THE MAN wears a denim baseball cap and peruses books as he sits on a couch in East Germantown.
The unidentified but well-read gent in the photo taken by the City Controller's Office wasn't in his house, though. He was hanging out at the vacant Ada Lewis Middle School, on Ardleigh Street near Washington Lane.
Ada Lewis was one of eight empty schools reviewed by the City Controller's Office, which released a report yesterday citing buildings in disrepair and covered in trash, from syringes and drug baggies to discarded condoms and human waste.
The district's eight vacant school buildings have become "neighborhood eyesores and safety hazards," Controller Alan Butkovitz said. "These [buildings] are all catastrophes waiting to happen."
Perhaps more concerning, the district is set to more than double the number of vacant schools in the city. The district's facilities master plan, now before the School Reform Commission, calls for closing nine more schools over the next two years.
According to the Controller's Office, the district needs to figure out a plan ASAP to deal with the vacant buildings because its inventory is a downright mess.
Fernando Gallard, a district spokesman, said that the district is reviewing its decommissioning policies in preparation for the expected increase in vacant property.
The Controller's Office also reviewed Roberto Clemente Middle School (5th and Luzerne streets), Alcorn Annex (33rd and Reed streets), Beeber Wynnefield Alternative Program (53rd and Euclid streets), Rudolph Walton (28th Street near Huntington), Simon Muhr (12th Street and Allegheny Avenue), George W. Childs (17th Street near Tasker) and Elizabeth Gillespie (Pike Street near 18th).
Butkovitz found that Clemente, which closed in 1998, "is in such a dilapidated and dangerous state, we recommend that it be tightly secured and demolished immediately." The report cites falling cement and a fence that prevents sidewalk use.
Neighbors told the Daily News earlier this year of prostitution and rampant drug use in the building.
Butkovitz said it would cost the district about $5 million to demolish the schools. Clemente's demolition is estimated to cost about $800,000.
Gallard yesterday couldn't provide exact maintenance costs for Clemente or its sale price. He didn't have the sale prices or maintenance costs for any of the other schools, which are all on the market.
Gallard said the district sees demolition as a last resort.
"Our goal is to sell those buildings, get them off the books," he said. "To safely close them is a challenge. . . . You can't just close the door because the building is constantly being broken into."