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Richmond School Officials Bicker Over Rodent-Filled Facility



The decrepit, rodent-filled conditions of a former school building attached to Carver Elementary School appear far from being resolved while officials debate who's to blame.

The '50s-era extension remains attached to Carver, although children haven't been in the building since 1999. Style Weekly first reported on the state of the building, built in the late 19th century as the Moore Street School, in a story about deteriorating conditions of city school facilities.

The building has been stuck in bureaucratic limbo since 2009, when the School Board listed it as surplus for possible sale or lease by the city. Options ranged from starting a community center to creating teacher housing, 2nd District School Board Representative Kim Gray says, but the crashing economy stopped progress.

Sitting empty, the building continued to fall apart until the city paid nearly $18,000 for roof work in 2013. City spokeswoman Tammy Hawley says the Department of Public Works and Facilities Management is responsible for the building, but notes that final details of the transfer from the School Board to the city remain unresolved.

In an email, she also blames work performed by the school district for the conditions: "It is my understanding that the internal condition is largely a result of the weather damage which resulted from the HVAC equipment and systems being removed" by the Richmond Public Schools.

Hawley says she can't provide an estimate of when the final ownership would be sorted out or when the building would be cleaned up, but notes that the building meets code.

Gray, who visited the former Moore Street School a few weeks ago, says she hopes the building will be cleaned within "weeks, not months," worried about its potential health hazard to students in Carver. But the School Board doesn't have the money to do the work itself, she says.

"It's unrealistic right now to do it when we can't find the money to fix buildings currently occupied," Gray says." We knew we didn't have the money to fix it. This is déjà vu. It is a city property at this point and it would be helpful if they would work on it."

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