On the future of Millikin School property
To the Editor:
Regarding the discussion about the Millikin School, the residents of Cleveland Heights need to understand the whole picture. There is an offer to purchase the building by a nonprofit organization at what seems like fair market value. There is also an offer from a call center, a business that may bring jobs to the area, which may become a significant revenue stream.
It seems important to see an economic analysis. How many jobs are projected over what period of time, how much in income tax revenue does the city stand to gain from these jobs, and if the call center purchases the building (rumor has it that a lease is being discussed, not a purchase), what price are they offering and how much in real estate taxes will the city gain? Once these factors are known, an apples-to-apples comparison can be made of the two existing offers, strictly in economic terms.
The larger question concerns the sustainability of Cleveland Heights as a healthy and vibrant community. Some of the district’s schools may be scheduled for closure, and, if this happens, neighborhoods may deteriorate further as families send their children to private or religious schools outside the community. Where neighborhoods and schools fail, small businesses will unfortunately follow suit.
The question of selling Millikin is more about the long-term vision, rather than the potential short-term gain in income and real estate taxes. If we don't consider the broader vision for Cleveland Heights, we will end up with big box retailers that we don't need and call centers staffed by people making minimum wage who can't afford to live in the communities in which they work.
The call center belongs downtown in one of the existing vacant office buildings. Millikin School is a treasure with 10 acres of valuable land—because of its beauty, and its seat in the neighborhood, not because of its potential in income tax. That said, a school or the two schools sharing the property can be an asset for Cleveland Heights, with potential for attracting new residents to the area—hence, income tax, real estate taxes, and neighbors who care about and protect the community in which they live in.
Miriam Schuman, a former resident of Cleveland Heights, lives in Shaker Heights.