The residents say the school would eliminate their neighborhood’s only ‘park’ and force the destruction of dozens of trees.
The new school would be built on the site of Cudell Commons Park, near West 98th Street and Detroit Avenue. Some residents feel the school district should either find another location or preserve more green space.
More than a dozen protesters stood outside the East Professional Building, ahead of a Tuesday evening school board meeting for the school district.
The protesters are calling for the district to change its plans to build a new Marion Seltzer school.
“The school district’s plan, right now would cut that park’s size by 44%, so we would have 44% less park, and in addition, the building would require 40 trees to be killed,” said resident Nikki Hudson, with an organization called Friends of Cudell Commons Park.
“That Cypress tree is 230 years old. That tree was planted before the birth of the city of Cleveland,” said resident Faouzi Baddour.
“I know there have been some claims that it’s 100, 200 years old. We have no evidence of that,” responded Patti Choby, with Cobalt Group, Inc., a consultant for the project.
The current school would be demolished and moved north on the park land, with new football fields and a parking lot where the current school stands.
Choby says they are trying to save as many trees as possible, but some must be taken down.
“There are 65 trees on site, 31 of which will be preserved and then there are 34 other trees that are in varying conditions. Good, fair, and poor. We’ve got about five Ash trees that need to be taken down because they’re diseased and there’s another half a dozen or so of weedy trees,” said Choby.
“They did this behind closed doors. Earlier plans that they shared with the public didn’t involve taking up 44% of the park or cutting down 40 trees,” said Hudson.
The consultant was asked can the school design plans be altered to save any trees.
“The short answer to that question is ‘not likely’, and the reason being is that to modify the building footprint would not only take design time but would also delay construction time,” Choby responded.
She says it would also be more costly.
“If we keep cutting down these big trees and building on park land, we’re not gonna have any green space left,” said Hudson.
Consultants say they plan to replace some of the green space after construction.
“We’ll work with the community to pick the species, try to get trees that are fast-growing and have large canopies,” Choby explained.
Shortly after the meeting, Nikki Hudson told FOX 8 that the situation seemed “promising” and felt well-received and that the school board would try to figure out a solution.
Choby says the architects also considered making the school three stories tall, instead of two…but says that would not have saved much green space.
Originally, construction was scheduled to begin this month, but now the district says the crews are on “standby” and there’s no hard date to begin.
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