By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The old Jefferson School could come down starting within the next few weeks.
The former school building at 301 Spring was closed in 1983, along with four other public school buildings, and is now owned by Riverside Community Church.
The Rev. Lee Amsler, senior pastor at Riverside, said the cost of renovating the building proved to be too high for the church.
"So we did an assessment on what the value would be if we sold it the way it is or if we tore it down," he said.
Amsler said the church is in the process of finalizing a contract with a demolition crew. The church plans to sell the land after demolition.
The church has had the property on the market for some time and tried selling it at auction in 2010, but the reserve price was not met.
The congregation bought the school in 2003, with plans to convert it into a new church, but it ran into some problems when vandals caused $80,000 in damages to the building.
"We spent a lot of money and a lot of time in the beginning getting things ready until we had kids come in there and just tore everything up," he said. "Our equipment and stuff that was in there, they just tore it to pieces. That made it impractical for us to do whatever we needed to do."
Amsler said the congregation also would have needed to put a new roof on the building.
Michael Seaver, director of inspection and enforcement for the city's Department of Planning and Development, said that while the city has had some complaints on the condition of the building, the congregation has fixed any problems.
Amsler said the last time he received a call from the city was last year when it asked if a slash could be put on the building to notify firefighters that the building has potential safety issues.
Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning said the slash indicating that firefighters should proceed with extreme caution.
"It's still structurally, for the most part, in good shape, but it is open to the elements now," he said. "So we may start to see further concern with it."
Another notable building in the program is the Newcomb Hotel, 400 Maine, which has an "X" on the west side of the building. This means firefighters will not enter the building unless there is a victim in the fire.