#Neighborhood Living
Taget:
City of Des Moines Employees/Representatives & Viva Eastbank!
Region:
United States of America

As both Facility Manager (Facilities Overlord according to John Tenikat) and a member of Sophia Evangelical Church which is affiliated with Olivet University, the current owner of the Wallace Elementary building since December of 2012, I have been doing my best to learn to take care of the previous Henry Wallace Elementary School and build the necessary bridges to not only keep it from being swept away as Des Moines rapidly builds and grows, but ultimately turn it into an asset that strives to serve the neighborhood and greater community in love and truth. Since taking this position officially in May 2015 (and unofficially as a volunteer since April 2014), I have had the pleasure of meeting and/or coming to know better many people including new and long time residents from across the Des Moines metropolitan area that have some connection to the school.

Through these meetings I have come to understand that this school, named after Henry A. Wallace who at the age of eight was influenced by the young George Washington Carver and grew up to become Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President of the United States, was for a long time a deep root of this neighborhood and of Des Moines. Because of the important formative/educational role this building played in the community over time (ending in the 2006 or 2007 school year) it has been both a source of joy (in the past) and of heartache (recent years) to former students, faculty, and current neighborhood residents. The reason for the heartache in recent years seems to stem from watching what was once a lively school building that housed the creation of so many extremely fond memories, learning experiences, friendships, and teaching careers, fall by the wayside slowly into disrepair becoming a scourge of the neighborhood.

I am not one to get particularly sentimental about buildings because I believe its the people and their purpose that really matter, and I don't want to hold onto something that is not useful/feasible or that no one wants, but as far as I can tell right now... I don't think that is the case on either count.

Although Olivet University, despite its best efforts and significant expenditure, has not yet met the expectations of the City of Des Moines Planning and Development Center for bringing the building completely to code... visible and invisible improvements to the property have been made since Olivet University acquired the neglected/vandalized building from the Des Moines Public School System in December 2012.

Here is what I believe Olivet University and the Capitol Park Neighborhood have at stake:

$400,000 in non-borrowed operating funds that Olivet University has spent to date on managing, improving, securing, architectural planning, and weatherization efforts resulting in visible and invisible improvements to the structures and grounds. This would all essentially be flushed away.

$930,000 loan approved by Bank of the West as of Dec 2016 that would be used to weatherize the '20 and '50 portions of the building, as well as gain occupancy for the '90 addition... ultimately bringing it to code and meeting the City of Des Moines requirements that were agreed to. The project, once the city releases judgement and funds become available, could reach significant completion within 6-8 mo. allowing the building to be used immediately as a church and community center serving the neighborhood. Add this up and you have just under a $1.3M investment from a single entity in the Capitol Park Neighborhood alone.

Because I live in Cheatom Park Neighborhood in Des Moines and I am involved with the project I cannot claim to be without bias... but I have this feeling that in an alternate universe where I wasn't involved in the project, and the Wallace Elementary building were in my neighborhood... I would much rather give Olivet University an opportunity to continue to make its large playground available to the community and continue its renovation efforts , given the circumstances, and potentially live on a block filled with serious theological students seeking truth from the community and all over the world who have a desire to learn, and positively engage/change the communities they are a part of, than roll the dice with the best likely outcome being that the empty lot gets subdivided and filled with homes. Maybe its just me?

Nicolas Haman

“This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy.” -- Henry A. Wallace

We, the citizens of the City of Des Moines, petition the City of Des Moines to give Olivet University the opportunity to continue renovation efforts at the previous Henry Wallace Elementary School at 1401 E. 12th Street.

We recognize that although Olivet University, despite its best efforts and significant expenditure, has not yet met the expectations of the City of Des Moines Planning and Development Center for bringing the building completely to code... we also recognize that visible and invisible improvements to the property have been made since Olivet University acquired the neglected/vandalized building from the Des Moines Public School System in December 2012 and demand that the city give Olivet University an opportunity to continue their effort in light of the fact that they have spent $400,000 to date on managing, improving, securing, architectural planning, and weatherizing resulting in visible and invisible improvements to the structures and grounds, as well as securing financing needed to bring the structure into compliance with City of Des Moines requirements.

To accomplish this we demand immediate release of judgment, thereby dismissing demolition proceedings (as a requirement of the loan) in so far as Olivet University can draw on a loan in the amount of $930,000 approved by Bank of the West as of Dec 2016 needed to weatherize the 1920 and 1950 portions of the building, as well as gain occupancy for the 1991 addition ultimately bringing it to code and thereby meeting City of Des Moines requirements.

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The Support Olivet effort to revitalize and save Wallace Elementary from demolition petition to City of Des Moines Employees/Representatives & Viva Eastbank! was written by Nicolas Haman and is in the category Neighborhood Living at GoPetition.