Wheeling officials are right to proceed with their plan to raze the old Jefferson School structure in East Wheeling, while the city still can get a good price on the contract. The imposing edifice, more recently known as the Imperial Pool building, probably is beyond saving.
City officials revealed earlier this fall they had agreed to allow the building's owners to transfer title to the city, in exchange for an agreement to absolve them of financial responsibility for the structure. That opened up an opportunity for the city, which contracted with a company to demolish several other buildings in East Wheeling, in preparation for establishment of a recreational park.
Because it already had equipment and crews in the area, the demolition company agreed to add the Imperial Pool building to the list of those to be razed, for $48,000. Normally, it probably would have cost $20,000 more to have the structure demolished, City Manager Robert Herron estimated.
News of the city's plan sparked interest in saving the building among people who recognize its architectural attractiveness and historical significance. There were suggestions the city hold off on demolition to allow time for a preservation plan to be studied.
But Herron said last week removal of asbestos from the building will begin soon, and demolition will proceed after that.
That is appropriate. While saving some of the beautiful old Victorian-era structures in Wheeling is a good idea, the Imperial Pool building appears to have been allowed to deteriorate past the point of being preserved.
It has been vacant for many years, with no interest expressed in renovating it.
So, while the city can save money on the cost of razing the building, proceeding with the work probably is the most prudent course of action for city officials.