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Goodwill Industries, Connecting Kids to Meals consider purchase of 2 former Toledo school sites

Posted By: Toledo Blade on October 3, 2022.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


Toledo Public Schools officials revealed that Goodwill Industries and Connecting Kids to Meals are the two organizations interested in purchasing the district’s former Ryder Elementary and Whitney High schools, respectively.

In August, school board members adopted two resolutions authorizing negotiations to transfer the Ryder property at 3117 Nebraska Ave. and Whitney property at 10 17th St. in Toledo to Lucas County, with assistant superintendent Jim Gant later stating he believed county officials had indicated they were interested in using the properties. But that wasn’t the case.

Instead, following a records request, Mr. Gant clarified that the district is negotiating with Goodwill and the Connecting Kids charity, with organizers from both separately stating the properties would allow them to expand their operations.

David Takats, chief mission officer for Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio, said his group is ending its lease agreement for its facility in Rossford and is moving its distribution center to 3145 Nebraska Ave. He said Goodwill officials are interested in the vacant Ryder property for possible expansion sometime in the future.

“But we haven’t even come to that determination as of yet,” Mr. Takats said. “We just know that it may be a great piece to have adding on to that Nebraska facility, whether it’s used for parking or whether it’s used for another outcrop building that we’re able to put there and store more of our retail material there.”

He added negotiations are in the early stages. And should the property sale move forward, he said whatever plans Goodwill officials decide for the property would then have to go through a series of public meetings for approval.

Estimated possible purchase prices for the properties are not known.

Wendi Huntley, president of Connecting Kids to Meals, on Monday said there aren’t specific plans for the former Whitney property. But with an ever-growing child-hunger problem in the Toledo area, her organization needs to be prepared to likewise expand to meet that need.

“Our work is certainly critical to kids that are in the community and so we need to continue to look as an organization [at] how we can best serve the community,” she said.  “And so if that ends up being, ‘Hey, we need to expand,’ or ‘Hey, we need to build,’ then we have some additional space for workers and all of those things can come into play.”

Both Whitney and Ryder sites were part of a slew of schools that were closed in the early-to-mid-2000s as part of the district’s effort to save money following years of enrollment drops. This occurred around the same time as the Ohio School Facilities Commission approved more than $600 million in state funds for an almost $800 million plan for the district to demolish and replace some school buildings and permanently destroy others.

Both school buildings are now long gone and Mr. Gant said in August that both properties aren’t being utilized. He said changing ownership for a small fee would save the district between $10,000 and $20,000 a year in maintenance costs stemming from mowing and clearing sidewalks.

About two weeks after stating county officials were interested in the properties, and a records request sent to county officials, county administrator Megan Vahey Casiere later clarified that the county does not have an interest in the properties. She said the county is acting as a sort of middle-man in the negotiations through the Lucas County Economic Development Corporation to assist in facilitating the deed transfer of the properties as required by state statute.

Toledo school district officials said there has been little headway in negotiations as of yet. To progress, all sides will need to overcome some of the district’s early stipulations. These include the ability to have the property revert back to the district if officials believe it’s needed because of increased enrollment, and the right to all financial proceeds from any subsequent sale of the properties.

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