December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Closed Lorain school an eyesore, neighbors complain

LORAIN — Lorain City Schools isn’t being a very good neighbor, according to residents living near the former Fairhome Alternative School.

The school, on Illinois Avenue, was shut down last month to save money, but residents say the weeds and grass have grown so high that it’s difficult to walk down the sidewalk without being snagged by a spiky stalk.

 
CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Neighbors around Fairhome Alternative School have complained about the weeds growing through the sidewalk, tree lawn and parking lot and the many broken glass block windows.

“I have a 62-pound dog, and the weeds are taller than my dog,” said Marion Thomas, who lives three houses away from the school. “The burrs that have grown on some of those mature weeds over there are just waiting to catch some kids.”

The weeds have grown all over the building and through cracks in the parking lot and sidewalk leading to the main door. Bottles, cans, paper and cigarette butts have been tossed on the grounds to create a deplorable sight, neighbors said.

“It’s just a sore sight,” said Helen Lloyd, who has lived near the school for the last 47 years. “It’s the jaggy stuff along the sidewalk and everything grown up around the telephone pole.”

Dan DeNicola, interim chief operational officer for the district, said maintenance on that building was put on hold when the school was closed so that the maintenance crews could focus on making sure the other buildings were ready for the school year.

Fairhome was used as a school for those with learning disabilities, but those students are now taught at the Charleston Administration Center. The building is slated to be demolished after school board approval.

It also didn’t help that about 30 percent of the maintenance staff was cut by the district to save money, leaving only 39 people, DeNicola said. The district laid off more than 100 non-teaching staff members and 243 teachers to avoid a looming $15 million debt.

DeNicola promised to send someone out this morning, weather permitting, to trim the weeds.

“We’re trying to do the best we can,” he said. “The staff here is really working their butts off, and not just the maintenance workers. Everyone is trying to provide the same level of service, even though we don’t have the same number of people."

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.