Westlake schools, city announce land deal
The Westlake City School District and the City of Westlake announced on March 6 an agreement in principle on a joint land exchange and infrastructure improvement deal that best serves the entire community.
After passage of a combined 2.1-mill bond issue and permanent improvement levy, the school district and city agreed to an appraisal process to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to their stakeholders. That process is now complete and paved the way for this agreement.
The agreement, in summary, involves the following:
- Westlake Schools will take ownership of a 29.4 city-owned acres on Center Ridge Road next to Westlake Porter Public Library to build an elementary school for pre-kindergarten to Grade 4.
- In exchange, the City of Westlake will take ownership of 42 acres of district-owned property on Bradley Road, as well as the former administration building at the corner of Dover Center Road and Hilliard Boulevard.
- The district also will sign over the deed to its Parkside property – which houses administrative offices and the Board of Education – to the city. The district will rent the property for $1 per year with a buyback option over the next 10 years. The city retains the right to use the building’s gymnasium, sports fields and auditorium for municipal events during the lease period. The district will maintain the grounds during the lease period.
This agreement is not limited to an exchange of land. The city agreed to fund about $1 million in improvements on Center Ridge Road, including a traffic signal and turning lanes, to accommodate increased traffic. The city also is dramatically reducing permit fees for the new elementary project.
Discussions on this agreement have been in process for a period of time with both sides working toward a solution that benefits the community as a whole. Westlake City Council and the Westlake Board of Education will soon vote on the deal.
“The mayor and City Council have been open and engaged in this process. In addition to properties being exchanged, this agreement contains beneficial considerations for the school district in the form of road upgrades, a traffic signal and a reduction of permit fees,” said Superintendent Scott Goggin, who praised the city for being “good partners.”
“It is a deal that provides benefits for the entire community – the city gains flexibility in its future planning and the district can move forward with our new elementary school.”
Goggin said the agreement means the school district will maintain its high school campus on Hilliard Boulevard, the Dover campus on Dover Center Road, and the four elementary sites, while adding the Center Ridge Road elementary campus. In addition, the district retains the opportunity to reintroduce the Parkside property back into its portfolio.
“This agreement will provide the City of Westlake flexibility for future planning and projects as it relates to recreational and senior needs,” said Mayor Dennis Clough, who maintained that this will not only address current school needs but will assure a brighter future for the entire community.
With this agreement, the district can move forward on construction of a new PK-4 elementary campus. The goal is to create learning spaces that best serve the needs of our students while meeting the expectations of the community. The city gains more flexibility as they move forward with future projects. Construction is scheduled to begin in August, with a projected opening for the 2019-2020 school year.