The city will buy Ridge Elementary School and tear it down, turning it into a park after concerns that Ward 1 wouldn’t have any green space if it went to auction.

The school closed down this past May.

City council voted 7-0 during it’s Monday night meeting to buy the school for a price of $22,500. Demolition will cost an extra $100,000, said Robert McOmber, At-Large council member. McOmber was unsure when the demolition would begin.

The decision was met with some opposition from people who supported letting it go to auction so a business could move in and help economic development.

“I’ve worked with a number of clients who considered purchasing the building,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. “It is my job to advocate for businesses in the communiy and it’s difficult when you send a message like you are tonight. The process seems rushed.”

One of Clark’s clients also spoke at the meeting, who was pushing to make it a charter school.

If the school went to auction, it would go to the highest bidder, which could be any business, said Rob Piasecki, Fourth Ward Council Member.

Sandy Rowland, At-Large council member, was against the option of a charter school.

Bowling Green City Schools pays a private school $5,000 per student when a student chooses to go to that school instead of the public one, she said. If 100 students attend a charter school at the building, the system loses $500,000, Rowland said.

A green space, Rowland argued, can also bring economic development because people want to live by parks and it can raise property values.

“We want to make the community a place where people want to live,” she said.

Daniel Gordon, First Ward council member, said that while he values economic development, he also has to represent his voters.

“It was a compelling case to turn it into a park,” Gordon said. “Last month, all I heard from constituents was that the only play space in the ward would be gone ... so we needed to act. This will result in other beneifits like improving aesthetics, attract new homeowners, be a place for residents to meet and retain good relations.”

Also at council:

—John Smith, chair of Transportation for America spoke to the city about expanding methods of transportation to foster economic development. Smith suggested creating a task force with the University or surrounding municipalities to create a route to bring more people to the city.

—Mayor Richard Edwards announced he is hosting a press conference addressing his coalition against the charter amendment. The conference will be hosted at the Wood County Senior Citizens Center located at 305 N. Main St. at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

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