The Stanton Heights Community Organization took another hit recently in their battle to stop construction of a new school in their neighborhood. Although SHCO has filed an appeal to stop construction, Neighborhood Academy, a private institution, has begun clearing the land they purchased for their proposed facilities.
|GREEN SPACE—From left: Residents Jean Bryant, Byron Monroe and Howard Harrington look on at the former woodland.
“They have cleared the land of all the trees. It looks pretty barren,” said Jean Bryant, president of SHCO. “The neighborhood is very upset about what they’re seeing right now which is a barren wasteland.”
The battle over the land began in January 2009 when Neighborhood Academy first presented its plans to the community. Though members of SHCO and some others did not approve of the proposal, it was approved by the city zoning board and Neighborhood Academy moved forward with plans to begin construction.
Since that time SHCO achieved victory in changing the zoning of their neighborhood to ensure a similar situation doesn’t occur in the future. However, now they can only wait for their appeal to be heard in court, which they expect to happen in October.
“We’re waiting for a date in Common Pleas Court. We’re disappointed that they’ve ignored our appeal action,” Bryant said. “We do expect to win. We are very confident that we’ve proceeded with just cause. So if they start to build they might have to eventually tear it down.”
Despite the opposition, Guinevere Anderson, a spokesperson for Neighborhood Academy, said they expect to have the $10 million facility, being built by Massaro Corp., finished before the next school year.
“We have started construction; we started clearing the property. The clearing goes on for another few weeks. They should start with the foundations by the end of September,” Anderson said. “We expect to be in this facility next year. This will be our last academic year in this facility.”
Neighborhood Academy is a college-preparatory school for low-income students, which is funded by private donations from corporations, individuals and other entities. The school provides the students with counseling, transportation, three meals a day and assistance with emergency needs like medical care.
“They’re not suing us, they’re actually appealing the zoning committee’s decision,” Anderson said. “It can be a little shocking to see what’s going on, but we are saving a lot of the green space and we’re going to be planting a lot of trees when construction is over.”
Some neighbors are concerned with the animals and birds living in the woodland that they say is home to deer, red fox, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, wild turkeys, blue jays, cardinals, robins, yellow finches, hawks, as well as recently spotted peregrine falcons.
“I’ve been in Stanton Heights for over 30 years and one of the reasons we moved here is because of the green space. I’m just so upset with what’s going on I almost get choked up about it,” said Maxine Carter. “In my view what happens to even one of your neighbors should affect all of you. It’s just been a wonderful place to live because of the green space. I don’t really think they know how it’s affecting the people in the neighborhood.”