County starts Ruth School reuse survey

Nov. 29, 2013 @ 08:27 AM

In the midst of the U.S. 221 by-pass project, Rutherford County has teamed with the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission (IPDC) to find a suitable re-use for the former Ruth School.

According to Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen, during the planning process of the U.S. 221 by-pass expansion project, the county must list any historic buildings and a planned use for those buildings with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Now, thanks to a $10,000 grant, the county established a committee to recommend a re-use for the building that was built in 1926.

"I enlisted IPDC to help with the plan and, for the committee, I have looked at people who have been involved in the Ruth School and some local businesses," Classen said.

IPDC has completed the survey and posted it on their website ( Paper copies of the survey are also available at the library in Rutherfordton.

Jessica Trotman, of IPDC, said the survey will help guide the committee towards a potential use for the building that was closed and deeded to the county by Rutherford County Schools in 2005.

"This is not a master plan but it is an action plan for possibilities for re-use," Trotman said. "This doesn't take a stance only to provide possibilities."

The survey will help give guidance to the committee to make a final recommendation to the Rutherford County Commission. The plan must be complete by February 2014.

"We are looking at four areas such as economic and community development and gaps in community  services or something missing that the community needs," Trotman said.

The Ruth School campus consists of 10 acres and has a gym, the original school building and an addition which was constructed in 1950. Classen said the building is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the Overmountain Victory Trail passes through the school site.

Classen said the committee has met once but there have been no plans discussed.

"The canvas is completely blank," Classen said. "Ideas can run the gambit. There is a cost for renovation but there is also a cost for demolition. All of these issues have to be addressed by the committee."

There will be a public comment period when the draft of the plan is completed. That meeting is scheduled to take place between Jan 10-14.