Jim Workman, agent with Bender Realty, presented an option off of Georgetown Road/Highway 60. He described the potential school as being located west of the new Walgreens drug store. The 20 acres of land is owned by Hyde Property.
“This piece of land will be grade-ready. You will have no surprises. Everything will be ready to build on,” Workman said. “You [the city] will not have to move any dirt. All utilities will be at this property.”
Dirt will be moved by the property developer when the deal is closed.
“They do not have the kind of money to move the dirt [without a commitment]. Your money would be escrowed or bonded — it would be protected and the dirt would then be moved to another piece of property,” Workman said.
According to Workman, school buildings constructed on the property will be two feet above flood level. All parking will be one foot above flood level. This means roughly 14 acres will be above the flood zone.
Site committee members gave the property a critical eye. School board members were also in attendance to learn more about the land. Questions were fielded by Workman and his two associates: Charles Brown from Brown Surveying and Breck Bowlin, a civil engineer with Land Development Solutions. Members asked about the physical capacity of the land, geo-thermal heating, potential wetlands space, surrounding establishments, building costs and traffic.
Murl Dirksen, site chair, told Workman the city school system is always interested in expansion. This includes building new schools, as well as expanding existing schools to meet the increasing student demand. Workman assured Dirksen there would be plenty of room for expansion.
“Once you purchase this land, you do not even have to build a school,” Workman said.
Quipped Steve Morgan, “We don’t have a lot of money just for real estate investments.”
A growing student population has made finding school property a pressing concern. The City School Board and site committee are looking at specs for a school large enough to fit 500 to 700 students.
Dawn Robinson suggested board members focus on a school for 700 students. A school that size would allow room for growth and provide much needed space. New apartment buildings, like the ones being built on Adkisson Drive, project a steep growth for city school population.
“What we are trying to do is give you a price we can compete with and hopefully you are in the right area to build a school with all of this growth,” said Charles Brown of Brown Surveying. “If you choose another piece of land, then once you add grading and things like installation of utilities it just adds up higher and higher.”
Board members realize a decision needs to be made as soon as possible. Steve Morgan, committee and board member, recommended the school board take a look at the Hyde Property option. Tom Cloud, school board chair, said he is in favor of the recommendation.
“I liked this property from day one when we originally looked at it. I like it even more now that those apartments are going in behind Denny’s,” Cloud said.
Board members said they realize a decision needs to be made as soon as possible.
Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of city schools, said he believes the Cleveland City Council sees the need as well. Locations need to be considered in case funding is provided.
Dawn Robinson agreed. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we are hoping the funding will come through. It would be an egg in the face to all of a sudden get the money, but have no land to purchase [due to stalling],” she said.
Morgan said new locations will be looked at with the old.
“The committents that we made on the prior piece of property were made in good faith that we would get what we are being offered on this piece of property,” Morgan said. “We are in a position where we have to move forward.”
The possibility of the Hyde Property will be explored by the school board. Brown said he could mark off the property for the board members to see the physical layout. Due consideration will be given to the location.