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Neighbors frustrated by abandoned Indianapolis school

Posted: 4:59 PM, May 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-17 21:43:18-04
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INDIANAPOLIS — A former east side Indianapolis school sits empty, neglected and unwanted. Neighbors say the large school campus is harming their property values, is a breeding ground for crime and needs to be redeveloped, or torn down.

Graffiti is scrawled on the Old School One. Some of the windows that are supposed to be boarded up are not. If someone peers through the broken out windows in the doors, they can see chaos and damage on the interior of the building.

Phillip Anderson, a neighborhood resident, says kids play inside of the structure.

"They put ladders up the building and climb through the windows at night. They have flashlights and other lighting instruments they go in and play around in the building," Anderson said. "That's dangerous because there is asbestos in the building."

To be clear, RTV6 does not know everything that is in that building. But the newsroom does know a private individual, John Eric Sturm, is the owner. The president of Forest Manor Community Association has a message for him:

"It's just not fair that you buy something and let it sit like this. If it was in his neighborhood, I don't think he would be happy with it looking like this," Joyce Randolph, president of Forest Manor Community Association, said. "He would feel the same that we do, that this is not right."

Reacting to complaints from city-county councilors, a crew from the Marion County Health Department is mowing the lawn that was overgrown and making the property look worse.

The Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services has issued a citation to the property owner for multiple violations.

"Currently on this particular property, there are past due fines and fees. We have new orders open," Dimitri Kyser, Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, said. "If those fines and fees are not taken care of if the tax bill is not paid in accordance with city ordinances, regulations, and statutes that property can move and go into a tax sale."

RTV6 reached out to the owner, and he said, "People are trying to make me out to be a bad guy, but I'm not. Eventually, I'll find an investor, or developer, for the property."

That comment is not encouraging for Vickie Driver.

"The property is still the same; what is going on?" Driver asked. "What can we do to help you sell it. What can the neighborhood do to make something out of this building?"

That's not clear, but it won't be as easy as mowing the grass.

Anderson says the neighborhood is considering doing a 60's style protest march around the school. No date has been set for that demonstration.