Southeast Missouri State University regents agree to demolition of Washington School

Friday, October 9, 2009
photos@semissourian.com Washington School, shown here in an undated Southeast Missourian file photo.

The maple and oak trees will stay but the building that was once Washington School must come down, the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents decided Thursday morning.

Southeast is in the final phases of building an 11,582-square-foot Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment along Middle Street behind the old Cape Girardeau school, which faces Fountain Street about two blocks north of Old Lorimier Cemetery. The school, built in 1916 and now used only for storage by the university, has a leaky roof and consumes $30,000 to $40,000 annually for utilities.

"The building has many challenges," Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration, told the regents, explaining that a poor heating and cooling system, along with a crumbling facade, are other problems. "It is a building that has too many problems to make it feasible to renovate."

photos@semissourian.com The Washington School, shown in this undated file photo from the Southeast Missourian archive.

The autism center is being built at a cost of $2.6 million. Mangels said there is about $450,000 available for the demolition, to put in parking areas and plant a green space among the trees on Fountain Street. The funding is from contingency funds set aside during the construction project, she said. Preparing the building for demolition will cost about $18,000, with demolition costs estimated to be about $200,000.

The remaining funds would pay for the parking lots and plantings.

As the regents discussed the demolition in a special meeting held by telephone conference call, university president Ken Dobbins said removing the building now will make expanding the autism center easier in the future.

Washington School, photographed Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. (Kit Doyle)

Board member James Limbaugh agreed, saying that he expects that the autism center, the first of its kind in the area, will be see a great demand for its services. The center will have four partners providing services -- the university, the Judevine Center for Autism-Southeast Project, the Tailor Institute and the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The regents also approved a policy change clarifying how gifts to the university are handled. Most gifts are directed to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, but some gifts, generally in the form of bequests, are made directly to the university. That causes legal, administrative and financial issues, university attorney John Grimm told the regents.

When the gift is real estate, for example, it is easier for the foundation to sell the property than the university, Grimms said.

Under the policy change, the university can turn over unexpected gifts to the foundation. "When the foundation coordinates gifts with donors, it is easier to carry out the intent," Grimm said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

1 University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

621 N. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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