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Residents upset over abandoned school property

Updated: Monday, June 23 2014, 09:19 AM CDT
The Escambia County school district is in the midst of addressing some of its abandoned properties around town.  The Old J. Lee Pickens School building on Hayne Street in Pensacola was recently torn down, and the district expects to sell Brownsville Middle School on Hollywood Avenue in about a week. 

Sidney Nelson School on Muskogee Road in Cantonment has been vacant for 4 years.  The district plans to turn it into a bus barn which has caused a bit of disappointment for some residents.
"That's just a slap in the face of this community, I feel" said Robert Gross, Cantonment Resident.

The 12 acres Sidney Nelson School sits on means a lot more to Robert Gross than any bus barn it's expected to turn into.  He went to the school back in the '60s.

"This is a part of our heritage, this is a part of our history, this school here represents Cantonment as a whole" said Gross.

Within the next two weeks, the buildings are expected to be demolished.
The Escambia School District wants to create a handful of bus compound sites throughout the county.

The bus compounds will be paved, have a fueling station, fenced in and lit by streetlights.
Over the last few years the district has been maintaining the Sidney Nelson property.

School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says cost associated with the bus barn conversion should be kept to a minimum because the property will only have street lights and maybe a small office building to maintain.
But many residents aren't sold on potential cost savings alone.

"What will a bus barn do to uplift a blighted area?  The only thing I see it's going to do is have buses parked out here" said Josh Womack, Cantonment Resident.

Superintendent Thomas says he is willing spare an acre of the property if the county agrees to cohabitate.
Many residents feel the property would be better suited as a community center.

"There's enough here for everybody why we can't share?  I feel we need to have a center for our kids and our senior citizens" said Antonnette Mitchell, Cantonment Resident.

This upcoming Monday, the Cantonment Improvement Committee is expected to meet with Escambia County Commissioner, Steven Barry about the proposed use of the Sidney Nelson property.

Residents upset over abandoned school property

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