Collinwood and Christmas
Our community received an early Christmas gift this week for on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 when the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) backed away from their official announcement made a month earlier that Collinwood High School (CHS) would be officially closed next year. I don’t have to tell anyone what a blow this announcement was. When they officially notified my office on October 18, of their decision to close our historic high school, it hit me like a tons of bricks.
As I indicated publicly at the time, the announcement was devastating. How did we collectively act after the announcement? We started to mobilize alumni, residents, businesses and community activists to form a united front against the decision that we believed would have a devastating impact, not only on our students and their future but the stability of the Five Points Business District, property values and future development opportunities throughout the St Clair Corridor.
Well, they heard us loud and clear. Of the ten schools they were proposing to merge and /or close, there was no greater outpouring than there was for Collinwood High School. I wish to thank everyone who wrote emails, letters, made phone calls, signed petitions, and who attended CMSD Meetings. I further wish to thank Dr. Lisa Thomas and Ms. Louise Dempsey, CMSD Board Members who became major cheerleaders for the Collinwood cause, due to their close relationship to the community. They were a major factor in believing in Collinwood, along with my colleague, Ward 10 Councilman, Anthony Hairston, and another Railroader, who lobbied against their plan. Thanks also to Mayor Frank G. Jackson who took the time to talk to me on three separate occasions about the Long-Term School Plan and the future of CHS. I made it clear to the Mayor that the plan, as presented, would do irreparable harm to Cleveland’s east side, in light of the fact that CMSD had already closed more than twelve (12) elementary schools on the east side over the years.
The closure of CHS and the closure of two (2) preK-8 elementary schools, one being Iowa-Maple School, in Collinwood and the North Glenville neighborhoods, will also add to the loss of additional students and families from our area. The proof is in CMSD’s own documents and statistics; as schools close, families talk with their feet and enrollment drops overall. This has happened far too many times in our city, and especially on the east side. This must cease.
We are in the process of the forming a “Collinwood High School Advisory Team” with CMSD with the focus on programs and curriculum within the building. Watch for future announcements and updates. CMSD owns and operates Collinwood HS on behalf of the taxpayers and our students. We expect them to be real stakeholders in this process and we look forward to working with them to reestablish CHS as a center for learning and advancement.
Work on the Marcella Road / East 185th Street Storm Sewer Project is now in full gear. Work is now proceeding north bound on East 185th Street to Pawnee. Traffic detours are in place! Watch for construction workers, pedestrians, and students who attempt to navigate around the barriers. As traffic has increased on adjacent residential streets, remember that he speed limit is 25 mph and 20 mph in school zones. I appreciate everyone’s patients during this project especially the businesses along the corridor. Please SUPPORT OUR NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES during this difficult process. They need our patronage. So, during this Holiday Season, please, SHOP LOCAL.
As we look back over 2019 much has been accomplished. We continued to address ongoing sewer and flooding issues throughout the ward; we had the opening of the new Oliver Hazard Perry preK-8 elementary school which has been a major addition to our ward; we installed new water lines and hydrants on East 157, East 158 and East 160 Streets in the Waterloo Arts & Entertainment District due to water pressure issues; the $1.5 Million Mark Tromba Playground Project was completed on time in the Collinwood Village neighborhood; the East Side Market opened with great fanfare on May 23 in the Glenville Neighborhood so we could address the “food desert” in the neighborhood; we officially dedicated the new Euclid Beach pier with our Partners at Cleveland MetroParks; and, we had the largest crowds ever at our Friday night Euclid Beach LIVE Concert Series, as well. In addition, the closed and abandoned historic Longfellow Elementary School, on East 140th Street, was officially transferred from CMSD to the City and then, in turn, sold to the Vesta Corporation to be developed into senior housing. We also tore down numerous abandoned, condemned and derelict homes in partnership with the City and\or the Cuyahoga County LandBank, and this will also continue throughout 2020. The historic LaSalle Theatre on East 185th Street is open for special events and the expansion of the parking lot adjacent to the theatre should begin soon. Finally, we were able to have several streets resurfaced this year ie. Coit Road, East 156th Street south of Lakeshore Boulevard, East 168th Street off St Clair, and other residential streets.
I have listed all of these projects because none of these would have happened without partnerships. In this Holiday Season, I wish to thank all who helped in any way to make our community a better place. Our work is far from done. I call upon all residents and concerned businesses to become stakeholders. Get involved in a neighborhood group or organization. The Greater Collinwood Development Corporation is looking for residents, businesses and institutions to join with them in their development activities. Our doors are always open to individuals who care. Let us all recommit to our community in 2020, to make our Ward and the Greater Collinwood neighborhood the best it can be.
On behalf of myself, my Family, Staff and the Greater Collinwood community, I wish you and yours a Happy Chanukah, a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous Kwanzaa. As always I may be reached at my office at (216) 857-7363 or via email at email@example.com.
Michael D. Polensek