How is Millikin development a good idea?
At its meeting on July 20, Cleveland Heights City Council approved sending a letter of intent to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education (BOE), offering to take the Millikin Elementary School building off the BOE's hands for $1, and market the property for redevelopment.
We citizens need to write the city thank you letters immediately. So kind of council members to ask the school district to unload the 11 acres of 200-year-old trees, stables from the Severance/Millikin estate, animal habitat, playground, all-round-beautiful natural area, and the school district's maintenance department's home for $1 and a tax deferment. Why wouldn't we neighbors [consider development] a terrific asset to the neighborhood? And, how would anyone in city government know that we Millikin neighbors might not like the idea?
How? Well, we had a Zoom meeting back in March that Mayor Jason Stein attended. Stein promised us that we neighbors would be apprised of all activities associated with this potential hostile takeover. I did not think that meant that we should watch all council meetings, or be very careful to read all Cleveland.com articles to see if something comes up. But it turns out, I was wrong.
I have so many problems with this proposal that it is hard for me to know where to start. Clearly, the destruction of the neighborhood that I have lived in for 35 years is of importance to me. There will be neighbors who, instead of having trees in their backyards, will have the post office loading dock. I am sure that a developer will promise to plant more trees to replace the ones cut down, and in another 200 years that replacement will be complete. The walking paths we enjoy will be gone, but we neighbors can always walk to a different playground. Too bad the next closest one is two miles away. The old historic stables, who needs old stuff anyway? The gardens that we have lovingly tended? Too bad.
But when I look at why this piece of property would be so coveted, I think of EdChoice vouchers and those who would like to use them. The CH-UH City School District will be shelling out $9.5 million in vouchers this coming school year and, if there were more homes available to the families who live in the neighborhood using those vouchers, the school district could then spend more public education dollars on private education. Not exactly a good proposition for the community, public schools or taxpayers. Possibly, a really bad one.
There are other pieces of vacant land in the area. The old Center Mayfield land is for sale. It might cost more than a dollar, but it would not destroy a neighborhood. This is clearly a developer wanting land on the cheap and a council and mayor looking out for the interests of a small portion of the community.
I am angry. Can you tell?
I reached out to Mayor Stein for comment, but he did not return my phone calls.
Robin Koslen is a 67, almost 68-year-old, who finds herself continually shaking her head and wondering how all this happened. She is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights.