Board makes it hard to discuss Millikin

To the Editor:  

Knowing that a community’s strength and growth are largely due to its educational offerings, why isn't the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education willing to respond to the needs and ideas of a large group of its citizens? A number of us have tried unsuccessfully to have the board address the issue of the deserted Millikin School property, an empty building that has cost the board hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars when our proposal for its use would profit the community and the district.

Being a Cleveland Heights resident (my home borders the Millikin School property), I must voice my concern—no, outrage—over the fact that the CH-UH Board of Education is considering selling or leasing the Millikin School to a call center. In other words, the board is entertaining a move that will turn our beautiful, quiet residential neighborhood into a commercial district. One side of our neighborhood will be this call center and Severance Center, and on the other a Super Walmart or any other number of big box stores.

Generally I try to do things quietly; however, my letters have gone unanswered. I wrote a letter to School Superintendent Doug Heuer and received no response. I have sent letters to the individual members of the board and received only a single response from one member stating that “my concerns have been heard.”

The board has made a discussion of this proposal extremely difficult. The school board meeting that many of us residents wanted to attend to voice our opinion was suddenly changed from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (read: homework and dinner time). At that meeting, we weren't even given five minutes to address the board.

Over the past few years a local parochial school has shown considerable interest in purchasing the Millikin property. Mosdos Ohr HaTorah has made multiple offers for the property; the most recent a true “fair market offer” in the amount of $550,000. This is a very reasonable offer, especially considering that Mosdos Ohr HaTorah will need to invest over $1 million to update the building. A school will bring taxpayers to the community; more commercial activity will drive us away.

We should be trying to build our community up, doing all that we can do to bring people in. Let's take a dilapidated, unused building and make it into a center for learning, a much-needed, community-building boost that we all need.

I would also like to publicly thank all of the members of the Cleveland Heights City Council and Mayor Ed Kelley for taking the time to listen to us, their constituents.

Michael Tohn
Cleveland Heights

Read More on Letters To The Editor
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 1:30 PM, 03.13.2012