Richmond school left abandoned due to school board error

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An abandoned school in Richmond has been an eye sore for years, and it’s all because of miscommunication at City Hall.

Oak Grove Elementary School has been vacant since January 2013 when the school moved to the new Oak Grove/Bellmeade Elementary.

Since then, residents have been asking who owns this building: The city or the school board?

8News received the documents Tuesday that state the School Board planned to give it to the city, but they never completed the process.

“Somehow or another, the ball was dropped and we didn’t get the quitclaim deed and that’s why it never went anywhere,” 8th District City Councilwoman Reva Trammell said.

Trammell said she just found out on Monday that incomplete paperwork caused Oak Grove Elementary to stay vacant.

The documents show in 2012 the Richmond School Board voted to surplus the Ingram Avenue property back to the city at the end of 2012-2013 school year.

But the city attorney said the school board never executed the quitclaim deed needed to complete the process.

“This has been an eye sore for years,” Trammell said. “That didn’t have to happen.”

For years, residents such as Barbara Starkey-Goode have been trying to get something done about the old school.

“I don’t see any maintenance being done,” Starkey-Goode said. “So to me, it’s a waste of taxpayers money.”

The building has been vandalized multiple times. Many broken windows have been covered up with plywood.

Starkey-Goode said both her children went to the school and it’s broken her heart to see it fall apart. She hopes now that they know who owns it, something can be done to restore it.

“I would like to see this building become a resource for seniors,” Starkey-Goode said. “An outreach for seniors.”

Councilwoman Trammell said school board members have assured her the transfer process will be completed with a vote at the next board meeting on August 21.

She said building’s future will be decided by the community.

“Do you all want it back it to a school? Do you want it to a training center? Do you want it to a medical building? Tell me, tell me what you want,” Trammell said.

Trammell said she truly believes the 2013 school board didn’t mean to keep hold of the property but that better communication in the future can prevent this from happening again.

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