E.C. School Board wants properties sold to the city back

2013-04-01T20:30:00Z 2013-04-01T23:51:07Z E.C. School Board wants properties sold to the city backElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

EAST CHICAGO | The School City of East Chicago wants to regain ownership of four properties previously sold to the city for $1 each.

The board voted 6-2 last week to approve a resolution repealing a previous resolution that sold Eugene Field Elementary School for $1 to the East Chicago Redevelopment Commission.

The board also wants to regain three community centers sold to the city for $1 each in December.

School Board President Jesse Gomez said he hopes the resolution serves as a way to open dialogue with the city about the property. Gomez also said the board is willing to take legal action to regain the property.

"The Redevelopment Commission is not in the business of education, the school system of East Chicago is," Gomez said. "We feel like we should have that property back."

Ruby Powell-Flowers, the president of the Redevelopment Commission, declined to comment Monday.

The resolution was adopted a week before the mayor is scheduled to present his State of the City address at the Field Elementary School property.

The elementary school was closed in June 2007 because of declining enrollment and decreased tax collections. According to the resolution, the building is currently used by 80 to 100 students as part of an alternative educational program.

In December, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said the city wanted the building to house an institute of higher education. The property is near the North Harbor area, which is where the city wants to create development projects.

According to the resolution, the property's insured replacement is valued at $12.9 million and the contents are insured for $1.1 million.

The properties were sold by the previous board in December. Gomez said the School City of East Chicago didn't benefit from the sale.

"It's a very nice building and was just upgraded a few years ago," Gomez said. "It didn't make any economic sense."

He said the School Board would like to see the building used as an elementary school again or move administrative offices to the building.

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