Demolition of the Baskin High School building has been delayed until May while parts of Ward III School have been approved for demolition.
Franklin Parish School Board members agreed Monday night to allow a committee calling themselves Restoration of the Old Baskin High School Building look for possible renovation funds to the 93-year-old building.
Members of the group are Justin Lord, committee chairman; Kathryn Olivo, secretary; Angie Pierce, treasurer and Mandy Moroni, coordinator.
The delay came at the “midnight hour” for the building with contractors on site and digging a hole to bury the building’s rubble.
McMurray Dirt and Demolition, of Winnsboro, has been contracted for the demolition at an estimated cost of $75,000.
“We have worked tirelessly on getting all of the necessary information needed to apply for grants, continuances and donations to relieve the Board of any cost pertaining to stopping the demolition, covering the hole that was dug in the old ball field for the burial of the building, restoration and purposes and uses for the building that we feel will be very beneficial to the Board, Village of Baskin and our Franklin Parish school system,” Lord said.
Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation (LTHP) joined forces with the committee in search for funding and developing ideas for future building use. In 2009, LTHP listed Baskin High School on Louisiana’s Most Endangered Historic Places.
“It is not a long shot for saving this building,” said Brian Davis, LTHP executive director.
Initial estimates to renovate Baskin High School is $1.5 million to $2 million, Davis said.
Baskin High School is in dire shape after not being used on a regular basis for 15 years. Water damage caused by incomplete roof work in 2009 led to major water damage in the auditorium, and the majority of its windows are broken and bricks are missing.
The liability associated with having an abandoned building such as Baskin High School was addressed by School Board member Eddie Ray Bryan.
“Could it be restored,” Bryan said. “I have no doubt, but one problem I have is liability. We had other buildings on other campuses that we had to do something with because you can put up no trespassing signs, lock the doors and put fences around them but people will still go in. If somebody goes in there gets hurt, do you know who is liable? We are.”
Drug paraphernalia, alcohol bottles and signs of illegal activity were in many dilapidated buildings such as Baskin High School, Bryan said.
“I am not trying to pour water on everything,” Bryan said. “I’m just trying to get everything out so everyone can understand.”
Later in the meeting, School Board members agreed to remove asbestos and demolish the majority of Ward III School building with the exception of the gymnasium and cafeteria which are still being used as community centers. Estimated demolition cost is $132,000.
In addition to Ward III, Franklin Parish School Board owns two other vacant buildings: Wisner Elementary and Wisner / Gilbert School located on La. Hwy. 15. Wisner Elementary, located in the town’s corporate limits, was gutted by fire several years ago leaving only a brick shell. Trees and weeds can now be seen growing in the building’s interior.
“Its hard to put $132,000 in an old building you are not going to use,” said School Superintendent Lanny Johnson. “It is a good idea to do that sometimes, but you are taking money from your active program and putting it in the old buildings.”
Johnson recommended selling Wisner / Gilbert School and using the money in demolition of Wisner Elementary.