The following letter was distributed on November 6 to Hudson Historic District residents living nearby Hudson Middle School. While the message was directed to those who live in this particular neighborhood, it is of equal concern for those who might not be aware of the School District’s plans for the middle school and the City of Hudson.
Dear Historic District Resident:
As you may have read in the Hudson Hub, the Hudson Board of Education has approved a master facilities plan for the Hudson City School District, designed to “address the long-range needs and vision of the District.” The 73-page report is available on the District’s website, www.hudson.k12.oh.us.
One of the sections of the plan (beginning on page 52), addresses options for Hudson Middle School, the oldest portion of which faces Oviatt Street. According to the plan, the District is considering three options for this building:
The Silver Plan will involve renovating and updating current facilities.
The White Plan and the Blue Plan both involve tearing down the existing school and building a new facility on the existing site currently containing both parking lots and buildings. Although the drawings presented are unclear, part of the proposed plan includes relocating parking to a portion of the broad lawn currently located in front of the original 1926 building facing Oviatt Street. (NOTE as of 11/17, Superintendent Herman has said that while a parking lot facing Oviatt St is part of the White and Blue plans, the lot would not reach out any further than the existing footprint of the 1927 building.)
Certainly, all of us who live in Hudson take great pride in Hudson’s public schools. We all want to make sure our children receive the best education possible in facilities designed to help them excel academically. Our community’s support for our schools certainly makes Hudson a special place.
However, what also makes Hudson special is our strong commitment to preserving its historic neighborhoods and streetscape. The District’s White and Blue Plans, as currently proposed, represent a serious and irreversible threat to one of the historic district’s most important neighborhoods. Here’s how:
The existing 1926 building, which has blended harmoniously with surrounding homes of similar ages for almost 100 years, will be replaced with a 21st century structure. No matter how hard the architects try to make it “blend in” with its neighbors, it will never have the authenticity of design and materials the current building displays.
The existing front lawn, which serves as a park-like approach to the building and provides a buffer between the current school building and the neighborhood, will be largely replaced with a parking lot. No amount of perimeter plantings, decorative walls and other streetscaping will provide the same aesthetic as the existing lawn with it majestic trees. (NOTE as of 11/17, Superintendent Herman has said that while a parking lot facing Oviatt St is part of the White and Blue plans, the lot would not reach out any further than the existing footprint of the 1927 building, and the existing front lawn will remain.)
In addition, adding parking in the area facing Oviatt Street, instead of deeper inside the site, will most certainly result in more vehicular traffic in that area, even though the District claims it plans to alleviate that concern. With more traffic, there will be a further threat to both pedestrians on Oviatt and the quiet neighborhood aesthetic residents there currently enjoy.
As others have demonstrated, having state-of-the art school buildings does not mean abandoning historic heritage. One need only walk a block north to Western Reserve Academy to see how historic structures can be adapted to modern teaching. Indeed, perhaps no finer example exists anywhere in the state. A little further away, in Cleveland Heights, the district there currently is in the midst of a complete renovation of its high school located on Cedar Road that will combine new construction with preservation of the historic structure at the core of the new campus.
The decisions affecting Hudson Middle School will be permanent and will have significant ramifications for our historic neighborhood. Hudson Heritage Association is working to meet with the District to better understand its plans. We will share what we learn via our monthly newsletter and on our website, www.hudsonheritage.org. If you do not already receive our email newsletter, and would like to be added to our distribution, please send a request to email@example.com and we will add you to our list.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about this issue, we also encourage you to contact the District directly with your questions or concerns. Please address your comments to:
Philip Herman, Superintendent
Hudson City Schools
2400 Hudson Aurora Road
or, email firstname.lastname@example.org
David (Dave) Zuro, President
Hudson Board of Education
7 Hudson Commons
Hudson, Ohio 44236
or, email email@example.com
Since the period for public comment is drawing to a close, we suggest that you make your views known as soon as possible.
We believe the District needs to take the time to carefully consider other options for this site. We believe there is a way to offer state-of-the-art facilities for our students without sacrificing the aesthetics of an historic neighborhood, replacing a grand lawn with asphalt and demolishing one of the most significant historic public buildings left in our community.
We hope you echo our concerns.
On behalf of Hudson Heritage Association,
Donovan D. Husat