Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Land for school acquired

Kennedy Hts. site for elementary

By Jennifer Mrozowski, jmrozowski@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's school board Monday approved the first land purchase for its planned $1 billion school construction project.

        The board will acquire the site of an abandoned furniture store on Montgomery Road in Kennedy Heights to build a school to replace the 93-year-old Pleasant Ridge Elementary.

        The cost for the Kennedy Heights land: $1.78 million. The district will use payments it is receiving from the city and Hamilton County in place of property taxes for Paul Brown Stadium and the Reds' new Great American Ball Park.

        Construction could start as early as next summer on the 450-student school, to be located at 6620 Montgomery Road.

        Throughout the decadelong building project, Pleasant Ridge school will house students moved from other schools while new buildings are under construction and other buildings are being renovated. Around 2011, the historic school is scheduled to close.

        “The current site is too small to renovate,” said district spokeswoman Jan Leslie. ""It's right on the road and parent pick-up and drop-off is a problem.”

        Pleasant Ridge Community Council members say they accept the move, even though the new school will not be in their neighborhood.

        “It's hard to grow the school where it is now,” said community council President Jeff Terlinden. “There's no greenery and the school buses back up on Montgomery Road.”

        The current site, which is 4.6 acres, has only 3 acres of usable space, said Kent Cashell, the district's chief operating officer. The land behind the school drops off and can't be used for recreation, he said.

        That will change at the new site, which is just over 4 acres, and will accommodate a bus drop-off or turn-around, Mr. Cashell said. The site is level, rectangular and is adjacent to 4 more acres of green space and a ball field.

        Mr. Cashell said the district will work to find a new use for Pleasant Ridge school, rather than demolish it, when it's no longer needed.

        The new Kennedy Heights school is one of 35 the district plans to build as part of the $1 billion plan. Thirty-one schools are to be renovated.

        To pay for the project, the district will have to ask voters to pass a $480 million bond issue. Property taxes would rise $143 a year on a home with a market value of $100,000.

        The board on Monday also started the process to place the bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot. Though the board has not yet approved a November vote, it must take steps now for November to be an option.


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