Lakewood OH

Public-private partnerships sought to germinate funds for high school landscape projects

By Sue Botos

Rocky River

Residents and local businesses may get a chance to see their names in lights on the Rocky River High School scoreboard, or maybe on the back of a courtyard bench or paving brick.

The developers of a landscape master plan for the school will be turning to sponsors to help defray the cost of the work, which is planned to include outdoor classroom space and habitats for native plants and animals.

“Our hope is that we will be able to turn this into a full-blown campus,” said board member Jay Milano at last week’s board of education meeting.

“We won’t just have a beautiful new school sitting on a lot. We will have a campus for the enjoyment of the entire community,” promised Robert Jurs of GGJ Consulting Engineers. Jurs, along with resident Greg Mylett, voluntarily put together a landscape master plan for the high school, which was presented to the board at the meeting.

“We knew we couldn’t just ask the public for money,” stated Jurs, who acknowledged that the funds for the districtwide capital improvement project left little for landscape improvements.

Instead, Jurs said sponsorships will be sought to help fund the projects. At an earlier meeting, Jurs reported that $25,000 has been earmarked for the project landscape budget. He and Mylett have set the goal to generate that amount and more through donations.

“It used to be that we didn’t have to use advertising. Now we don’t have that luxury. It’s a necessity and a good idea,” said Jurs, who assured the board “we won’t be selling a sign for every square inch of Rocky River.”

Mylett, who said he has always been very involved in fundraising, recalled that he initially was going to purchase a tree for the landscape work, but his interest blossomed. Mylett stated that options for sponsorship may consist of the purchase of paving bricks for the circular drive in front of the school’s main entrance, benches and trees. There are also 18 different areas which could be considered for naming rights. These areas include the football field and the new science and music wings.

“We hope to add any additional money to a trust fund for maintenance and going forward,” stated Mylett.

Aside from fundraising ideas, Jurs and Mylett presented their master plan to the board, that located six areas of concentration, including a science courtyard and an outdoor gathering space near the school’s smokestack. The creation of that plan relied heavily on student input.

Two of those students, Damion O’Malley and Mitchell Eyerman, presented their senior science project – a plan for a natural wildlife area

behind the natatorium. “This will be an aesthetically pleasing environment,” explained Eyerman, who, along with O’Malley, showed samples of bat and bird houses they had constructed. They also gave an overview of native plants, which will be used in the area to attract birds and other wildlife.

Science teacher Daryl Knauss gave his students the assignment of designing an outdoor classroom for the proposed science courtyard, which will include varied ecosystems. These areas, according to Knauss, will meet the National Wildlife Federation criteria for certified habitats. There will also be rain barrels for water recycling.

Knauss said student teams were given the assignment of designing a habitat for seven different species of birds. The plans were then sent to Jurs, who chose the most creative efforts for the final plan.

Jurs said that the original design did change as a result of student participation. “Having their input changed our design. Now it includes a more artistic element,” he said.




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