Music Settlement announces Coventry project

Good things begin with an idea. And Peggy Spaeth’s idea to reach out to the Music School Settlement of University Circle, it turns out, was a very good thing, indeed. Last year, when the old Coventry Elementary School was being examined for new use, Spaeth, director of Heights Arts, called the Music School Settlement and asked them if they had an interest in a site up the hill.

It turns out they did.

The Music Settlement (they’ve recently dropped the “School”), speaking on October 13 to a crowd of government, library, and school officials, residents, merchants and neighborhood groups, officially announced their plan to build a new $16-$19 million facility on the Coventry Elementary School grounds, tentatively scheduled to open August 2013.

President and CEO Charles Lawrence, a Cleveland Heights resident, outlined plans to raze the building to build a state-of the-art, LEED-certified, green facility to house the Music Settlement’s considerably expanding early childhood, Suzuki, and drop-in programs. Their music therapy and general music programs will remain at the Magnolia Drive campus in University Circle.

Lawrence indicated they hope to purchase the property where the current building sits. Coventry neighborhood institutions adjoining the property, the Coventry Playground and PEACE Park, would remain untouched and under the control of the school district.

The facility will create 60-90 new jobs and will serve 350-550 students. Lawrence said because the comprehensive early childhood education center will also be a training center for early childhood instructors, it will be considered a national model.

They have no architectural designs or architect at this time. The architectural firm Westlake Reed Leskosky has been working with them on the planning process.

Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley enthusiastically endorsed the plan. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to make this happen,” he said. “It will be an economic engine for the city of Cleveland Heights. It has the full support of city council.”

Others echoed his excitement. “We pledge our support,” Eric Compton, President of Coventry P.E.A.C.E., which oversees the volunteer built playground, said. “All of the pieces have come together.”

Lawrence said the Music Settlement wants to work with all stakeholders and is looking for community partnerships in a variety of different ways, including helping to raise at least 70 percent of the funds for the project by the Music Settlement’s centennial anniversary in June 2012. “We need your input. We need your support. And, as this comes with a substantial price tag, we hope you will be a part of the financial support for this project,” he said.

The next public meeting will be held in early 2010. For more information visit www.chuh.org and www.thecmss.org.

Sarah Wean is a resident of Historic Coventry Village.

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 10:22 PM, 10.13.2009