The City Council has placed the former Park Lane Elementary School on the condemnation list, citing concerns about youths continuing to break into the fire-damaged structure.
The designation, used by the city to force property owners to either repair deteriorating structures or take them down, starts the clock ticking on a process that gives owners a set amount of time to meet those requirements. Placement on the “D&D” list also allows the city’s legal staff to launch action in district court to abate the nuisance, should property owners fail to act.
In this case, the property is 4912 SE Avalon, which had been Park Lane Elementary School until Lawton Public Schools closed the structure in 2015. The district sold the property in October to Otra Vez, a Las Vegas-based company, but the owner now is listed as Art Center of Lawton LLC, of Las Vegas, a company that registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State in November.
A fire that began March 1 extensively damaged the building. Arson was suspected and four minors were arrested later that month.
Neighborhood Services Supervisor Corey Bowen said the owner has boarded up the structure three times, but people keep prying off the boards to gain access.
“This building is a hazard,” he said. “The roof is collapsing.”
Bowen said pictures show that not only did major portions of the roof collapse during the fire, sections continue to collapse. The building also is being covered with graffiti. Bowen said the school’s gymnasium, undamaged by the fire, also is boarded up, but no one has tried to break into that structure as they do continuously with the school building. Sometimes those people are successful, as evidenced by broken boards or wood ripped off of windows and doors; in other instances, exposed nails and scratched wood shows evidence of someone trying to break in but failing.
“Kids keep getting in,” Bowen said, adding the badly damaged structure is a hazard that needs to be demolished and cleared.
If the property owner does not do that work, the City of Lawton will do it and put the cost of the demolition as a lien on the property, Bowen said.