by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, June 2017) At a May 24th community meeting, area residents and stakeholders received an update on the new west side high school planned for the former Max Hayes High School site on Detroit Avenue between W. 45th and & W. 49th streets. The meeting, held at St. Paul’s Community Church on Franklin, also addressed a Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District project that will use a portion of the Northeast corner of the school site, and noted plans to design a pocket park for Tillman Triangle just Northwest of the school site.
Patrick Zohn, Chief Operating Officer of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Ed Shearson, an architect for the project from the CEDA Design Team, said construction on the building is expected to start in the Spring of 2018 and be finished by August of 2020 in time for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The cost to build the 132,800 square-foot school building on the 5.03-acre site is currently estimated at $32.5 million. The new facility will have the capacity to serve 800 high school students. The school district expects the new facility to house two small high schools. The names of those schools and the curriculum to be taught, have not yet been determined.
Shearson explained the new school building will be designed to promote walkability and connection to the neighborhood. There will be two buildings connected by a bridge. The buildings will be close to Detroit Avenue with parking in the rear on the Tillman side of the school.
A media center, on the far eastern end, will feature views of Lake Erie downtown Cleveland and will help to showcase the building to people passing on the nearby Shoreway. Classrooms will stretch westward from the media center in the same building. Each of the two schools will have a floor of classrooms in the two-story building. The schools will share the media center.
A second building, to the east of the classrooms, will house a gym, cafeteria/auditorium also to be shared by the two schools. Zohn said the gym will have bleachers and an 800-1000 seat capacity. The two buildings will be connected by a bridge.
The entrances to the two buildings will be on the Detroit side in a plaza area between the two buildings. There will be bicycle racks for 44 bicycles with some of the spaces being sheltered under the bridge that connects the two buildings. Parking for cars will be on the north side of the building. People will walk from the parking lot under the bridge to the plaza by the main entrance.
Zohn said most of the students are expected to take public transit to the school. Others would walk or bike to school. He estimated that only 33 students would drive to school and another 198 would be dropped off by parents.
Following the presentation on the layout of the new school, Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone and Stephan Janosko of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) explained sewer district’s role in the project. Zone explained that originally NEORSD wanted to place a pump station on the site of a former gas station at the southwest corner of W. 45th and Detroit. Zone said to preserve that site for future development, the sewer district was persuaded to place their station on the northeast corner of the school site at W. 45th and Tillman.
Jonosko said the NEORSD Project Clean Lake is building a 9,600 foot long, storage tunnel from University and Scranton to the Westerly Treatment plant. The tunnel will go through shale bedrock 200 feet below the surface under Abbey Avenue and W. 25th Street on its way to the W. 45th Street and Tillman site. It will be used during heavy rain storms to prevent combined sewer overflows. Jonosko said a bar screen about 250 feet below the surface will collect big debris. He said a pocket park will be built around the NEORSD station on the school property. There will be an electrical panel box above grade and vent pipes to exchange air. He said the site will have a manhole cover surrounded by a concrete pad or paving stones. This will allow access to the tunnel 250 feet below the surface. Jonosko said he didn’t expect odor control to be a problem as the tunnel will only be used during rain events.
Councilman Matt Zone talked about plans for a park on the Tillman Triangle at W. 49th and Tillman. Interested residents can participate in a design charrette for the park. Zone said City Planning and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District would help with the park which will feature vistas of Lake Erie.
Residents asked if the bus stops in front of the new high school would be covered. Zohn suggested the school district could work with RTA on that matter. Zohn said RTA is open to public art at the bus stops if additional funding can be raised.
In response to complaints of dust blowing from the construction site, Michael Scaparotti of construction company, ICON-CMR TEAM, promised to have the lot seeded with grass by the end of May. A request was made that, once there is grass on the field, it be left as an open field until construction starts.
Zohn promised to have school maintenance staff clean up debris on the tree lawn behind the school on Tillman.
Councilman Zone noted the school district promised robust landscaping to shield Tillman residents from the parking lot to the rear of the school. The slide projection of trees selected for the landscaping showed only one native tree. Shearson, of the CEDA Design Team was asked to look into using all native trees in the landscaping of the new school. He said he didn’t believe native trees would withstand the urban environment. An Environmental Scientist in the audience said the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Tree Plan both had lists of native trees that would do well on the site. She offered her services pro bono to help select appropriate native trees and gave her card to a member of the design team.
For those interested in helping to design curriculum for the two new schools a spokesperson for the district said meetings would not be held until June of 2018. The spokesperson said the district was currently involved in designing six new high schools and redesigning 13 K-8 schools, so work on curriculum for these schools could not begin until after next school year. Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack offered to help with a grass roots curriculum committee from the neighborhood for those that wanted to begin having input earlier.
Editor’s Note: Questions or comments concerning the new schools and the construction plans can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.