ELYRIA — City Council did its part Monday to help Elyria Schools.
Members unanimously voted to reduce the fees the district would have to pay to the Building Department related to the $126 million school project that will see five new schools built in Elyria in the coming years.
The reduction — 50 percent of all building permit and plan review fees — in addition to waiving re-inspection fees and only charging minimal costs should the district have to resubmit any plans will save Elyria Schools more than $350,000. The amount is critical as it helps district officials keep the project under budget, of which 67 percent comes from the state through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, called the vote historic for the city and the kind of decision that younger generations will talk about as adults.
“That will be the story that is told,” he said.
Madison said the story will continue with a new chapter when the first shovel of dirt turns over at the former Hamilton school site, which will become the new McKinley Elementary School.
“Hopefully when we break ground, it will be something we can all take part in it,” he said.
The state will decide to give Elyria final approval in July, something school officials are confident will happen as the district’s master plan underwent a re-engineering process that shrinks the square footage while meeting the price ceiling.
Resident Penny Lynch of East Avenue said during the meeting before the Council vote that she wanted members to eagerly do their part to help the district.
“Watching the school board do every thing they can to pull it together so we can to get that five-school plan was amazing,” she said.
The plan, which gives Elyria five new elementary and middle schools including three campus-style K-8 buildings on the east, west and north sides of town as well as K-4 elementary schools at Ely Elementary and on the city’s south side, was in question two months ago when school officials learned the project exceeded the budget by millions.
“It was a blow to so many of us,” said Lynch, who help organized residents to speak out at a school board meeting and petition board members to save the south side’s planned new school.
The outcome — recommitment to the plan to build five new schools including one on the city’s south side — has been nothing short of impressive, she added.
In other news
City Council members voted to accept more than 35 acres of land annexed from Eaton Township.
It is the final step in a years-long process to bring the land near Chestnut Commons into the city to pave the way for future development.
Law Director Scott Serazin said the property developer wanted to come into the city, and the county’s commissioners voted to approve the annexation months ago. Council just needed to sign the required legislation — after holding a public hearing — to formally accept the parcels.
During the meeting, Eaton Township Trustee Jason Monschein made a final appeal to stop the annexation. His plea to Council was not enough.
Ralph Nash, who lives on Chestnut Ridge Road, also spoke in opposition to the project. Nash said the annexation would leave his residential township property surrounded by commercial city property. Creating such an island is against the law, he said.
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