Streetsboro -- City leaders said they hope to meet with the city's Board of Education to discuss the "relationship between the schools and the city," according to Mayor Glenn Broska.
Broska said the site for the new high school and other matters related to the school facilities plan may be among the issues that could come up at such a discussion.
"The high school [issue] is out there, and I'm sure it will be discussed," he added.
No discussion has been scheduled as of Dec. 2, although City Council authorized Law Director David Maistros at the Nov. 25 Council meeting to send a letter to the School Board requesting the discussion. Maistros was unavailable for comment, and Broska said Dec. 2 he didn't know if a letter had yet been sent to the Board.
'Is the site
New City Council member Jeff Allen said he's received "tons of calls" asking whether the site for the new high school has been finalized. School Board members maintain that the Route 14 location, across from Deer Meadow Boulevard, is the best choice, although in recent months some other citizens including Allen had suggested putting the high school at City Park.
"Is the site conversation closed?" Allen asked School Board members at a Nov. 22 meeting. "Is it going to come back up? A lot of people who voted for it [the Nov. 5 5.06-mill bond issue and levy to pay for upgrading the schools] are very concerned because they felt they were voting for money only, not site specific."
Residents were voting, in part, for a new high school, although the ballot language did not list where the high school would be built.
School Board members said during the Nov. 22 meeting they were only interested in reopening discussions about the site of the school if there is new ground to cover. Council and the School Board discussed the issue previously this year.
School Board President Denise Baba said the issue of rebuilding City Park "is not a school district issue, but a city issue."
"If the city is willing to turn over City Park to the School Board, and if the city has the money to move City Park, then we can have a discussion [about the site of the new school]," Baba said. "Those are things we need to know if we're going to engage in a discussion. If that criteria can't be met, and the discussion is the same, [then there is no need]."
School Board Vice President Andrew Lesak said the Route 14 site appears to be the only option.
"I've heard all the options up to this point," Lesak said. "What is left is, build it where we have the land [on Route 14]. The City Park is not an option because there is no money sitting around for anybody to move that park. Is there some other land or some other option that I'm not aware of? If there isn't, then it has to be [at the Route 14 site]. If [we] don't have any additional information, I don't know what we'd meet to consider. People are saying we [City Council and School Board should] meet. Meet about what? I have to know what the agenda is and what the options are. And if the agenda and the options are exactly what they were before, there's nothing to meet about. Nothing has changed. The facts have not changed. The facts are, [the Route 14 site] is the only place you can possibly build it. If the city has no money to move the park, then the facts haven't changed. The city needs to come to us and say, 'We could do this [move the park].'"
School Board member Kevin Grimm agreed.
"I'm always open to talk about our options to maximize our dollars," Grimm said, but those conversations would need to start with a resolution to the question of who would pay for transplanting City Park to the school-owned Route 14 site.
"We [the School Board] and the city don't have an extra $3 million sitting around, or whatever it's going to take to move [City Park]. Personally, I'd be open to talking about things if there were also some solutions presented."
Broska said the city does not have the $3 million to $3.5 million necessary to move the park facilities to the Route 14 site.
"The underlying theme for us is that we already have a very significant investment in our city park," said Broska. "We just don't have it. We don't have $3 million to invest in a new park."
Baba said trying to fit a high school on to a limited portion of City Park with wetland issues would "kill our project" because of the additional cost and time necessary to get permission to build on flood-prone land.
Bill Prenosil, Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project manager who is working with the school district, said working with the EPA can be unpredictable. The EPA must approve projects like the building of new schools.
"The last three projects we've done on wetlands were absolute nightmares because the EPA is so hard to work with," he said. "They'll tell you one thing, then three months later, a different person will come out there and give you a completely different answer."
Allen asked at the Nov. 22 meeting if Route 14 would be widened and how it would be paid for.
Prenosil said there is $300,000 in the budget for that purpose.
"I assume we'll have to put in a turn, or deceleration, lane, and that money is in the budget," said Prenosil, adding that if a traffic light is installed, it wouldn't be covered under funds approved by voters in the November bond issue.
Allen said he doesn't want the city to have to pay a lot of additional money to upgrade the Route 14 site.
"Maybe we have to spend $1 million, or $1.5 million, to widen Route 14, and at that point, we could have moved the park," Allen said. "So maybe we ought to look at this [City Park issue]."
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