Streetsboro -- A land swap between the city and school district will not occur, school officials repeated at a community meeting conducted by the Streetsboro Board of Education Aug. 4.
Following a presentation by FMD Architects, which is handling the project to upgrade the schools, Architect Michael DiMaio answered hand-written questions from the audience.
"Would you entertain the idea of a land swap?" was one question from an audience member.
"That discussion took place many months ago," DiMaio said. "The answer to that is 'No.' The work here has gone too far. We are where we are in the process."
A new high school and stadium are planned on Route 14 across from Deer Meadow Boulevard.
In the proposed land swap, city leaders had been negotiating a trade of a 62-to-65-acre portion of City Park off Route 303 near the school campus in exchange for 121 acres of school-owned land on Route 14 across from Valleybrook Road.
At the June 20, 2013 School Board meeting, then-Board of Education President Denise Baba announced that the land swap will not happen.
Those sentiments were echoed again at the Aug. 4 meeting.
"The land swap is a dead issue," current School Board President Andrew Lesak told the audience of more than 60 people.
The land swap, if approved, would have placed the new high school on City Park property, and town leaders would have had to move the park elsewhere.
"This city is not in the position to spend $3.5 million on a new park," Mayor Glenn Broska told those in attendance at the school meeting. "We have a park that we've made a significant investment in. It is my job as mayor and Council's job to make sure we do what is fiscally responsible for the city. Spending the money to build a new park that already exists is not fiscally responsible."
Baba, also speaking out against the land swap, added, "This community has waited a long time for these school buildings. Let's move forward and get the buildings up."
School Board member Kevin Grimm said more than a year ago, the Board of Education was in contact with city leaders through Superintendent Dr. Tim Calfee, who was discussing the land swap with Broska.
"We were told more than a year ago that [a land swap] was off the table because there was not the support of Council," Grimm said. "That was the previous Council. Not all the current members were there. Since that time, we have not been approached about it [by the city]. I'm one person that would love to see the new high school here [on the school campus], but obviously it's not going to happen. We need to support the project and continue to move forward."
Earlier Aug. 4, during a joint School Board/City Council meeting, resident Carmen Laudato spoke out in favor of a land swap.
"[The high school] is going to be built in front of an asphalt plant with many busy trucks going in and out," Laudato said. "The athletic field is [near] the asphalt plant. As a mother of a child with asthma, this concerns me. I think there is more that the district and city can do to work together to keep the idea of a land swap alive, to put the high school on the [school] campus setting. I think it would be safer."
Resident Andrew Gibson also spoke out against the high school being located next to an asphalt plant.
"I can smell that asphalt plant [at my house]," said the Deer Meadow Boulevard resident. "The dust comes over to our house all hours of the day and night. When the asphalt plant gets going and there's a project, they'll run [the plant] all night. How are they going to have track meets or football games when there's an asphalt plant 500-600 feet away? It just doesn't seem to make sense."
Resident Todd Teitel said he is frustrated because he wants to see the project move forward.
"Figure this out," Teitel told city and school leaders. "It's been going on for a year. Let's get it moving, let's get it built. I want my kids to have a safe, comfortable environment to learn in. Everybody stop looking for reasons not to do this, find common ground and make it happen already. Enough is enough."
At the Route 303 school campus, the existing high school will be heavily renovated to accommodate grades six through eight, and an addition will be built at Campus Elementary School, following the approval of a bond issue in November. The current middle school and Wait Primary School will eventually be closed. Henry Defer Intermediate School would not be renovated, but would only serve fourth- and fifth-graders, according to the district's plan.
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