Pieces of old school building roof endangering people, resident says

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ANDERSON, Ind. -- A viewer told CBS4 Problem Solvers that he's seen people nearly struck by large pieces of a deteriorating roof.

For the past couple of years, Jake Williams has driven by a large, abandoned building on Madison Avenue in Anderson once or twice a week. Williams said he has tried reporting the structure, but it continues to get worse.

"Maybe 10 times I've reached out to (the city)," Williams said.

Just several years ago, based on a Google Maps image, the green roof on top of the building was fine. It's now falling apart, pieces of sheet metal swaying, hanging, and even laying on top of nearby uncharged power lines.

It was a dangerous incident that initially prompted Williams to try and call attention to the structure.

"I was driving home and there was a guy out on the sidewalk. ... It was a windy day and a couple pieces of roofing flew off and he just barely missed it. He dodged it, it (came) flying right past him," Williams said.

He said he's also worried about a bus stop that sits right below the building.

"I'm afraid somebody's going to get hurt," Williams said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers wanted to know more about the building. As we spoke with Williams, we came across Ray Walker, who said he owned it.

According to property records, Walker bought the building in 2011. He said he's been hoping to fix it up and turn it into a community center, but it hasn't been easy to get people to buy in.

"Until they see you doing something, it’s hard for them to want to step up and help," Walker said.

The building was once Hazelwood Elementary School, according to the Madison County Historical Society. The original school burned down and the new building opened in 1939. It operated as a K-6 school until 1977, at which point it changed hands for a number of years. The roof is not part of the original structure.

A city spokesperson told CBS4 that because Walker owns the building, he is responsible for maintaining it. She confirmed that the city has had calls about the roof before.

CBS4 Problem Solvers pointed the danger out to Walker, who said that he understands the roof needs to come down as soon as possible.

"We need to get it down immediately. So however we can get that worked out, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to make it happen," Walker said.

On Thursday, Walker sent photos showing that he has begun removing the sheet metal from the building. He said he's working to find a contractor who can remove the full structure and he's hoping the community will start to buy in to the idea of fixing up the old school.

"Somehow I know we as a community can utilize this property and this building," Walker said.

To contact Walker's organization, Saving the Next Generation, you can go to the link here.

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