City Council agrees to hold public meeting on future of Coventry School site
In response to requests from Coventry Building tenants and residents, Cleveland Heights City Council decided to delay the issuance of a Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposal (RFQ/RFP) for the Coventry School site until a public hearing is held. At its Council Committee of the Whole meeting held immediately prior to the June 19 City Council meeting, CH City Council decided to remove from that evening's council meeting agenda a request from the city manager to receive proposals for the redevelopment of the Coventry School site.
At the June 5 CH City Council meeting, attorney Lee Chilcote, speaking on behalf of the Coventry tenants, stated that there was “a disconnect” between what the RFQ/RFP draft called for and what citizens had called for in 2008, when they recommended to the school board that the Coventry Building become an arts center. One of three requests that Chilcote made of council was that a public process be conducted prior to the issuance of the RFQ/RFP.
More than 100 Cleveland Heights residents packed Council Chambers for the June 19 meeting, and 15 people spoke in support of more public input to the RFQ/RFP and more time for Coventry tenants to make relocation decisions.
Coventry tenants’ spokesperson, Jack Valancy, a member of the Ensemble Theatre Board of Directors, said the tenants had three requests: one-year leases, 90 days to determine tenants’ needs within a redeveloped Coventry School site, and meaningful input into the city’s RFQ/RFP for redevelopment of the Coventry School site.
At the June 19 Council Committee of the Whole meeting, city staff circulated a copy of draft #6 of the Request for Qualifications and Preliminary Development Proposals (RFQ/RFP, pages 19-35 of the packet for the June 19 meetings). According to the schedule in the draft, the RFQ/RFP was to be issued on June 20, with submissions due by July 24. The city was scheduled to have selected a development team with which to begin negotiations by October. It is unclear how the addition of a public hearing at the outset of the project will affect the timeline.
The date for a public hearing about the future of the Coventry School site has not yet been set.
The city’s economic development department staff recently reached out to Coventry tenants to schedule individual meetings to learn about their needs and requirements in order to assist them in a potential relocation.
Mayor Cheryl Stephens invited the public to attend a joint meeting of CH City Council and the CH-UH City School Board that will take place on Monday, June 26, 7 p.m., at the Board of Education (BOE) building, 2155 Miramar Blvd. School district spokesperson Scott Wortman said that the meeting could potentially be relocated to the Wiley site (which is next door to the BOE) if public attendance is expected to be high. He also stated that although the BOE typically does not have public comments at work sessions and special meetings, he will ask BOE President Ron Register to consider it in this case.
The tenants of the Coventry School building have created a group on Facebook, www.facebook.com/groups/nonprofitscoventry/, to share information with the community. The group’s request for a 12-month lease has not yet been addressed by either the city or the school district.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer. FutureHeights is one of the Coventry Building tenants.