The North Canton City School District wants to consolidate Greentown, Northwood and Orchard Hill schools into one school. The new elementary is planned for 988 students.
In a March 13, 2017, Repository story, staff writer Kelli Weir quoted Superintendent Jeff Wendorf stating, “While the locations of the new buildings have
not been decided, Wendorf said one elementary building likely would be located at Clearmount Elementary, which is in the southern portion of the district. He said the district would need to purchase additional land for a northern elementary site because the existing 10.3-acre Greentown Intermediate property is too small for an elementary school that would need roughly 19 acres” (bolded for emphasis).
In total contradiction to these remarks and also a totally illogical choice for construction of a school building, the School District has chosen to build a new Pre-K through Second Grade school on the 9.6 acre Charlotte property which is polluted with industrial contamination that has migrated in the groundwater from the former Hoover Company property. Mitigation of the contamination on the property will increase construction costs by several hundred thousand dollars, but the School District officials apparently do not care since tax dollars are plentiful and more are available simply by asking.
If the 10.3-acre site at Greentown was too small to rebuild on, how is it that now the 9.6-acre Charlotte site is adequate for a school?
In addition to the added costs to taxpayers to protect students and staff from the toxic substances on the property, there are other negative impacts that will result for the public. Property acquisitions will be required and road widenings made by the City could cost two million dollars or more. The North Canton YMCA Daycare will have to relocate all their outdoor activities at a cost guestimate of $50,000, not to mention the loss of parking for their staff and the public.
Lastly, there is the impact to the North Canton Library as the library will lose their overflow parking on the Charlotte property.
Fearful of the impact of the loss of that overflow parking, the North Canton Library Association Board has entertained what can be called an underhanded smoke-screen arrangement offered by the School District.
That arrangement requires the Library to purchase properties abutting the south side of the Charlotte property along Portage and then to donate those properties to the School District. Two parcels have already been purchased by the Library at a cost of $180,000 and donated to the schools. It is my understanding that the Library will be required to purchase a total of four parcels along Portage and subsequently donate those parcels to the School District to meet the demands of the agreement.
In exchange, the District would allow the Library continued shared use of the Charlotte property for overflow library parking.
At $90,000 per parcel, property acquisition for four parcels will cost the Library $360,000.
Why the subterfuge?
These demands place a financial burden on the North Canton Library.
Why doesn’t the City School District acquire these properties directly and spare the Library the financial burden?
Better yet, why not build the new school building on the nearly 16-acre Northwood Elementary property?
A grassroots group of citizens known as North Canton Citizens for Safe Schools wrote to Superintendent Wendorf in September of 2020 with concerns that the Charlotte property is contaminated and much too small per guidelines detailed in the Ohio School Design Manual.
The efforts by the School District to strong arm the North Canton Library to purchase and donate additional acreage certainly supports citizens’ concerns that the 9.6-acre Charlotte site is undersized and wholly inadequate for construction of a school destined for nearly 1,000 children.
The North Canton City Council and Mayor Wilder need to examine the choice made by the North Canton School District to place nearly 1,000 small children in a congested, noisy property in the heart of downtown that is greatly undersized and contaminated. Despite road improvements, this poor choice will lead to traffic tie-ups and congestion for all citizens who must traverse the area.
Prepared comments made to North Canton City Council by Chuck Osborne, June 28, 2021