By MAX FILBY
Findlay City Schools may build a new bus garage on three acres of city-owned land along Broad Avenue.
The school board went into closed, executive session Monday to discuss the possibility of purchasing the land or proposing a land swap with the city.
The property, located near Cooper Field on the east side of Broad Avenue, would house the district’s new garage, likely a steel structure. The site is near the district’s administrative offices, Millstream Career Center and Findlay High School and out of the flood plain.
The district’s current bus garage is on Blanchard Avenue, in the flood plain.
“Yeah, it’s really in it,” Superintendent Dean Wittwer said.
Wittwer said the district is looking at a couple of locations, including the former Pepsi bottling plant on Broad Avenue, but the site near Cooper Field is the current favorite.
Wittwer has said the district wants to move the garage closer to the Broad Avenue campus and closer to Interstate 75.
“We want to get it on our side of town as much as possible,” he said.
Before the district tries to acquire the land on Broad Avenue, a number of soil and geological studies will have to be conducted, Wittwer said. The district is also seeking input about the location from city officials.
“They (school officials) would like to receive feedback from the city on the viability of the request before performing full environmental, geotechnical and site planning on the property,” Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said in a letter to City Council members.
School officials are expected to attend a special meeting of council tentatively set for July 29 to discuss the matter.
“It’s time to get it out in the public so we can start having those discussions,” Wittwer said.
In February, Marathon Petroleum Corp. donated $1.1 million toward the school district’s math and science programs and a new bus garage.
The district uses about 50 buses.
Separately, the school board on Monday approved a contract with energy conservation company Cenergistic. The company estimated it could save the district a little over $107,000 in the first 16 months if the district implemented its energy-saving strategies.
During the district’s first five years under its energy conservation plan, Cenergistic will take a portion of the savings as payment. If the company isn’t able to reach its goal in energy savings with the district, Cenergistic will then cut Findlay schools a check for the difference, a company representative said.
Cenergistic has saved its clients a combined total of $3.4 billion in more than 20,000 buildings, according to its website. Westerville City Schools, located just outside of Columbus, has saved $11 million during an eight-year period, according to Cenergistic.
Monday also marked Wittwer’s last school board meeting as superintendent of Findlay City Schools. Wittwer shed tears as did some of the board members who thanked him.
“You’re leaving a lasting legacy here,” said Kathy Siebenaler Wilson, vice president of the board. “You made the difference. Thank you so much.”
The district honored Wittwer in June by naming the fine arts wing at the high school after the superintendent and his wife, Pat.
Wittwer is leaving the district to become superintendent of the Allen County Educational Service Center. Edward Kurt, superintendent of Margaretta schools, will replace Wittwer on Aug. 1.
Wittwer described his last board meeting as “bittersweet” and said Dennis McPheron, the district’s facilities director, will “have a hard time getting my key fob to the buildings back.”
However, “I guess I’m ready to pass the baton,” Wittwer said.