Mayor Infeld to host town hall meeting on March 12 about proposed Saybrook Park

Preserving open green space in our highly developed community is a recurring issue, surfacing recently in the hotly debated plan for construction of a retail development on the property of the former Oakwood County Club. Now there is an opportunity to convert the largest remaining green space in University Heights into a city park, and the matter will be the subject of a town hall meeting hosted by Mayor Susan Infeld on Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at the Wiley Middle School auditorium, 2181 Miramar Boulevard, University Heights.

The property in question is the former Fuchs Mizrachi School, a 6.8 acre site at 2301 Fenwick Road within the large block bounded by Fenwick, Silsby, Saybrook, and Faversham roads. The site has been vacant since August 2010 when the Orthodox Jewish day school moved to Beachwood.

The current effort to convert the site to a public park began with University Heights resident Brett Teacher, who lives a few blocks away. He began talking with other neighbors last summer about their hopes that the open green space would be preserved as a city park. He and his friends canvassed the neighborhood and determined that there is wide support for the idea. "I think it would be great to preserve the green space as a city park to benefit the whole community," Teacher said. "We have enough buildings and pavement already, what we need to do is keep the open green space we have left." Teacher notes that there are existing baseball and soccer fields and a playground on the site that could be used in a city park immediately, but at this point he is reluctant to speculate on how else the site might be utilized. "The important thing now is to focus on the city acquiring the property," he said.

Teacher and his neighbors formed Citizens for Saybrook Park, which has a Web presence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CitizensForSaybrookPark. Teacher reports that about 15 to 20 residents turned out to support the idea at a meeting held on Feb. 21, also attended by Mayor Susan Infeld and Councilwomen Pam Cameron and Susan Pardee.

Infeld is enthusiastic about acquiring the site for a city park, but she is committed to gathering input from residents before proceeding. "This is a unique opportunity to acquire the last piece of large green space in the city," she said. "I am in favor of using the green space as a public park." She added that she is holding the town hall meeting "to get feedback from residents on the proposed acquisition."

Teacher is pleased with the mayor's efforts, saying she has done "a great job" on this issue. "It is important that people go to the meeting because that could make the all the difference," he said. "The mayor needs input from residents to validate the use of city funds to create this park." If people can't attend, they should contact the Mayor at 216-932-7800 or mayor@universityheights.com to express their opinion.

Jeff Coryell

Jeff Coryell is a FutureHeights board member and a member of the Sustainable Heights Network steering committee.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 10:35 AM, 03.06.2012