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Neighbors irate ‘eyesore’ school costs taxpayers $26K a year to maintain

RICHMOND, Va. -- Neighbors are reaching out the CBS 6 Problem Solvers for answers about a former school in their Southside neighborhood they are calling an eyesore.

Graffiti, boarded up windows and high grass are now hallmarks of the former Oak Grove Elementary School. Trash and debris litter the grounds of the abandoned community landmark.

Oak Grove Elementary

Oak Grove Elementary

Resident Barbara Starkey-Goode said the property has become "nothing but an eyesore.”

The building was shuttered in 2014 when the new Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School opened a few blocks away.

"I am totally surprised, because when it closed, they had asked us, 'What did we want to do about this building?'” Starkey-Goode said.

However, three years later the old school sits abandoned and neglected.

"We're trying to fix up our homes and trying to keep the trash down and all of that,” Celeste Ellis explained.

High grass and litter at the old Oak Grove Elementary.

High grass and litter at the old Oak Grove Elementary.

John Chambliss Jr., who graduated from the school in the 1980s, said he returns to his old school cut the grass.

"I love my community, because this community is what really helped raise me, besides my parents,” Chambliss said.

The group of concerned neighbors reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers after they got no answers from the city about the property.

Neighbors ask CBS 6 Problem Solver Sandra Jones for help.

Neighbors ask CBS 6 Problem Solver Sandra Jones for help.

CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones discovered Richmond Public Schools still owns the property since school leaders said the city administration passed on it.

There are no plans to renovate the building, which is costing taxpayers $26,000 a year to maintain.

That news made neighbors even more irate.

"This is absolutely a waste of money -- and for what reason? Why are you spending this kind of money?" Starkey-Goode pondered. "It's empty. You don't have a caretaker. People are doing what they want to do."

Starkey-Goode thinks the property should be converted into a senior community and health center as well as a place for young people.

"I would hate to see it torn down or destroyed,” Starkey-Goode said.

The property is part of Councilwoman Reva Trammell’s district. She said the structure was not surplused back to the city after it closed in 2014.

However, she said she is willing to do whatever it takes to renovate and save the community landmark.