Streetsboro -- Following a summer of uncertainty, the Streetsboro School Board is now unanimous in its choice of sites for a potential new high school.
Following extensive research, School Board members Kevin Grimm and John Kelly said at the Sept. 12 School Board meeting they believe there are too many unanswered questions surrounding City Park for it to be considered as a site for the new high school.
Instead, they join School Board President Denise Baba, Vice President Andrew Lesak and School Board member Brian Violi in support of a Route 14 site, located across from Deer Meadow Estates, for a high school.
"There is no question about it: Route 14 is the best location," said Grimm. "There are too many restrictions and other factors with the City Park site that would trigger additional studies. The Route 14 site is clear and would not have as many complications. Route 14 seems like the best option."
Grimm said studies involving soil, waterways, wetlands and endangered species would've taken numerous months.
"While everyone had their ideas, no one dove into researching the options in the park like John and I have," said Grimm. "The idea of building a new high school in part of the park and keeping a majority of the ball fields intact would be a really great option, but it's just not possible. We were really pushing to find some good information about City Park. We wanted to come back here and convince the other three Board members [that City Park was the best choice]. I don't think we can do that right now."
Jeff Allen, a proponent of building a new high school adjoined to the newer portion of the existing school, said these studies should have been conducted years ago.
"This thing has been coming down the pike for 10 years," he said. "We should have known all the ins and outs of it."
Kelly said Route 14 is the best site for the new high school, based on some of the city's own resources, including the 2009 master plan.
"The data collected shows we cannot build on the property owned by the city because it has 'severe restrictions,' mainly due to heavily wooded areas, waterways and other natural resource restrictions," he said. "Now, it is paramount that we focus on passing the bond issue in November for our children, community and the future of Streetsboro."
Baba said Grimm's presentation at the Sept. 12 meeting "should answer any doubts in anyone's mind about where we're headed and what we need to do."
The Board of Education unanimously voted July 11 to place a bond issue on the November general election ballot that would raise $38.7 million to upgrade the district's school buildings. In addition, a .5-mill permanent improvement levy, which Superintendent Michael Daulbaugh said is required by state law, would also be on the ballot.
The owner of a $100,000 home would have to pay $177.10 for the bond issue and levy combined, Treasurer Catherine Rouse said. The .5-mill levy would raise about $210,741 a year, Rouse said.
School leaders are seeking to rebuild and upgrade the school buildings, including the high school. Thirty-five percent of the money for construction costs of the $68.7 million facilities master plan -- more than $24 million -- would come from the state.
To research the potential high school site, Grimm said he and Kelly first spoke with FMD Architects' Michael DiMaio, an architect for the school district.
"It's our obligation to the community that all questions were answered and no stone was left unturned. John and I were adamant about this," said Grimm.
Soil studies and other research would have to take place to make sure no wetlands or the stream at City Park would be impacted, he said.
Grimm said representatives of the Ohio EPA in Twinsburg also said various studies would have to be completed.
He said Streetsboro's 2009 comprehensive plan listed City Park as undevelopable, while the Route 14 site had few, if any, restrictions.
"Under the new comprehensive plan, which has not yet been adopted by the city, the City Park area has severe restrictions, in part, because of the heavily wooded areas and waterways where there are possible natural resource restrictions," said Grimm.
He said an Ohio Department of Natural Resources official said a study would have to done at City Park to make sure no endangered species would be impacted.
Placing an athletic facility north of the stream at City Park was unlikely, Grimm said, due to the amount of fill and other work necessary. The Route 14 site has little to no restrictions with plenty of room for expansion and room for a new athletic facility to accommodate all the sports teams, he said.
Grimm said an Ohio Department of Transportation survey showed there are 15,000 vehicles daily on Route 14 where a new high school would be.
"Our high school students would be safe on the Route 14 site," said Grimm.
Grimm said more investigation of the City Park property showed "more roadblocks, delays and additional costs, and it is not practical to wedge a new high school" into the City Park property.
The focus now should be on providing the best, safest schools possible, and sharing that common goal is important for the School Board, said Grimm.
"We all want the most updated, safe and secure buildings for our children," said Grimm. "I believe we have the most cost-effective plan coming before the voters in November."
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