Year in Review: Libbey High School: 1923-2011Written by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
2011 saw the end of Edward Drummond Libbey High School.
The school’s demolition was not planned without a fight. The main opposition to the demolition was the Libbey Preservation Committee, which proposed several alternatives to prevent knocking down the school, which started classes in 1923.
Among the ideas were using parts of Libbey for afterschool and GED programs, food and assistance programs, a voting site, a small manufacturing area, a computer training center, day care programs, a green technology site and vocational training.
Some opponents, such as activist Warren Woodberry, believed losing Libbey would have negative effects on the community.
“It’s an active community,” Woodberry said. “There are thousands of homes and you look left and right and there’s nothing to do. They are moving the Boys & Girls Club across Broadway by another school. They tore down the YMCA. The park has four swings. There are thousands of homes there and they have four swings. People have that in their backyard. There just was no logic there. The swimming pool has been closed for years. They are just begging kids to come out and join gangs.”
After two months of discussions, a plan emerged April 26 that had many hopeful that Libbey could be saved. Toledo Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve Herwat announced a proposal that could save Libbey’s field house, skills center and football stadium. The field house could be used as a site to host winter basketball youth games while the stadium had been discussed as a possible location to partner with the Mid-City Football League.
Saving those structures, however, hinged on Toledo giving Toledo Public Schools (TPS) a $1 million loan which would be used to install a heating and cooling system so that the field house could be used year-round. Toledo would then have to pay a nominal fee of $1 for the buildings.
Those plans fell through June 2, when the Toledo Mayor’s office revealed its “Cost Estimate Summary” which showed it would cost $5,056,899 to repair the building to make it ready for public use.
“The city had a plan and different ideas of what they would like to put in there,” TPS Board Vice President Lisa Sobecki said June 5. “They stepped up to the plate. They also had to go through their process. I fully understand how processes go and how much it costs to do things in older buildings.
“I do applaud them and appreciate the fact that they came to the table and wanted to take an opportunity to look at the building. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t work. Would I have hoped this would have worked out? Of course. But understanding our budget constraints within the school district and their budget constraints within the city, these just aren’t good times for anybody.”
That $5 million-plus total was the last nail in Libbey’s coffin. Demolition was scheduled to begin in the end of December but has been postponed until January due to utility issues.