By Jeff Gallatin
School district officials said last week they got a little smoother path to dealing with traffic and safety issues in the middle school area after the North Olmsted Landmarks Commission approved demolishing an old annex while tabling action on another school-related proposal.
District officials plan to demolish the annex by the middle school to create additional space for buses and parents’ vehicles when they drop off and pick up students in the area located by the middle school off of Butternut Ridge Road. Officials currently plan to use the additional space to try to alleviate congestion by placing the buses in one area and the parents’ and other smaller vehicles in others. If the plan proceeds on schedule, district officials would demolish the annex this summer and have the more open area in place in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year in August.
In the related matter, the commission tabled until May a district request to demolish the former Thompson house, which is also located in the area district officials are hoping to clear to create better traffic patterns for the middle and high schools. Commission members sought the extra time in an effort to find support for moving the house, which they believe was built in the 1830s, to the Olmsted Historical Society’s Frostville Museum campus in the Cleveland Metroparks. Society officials have indicated they would like to try to find funds to restore and preserve the structure on the campus, where they already have several other historic and restored buildings.
“I’m optimistic. I think there’s some interest in doing something to keep the building on the campus,” Paul Schumann, chairman of the landmarks commission and a former president of the historical society, said. “We need money and assistance to do it, so we have to go looking for it.”
Local businessman Jack Boss, who has assisted historical society officials with many other projects, when asked by the commission, said he would check with another businessman who also has assisted the society with similar moves in the past, if he thinks there would be a way to do it. The other businessman is currently out of the state for the winter and will return in a few weeks.
Terry Krivak, interim superintendent for the district, said demolishing both structures would create a better traffic flow and help add momentum to district proposals to create an education campus in the current middle and high school campus areas. As Krivak outlined the proposal in his recent state of the schools address, the current middle school area could be razed and a new high school could go in there. The current high school, located off nearby Burns Road, could be converted to a middle school. The proposal also stated the district could consider picking the best three or four of the current seven primary and intermediate schools, in which to place the lower grades.
Krivak said demolishing the annex and creating a better traffic pattern at the current middle school is a good step.
Middle school Principal Thomas Dreiling said parents are interested in making the area better for students coming and going from school.
“It’s drawn a lot of interest,” he said.
Dreiling said there have been complaints for years about the traffic congestion.
“I’m excited – it looks like we’ll be able to create a better traffic area for everybody,” Dreiling said. “We’re going to get to work on setting up the best locations for the different vehicles to go to.”
Both school officials said the district will preserve an old Butternut School marker in the annex and use it in construction of other new school facilities.
Krivak said the district is willing to wait until May to see if the historical society can find money and support for moving the Thompson house, but added a cautionary note.
“My understanding is they proposed something similar for moving it in 2009 and weren’t able to get much support for it,” he said. “But we’re willing to let them try it again.”