Thursday, May 18, 2006

You Can Help - Contact the Sarasota School Board

The Sarasota County School Board plans to construct a new building on a parking lot at Riverview High School and demolish the historic Paul Rudolph structures that now exist there. This plan was about to go forward when our group of concerned citizens, including such leading local architects as Carl Abbott, Guy Peterson and James Bowen; former Sarasota mayor (and former Riverview High teacher) Mollie Cardamone; and former School Board chair Lee Byron, asked the board to assess whether the Rudolph buildings could be rehabilitated and remain part of the campus. This was the recommendation as recently as 2004 from BMK, the Sarasota architectural firm that was commissioned to do a long-range review of the facilities at Riverview High.

Because the existing buildings are inadequate to today’s needs, the school board is eager to move forward, so we have a very short time in which to make our case. If you share our desire to preserve this important landmark, please call or write school board members, local newspapers, your friends and community leaders with this three-part message about why Riverview High School should be saved.

(This is a summary of the case for saving Riverview, but you should put it into your own words when you call or write—sincere, individual expressions, not a word-for-word canned message, will convince officials that there’s widespread support for saving Riverview.)

One: Rehabilitating the Building Is Cost-Efficient and Conserves Resources.
The estimated cost of demolishing the five Rudolph buildings and constructing a new facility at Riverview is now at $90 million. We believe it would cost no more—and could cost less—if the Rudolph structures were kept as part of the project and brought up to today’s standards. And just as was done with the Federal Building downtown and the Municipal Auditorium, the school could eventually receive federal funding to restore it to its former glory.

Two: Riverview High School is an important Sarasota—and even international—landmark.
The creation of Paul Rudolph, most influential architect of the 20th Century, Riverview High School is recognized around the world. Architectural Digest, the London Times and others have recently sounded the alarm at the idea of its destruction. But not only is it an important work of architecture that should be a focus of civic pride in a city known for its cultural character; it is an important part of our community’s history. We have lost too many of our historic treasures. If it is practical and feasible to save this one, we should do so.

Three: The Rudolph buildings can be brought up to today’s standards so that students get the technology, safety and amenities they need.
Many of the problems in the original buildings reflect a system-wide problem in proper maintenance of school facilities. The original structure is basically sound and it can be brought into compliance with today’s codes and educational needs.

School Board Member contact information:
Sarasota School Board
1960 Landings Blvd,
Sarasota, FL 34231

(941) 927-9000
fax (941) 927-4025

Dr. Carol Todd Chair
Mr. Frank H. Kovach Vice Chair
Mrs. Laura Benson
Dr. Kathy Kleinlein
Mr. John P. Lewis

Thank you!

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