October 23, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville to unveil school plans at forum

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The community may get its first look at what its proposed $58.1 million middle school may look like during a community forum next month.

The session is 6 p.m. Sept. 10 in the community room of the North Ridgeville Education Center on Mills Creek Lane.

The purpose of the meeting is to disseminate more information to residents — and to get feedback from them — about plans for the new school for third through eighth grades and the new $5 million stadium.

“We want to share details of our site plan with everyone to give them an idea of where the new building and stadium will be and what they may look like,” Superintendent James Powell said. “The architects want to get some feedback, too, from people. They want to know, ‘What do you want the building to look like?’ ”

Although school officials have yet to see any renderings of possible designs for the new school, they anticipate several to be presented of the planned 200,000-square-foot school by ThenDesignArchitects, the Willoughby firm hired to design the school and stadium.

Powell noted the city’s Historical Society and Planning Commission have indicated their support for a Western Reserve-style look, which typically incorporates brickwork and elements of architectural styles ranging from Greek Revival and Federal to Georgian and Queen Anne, and earthy red, brown and orange colors.

“We don’t know yet whether that means we’ll have that style, or if it can be a combination of elements incorporating a more modern feel,” Powell said.

Having the first actual drawings of potential looks for the new school is a key step in the planning and design process, Powell said.

“It’s hard to ask people what style the new school should be without giving them some styles to look at,” Powell said.

Officials also are anxious to know how the new building will mesh with the high school, which is adjacent to a 100-acre-plus site on Bainbridge Road owned by the school district on which the new middle school and stadium will be built.

The administration has been holding weekly meetings with TDA representatives.

“Each week we ask questions about what changes we could make to this or that,” Powell said. “We want to know what will that do to the plan if we moved this piece over there. It’s like moving chess pieces on a board.”

A recent example of these what-if talks involved discussions over where to locate the new middle school playground.

“There was talk of if it needed to be next to the cafeteria, or should it be next to the third- or fourth-grade wing of the building,” Powell said.

Yet to be determined are where to put traffic signals and turn lanes, as well as parking lots.

“Traffic is a huge issue,” Powell said. “It’s awful getting into the school, and we want to control that, and alleviate it as much as possible.”

Other big questions concern adequate drainage for stormwater, and whether construction will affect any identifiable wetlands, as well as a stream that goes through the area.

“The site is being evaluated right now,” Powell said. “We have to go through the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, submit a plan, and get it approved. All that takes about 120 days.”

All this is another reason for the Sept. 10 meeting.

“We want to help people understand why the process takes so long,” Powell said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.