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Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools and city of Brecksville would share school cafetorium and field house, under proposed agreement

August 7, 2018

Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools and city of Brecksville would share school cafetorium and field house, under proposed agreement

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio – The Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools’ new elementary school would stand next to Brecksville’s proposed athletic field house on the city-owned 185-acre Blossom Hill property.

The city and school district would share the field house and the new school’s cafetorium. The district would use the field house during school hours and for sports tournaments, and the city would use the cafetorium for meetings and events during non-school hours.

The city would give the district 25 acres at Blossom Hill for the new school and the district would give the city the 3.6-acre Central Elementary School property on Royalton Road, along with 10.5 district-owned acres on Stadium Drive.

It’s all part of a memorandum of understanding, or preliminary agreement, between the city and schools. The school board unanimously approved the agreement Monday night. Brecksville City Council has not yet voted on the memo, which was not on their Tuesday-night agenda.

“This is an evolving (memorandum of understanding) and . . . council is considering this current draft, which may be revised,” Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby told cleveland.com in an email. “There will be added MOUs in the future that may amend the current draft.”

Under the proposed agreement, the city and schools would build the field house and elementary school simultaneously and share construction costs, including those for surveying, geotechnical studies, environmental assessments, utility installation and construction testing.

“The city and district believe that there are substantial savings to be generated by simultaneously developing the field house and new school,” the memo states.

Hruby said the city hopes to start building the field house, which under the latest design would contain four sports courts and a turf field, in 2020.

O Monday night, Chris Smith – architect with ThenDesign Architecture, a Willoughby firm the district hired to design the new elementary school – told the school board that the new school would open by fall 2021.

ThenDesign is also designing the city’s Blossom Hill field house and an enlarged aquatics section at Brecksville Community Center.

Swapping & sharing

Last year, the schools unveiled a plan to build one new elementary school that would replace four existing schools, including Central, along with Chippewa, Highland and Hilton elementary schools.

The district is reducing the number of elementary schools partly because of declining enrollment. According to a 2015 report, total enrollment in the district has dropped steadily, from 4,724 in 2006-2007 to 3,948 in 2015-2016.

In May, voters in the school district approved a 2.2-mill bond issue that will pay for the new elementary school. Hruby had proposed the land-swap with the district three months earlier.

On Monday, Hruby told cleveland.com that the city has not decided what it will do with the Central school property.

“We will consult with an architect about the future use, discussing all options,” Hruby said.

As for the 10.5 acres the district owns on Stadium Drive, Hruby said the city would continue to use the land for recreational purposes. The property contains athletic fields and a community garden.

“And we’ll share (the property) with the schools as we do other recreational facilities,” Hruby said.

Detail digging

Hruby said the city will build the field house on the western portion of Blossom Hill. The school would stand next to it, although precise locations haven’t been determined.

The field house is still in the design phase. Regarding the price tag, Hruby said it’s too early to “quote an estimate.”

Here are additional details in the memo of understanding the school board approved Monday:

The new 160,000-square-foot elementary school would include a playground that would be open to the public.The city would allow the district to use the field house during the school day and at other times when the city isn’t using it.The district would have complete control over the new school’s design but the cafetorium would be positioned close to the field house. “It makes sense to adjoin them together as common area, with the educational wing strictly for school use,” Hruby said.The city would pay ThenDesign for the field house design and the district would pay ThenDesign for the school design.The city and district would hire one construction manager for both the field house and school. The city and district would pay construction-manager costs related to their respective projects, but both parties would save by sharing some costs related to construction management.The city and schools would share the costs of building parking lots and shared ballfields.The city would own and maintain the field house and the district would own and maintain the elementary school.

Wetlands factor

On Monday night, Smith of ThenDesign told the school board that wetlands on the proposed Blossom Hill site will delay construction of the new elementary school.

Smith said the city in December 2016 hired Chagrin Valley Engineering Ltd. in Cleveland to delineate wetlands at Blossom Hill, as required under law. The city now must obtain permits from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build on property with wetlands.

Smith said OEPA approval isn’t expected until January or February 2020, and federal approval would likely come in March or April of 2020. Construction can’t start until those permits are given.

If the district found its own school site without wetlands, construction could start in September 2019, Smith said. However, the district would lose savings it would realize by partnering with the city.

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