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Education

No decision imminent on future of Downers Grove District 58's Longfellow Center

The future of the Longfellow Center in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 is once again a topic of conversation.
The future of the Longfellow Center in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 is once again a topic of conversation.

DOWNERS GROVE – The future of the Longfellow Center in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 has once again become a topic of conversation, but more study and discussion is required before a decision is made, one Board of Education member says.

“I think a lot of people are jumping the gun,” member John Miller said at the Aug. 13 board meeting. “They keep saying, ‘sale, sale, sale.’ There’s been no determination of a sale. We don’t even know the total market value. We’re trying to get that information to try to fold that into the whole strategic plan. All the questions that are being asked are questions that we’re asking.”

Miller added discussions about the building have been held by the board’s Financial Advisory Committee.

“We don’t know if there’s a decision point to be made here,” he said. “We’re trying to gather information.”

Miller added a super majority of the board would be needed to approve the sale of district real estate, such as Longfellow.

The 90-year-old building houses the district’s office of curriculum, technology and instruction, as well as maintenance services. Teachers and administrators routinely meet at the facility as well.

A decision on the future of the building at 1435 Prairie Ave. in Downers Grove is part of the district’s overall facilities master plan.

“It’s an asset that needs significant resources. We’ve been talking about it for years,” Miller said.

The district would have to find an alternative space if the board decides to sell the parcel, Superintendent Kari Cremascoli said.

The building and surrounding property are comprised of 12 separate lots. The district would prefer to sell the entire parcel to a developer who would build homes on the site, Cremascoli said.

The sale of the building also could lead the district to examine the future of its administrative offices at 1860 63rd St.

Former board member Joe Leo asked the board to consider the surrounding neighborhood before selling the Longfellow Center for residential development. He said the construction of several houses on the property would take two or three years.

“Put yourself in our shoes,” said Leo, who lives near the facility.

He added the board should carefully consider future space needs before selling the property.

“Over the years, we’ve been sellers,” Leo said. “These are assets that can never be replaced. It’s a one-time asset.”

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