‘It’s one of the worst eyesores that is in Oconee County’

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:54 AM EDT
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FAIR PLAY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) -An old school building at the heart of a small town is stuck in limbo.

The former Fair Play Elementary School is now dilapidated and filled with asbestos. A viewer asked FOX Carolina News why it hasn’t been torn down yet.

We got the answer and why there’s hope things could change soon.

The building is past the point of repair, but too expensive for the owner to tear down.
The building is past the point of repair, but too expensive for the owner to tear down.(FOX Carolina)

‘Money is definitely one of the issues’

While the property was once owned by the Oconee County School District, it’s since been handed to the Fair Oak Youth Center. Current president Chad Overholt said the building is now, “one of the worst eyesores in Oconee County.”

“It’s almost too scary to even walk through the buildings,” Overholt said. “You’ll step on needles, step on drug paraphernalia. It’s kind of a magnet for just all the bad stuff that can happen to Fair Play.”

FOYC’s original vision for the property was completely different, with plans to utilize the space as a community center or more green space.

They were able to renovate the old ball fields across the street, but the former school has proven to be a major problem.

“As a volunteer that spends a lot of hours down here, it’s heartbreaking,” Overholt said.

Because the building is filled with asbestos and fuel tanks are in the ground, Overholt said they’ve received estimates that demolition will cost $500,000. That’s a cost they can’t cover with their $30,000 budget from the county.

“Like a lot of things money is definitely one of the issues,” he said.

Back in 2019, plans were in the works for the Fair Play Fire Department to take over the spot, tear down the building and put up a new fire station in its spot.

But while that was being discussed, the FOYC’s baseball program took off. Now the land around the old school has turned into impromptu parking whenever there’s a game.

Overholt said they’ll have more than 100 cars packed in the property.

“We really have nowhere to go except if we would expand on this property right here that the school sits on,” he said.

While FOYC works out how much of the land they need. the deal with the fire department is off the table.

“We feel like we need a very clear plan as to how to move forward because we expect nothing but growth in these programs,” FOYC director Parker Stuart said.

The Fair Play fire chief told FOX Carolina he’s hopeful they’ll be able to work out a deal.

But in the meantime, Overholt wants to move forward with demolition.

He said this month they are beginning the process of applying for grant funding to help cover the cost.

″We are working really hard to try to cover all the angles we can to try to find a way to get these buildings down,” Overholt said.