COVENTRY TWP. The building once known as Turkeyfoot Elementary School will no longer remain and the property soon will become a nature preserve, but the memories made inside the walls will live on.
Coventry Schools closed the building after the 2015-16 school year due to the deteriorating condition of the building. The district faced issues with the septic system and well. For a time, a tanker truck fed the school water until a new well was installed. In addition, the roof was leaking throughout the entire facility and the heating system was not working properly. Only one boiler was working and the steam pipes below the floors of the school were bursting.
The perfect time arose for the district to close the building as the new high school opened and students were shifted into a new building. This left the former high school space free, which was converted into the elementary school.
In November 2016, the district tried to auction the 41,000 square-foot building and 7 acres of land it sat on. A potential buyer expressed interest, but the ended up falling through.
"The administration, at the time, was not aware that there was a deed associated with the property," Coventry Schools Superintendent Lisa Blough said. "Right before there was an agreement with this potential buyer, the Turkeyfoot Island LLC came forward and shared the deed with the district."
The original deed for the property, drawn in 1949, states the district is required to sell the property back to the original owners if the building will no longer be used as a school. The schools received $7,000 for the property.
"However, in addition to this amount, the Turkeyfoot Island Club donated approximately $47,000 to the district," Blough said.
John Perduyn, one of the three volunteer managers for Turkeyfoot Island LLC, said at the time the deed was drawn up the property belong to the Turkeyfoot Trust, which owned about 70 acres of land.
"The trustees, at that time when the schools were looking for property, agreed to sell them that piece of the property," Perduyn said.
Perduyn said the Turkeyfoot Trust eventually changed to the Turkeyfoot Island LLC. The LLC owns the Turkeyfoot Island club along with all 23 residential properties that are on the island. The school property quickly changed hands again though as Turkeyfoot LLC sold the property to an individual, who then donated it to Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Kendrick Chittock, project manager for Western Reserve Land Conservancy, said an anonymous local donor contributed the funding to allow the Land Conservancy to purchase the former Turkeyfoot property.
"The donor reached out to the Land Conservancy about creating a nature preserve on the property," Chittock said. "The donor’s contribution was sufficient to enable the Land Conservancy to complete the demolition and restoration of the property."
Future plans call for the property to be restored to its natural state and maintained as a preserve without future development.
"Current deed restrictions will be enforced by the Land Conservancy allowing for very limited passive recreation such as hiking, wildlife observation and picnicking," Chittock said.