NOTE: Some corrections and additions have been made today, 12/6/16, including links to new information, so please take special note.
Superintendent Herman has confirmed that he will NOT be asking the Board of Education to vote on a final selection for the Master Facilities Plan at the December 12 meeting. He has assured us that School Administration understands our concerns and is taking time to do more work on the Master Facilities school plan. A final architect has not been chosen, traffic studies have yet to be done, and more details will come to light in the due diligence process. HHA will continue to be a resource for the School Administration and Board, as they explore some new options.
This decision to delay a Board vote at this coming Monday’s meeting will push back the school’s timeline, so that we should expect to see a school bond issue presented on the November 2017 election ballot (not May 2017, as originally anticipated).
We hope you will still consider attending the School Board meeting on Monday, December 12 (more details, below) to learn more about the next steps for the Master Facilities Plan and/or make a comment for the Board’s consideration.
We believe that preserving Hudson’s Historic streetscape AND providing excellent learning facilities for our students are not mutually exclusive efforts, and we are optimistic that we can achieve both ends. Thanks for your support in reaching for this goal.
We want to begin by thanking everyone who attended the recent meeting at Hudson Middle School to hear Superintendent Herman review the District’s plans for the future of the original 1927 building that faces Oviatt Street.
More than 80 residents attended the meeting, and expressed their concerns about the demolition of this cornerstone in the historic district and an important contributor to our distinctive streetscape. Until this meeting, the District seemed unaware that anyone might oppose the demolition of this building, so it was very important to voice our opposition to this irreversible decision.
While Mr. Herman listened respectfully and attentively to our comments, we had no guarantee that any of the issues we raised would be taken into consideration as the district moves ahead with its plans. While the District has presented three options for rehabilitating its facilities, right now, the option that calls for the demolition of the 1927 building is apparently the choice favored by the administration and the board, as confirmed in the November 30 issue of “Hudson Life” from the Hudson Hub-Times.
This is why we are writing again to ask for your help.
If we hope to change the course in which the board and the District are moving, we must let the board know that there is widespread opposition to destroying this building. Many people think this is a short-sighted decision that violates the architectural and historic integrity of Hudson. Here’s how you can help us deliver that message.
First, share this email with your friends, neighbors and Hudson Schools Alumni throughout Hudson and beyond, and ask them to get involved. They may send an email to email@example.com, if they would like to be added to our distribution list for future updates. This issue affects all of Hudson, not just the historic district. If you have friends in the newer sections of Hudson who care about historic preservation and the value of their own homes, make sure they are aware of this issue. (More about that property value issue below). For more detail about the District’s Master Facility Plan, they can access that information here. Details about the Middle School begin on page 52 of the document titled “Master Facilities Plan Flipbook,” found here.
Second, send an email to members of the school board and Superintendent Herman to express your views. Their email addresses are listed at the end of this message. Bios for board members can be found here.
Third, share your thoughts by sending a short letter to the Hudson Hub. You can submit a letter to Editor Andrew Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. It must not exceed 300 words and should include your name, address, phone number and email address. You must be willing to have your name published as the author.
Fourth, attend the December 12 BOE meeting and make your opinion known. The board meetings have a public comment segment and anyone can arrange to speak during that time. Each individual speaker is limited to three minutes. FYI, the December 12 meeting takes place in the High School Media Center and begins at 7 p.m. If you are not available to attend, you can watch it online live, or recorded, here. While we have learned that the Board will not vote on a final plan at this meeting, we do expect Superintendent Herman to share an update of the work being done on this project and next steps.
Fifth, sign our petition, or volunteer to canvas your neighborhood to solicit signatures from those near your home. We are asking the Board to consider other options for the 1927 building, and plan to circulate it electronically and on the streets of Hudson, soon. If you would like to help, contact us at Info@hudsonheritage.org. Our goal is to show the Board that preservation of the 1927 structure is a priority for our community.
Finally, help others get smart about this issue. Here are some points to share with friends, neighbors and in your communications:
• The 1927 portion of the school and grand front lawn fit seamlessly into and contribute significantly to our nationally registered Historic District streetscape. According to a brochure recently published by the City of Hudson, studies have found that historic designation improves a community’s economic climate and raises property values. Not only does the effort to preserve our historic architecture improve property values, it also encourages neighborhood stability. Maintaining high home values directly supports the Hudson Schools by increasing the amount of revenue that goes into the District’s coffers from real estate taxes.
• Many other communities have determined a way to provide effective teaching in historic buildings that are thoughtfully updated to serve current student needs. Outstanding examples of adaptive use in schools can be found regionally in Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, Cincinnati, Akron, Cleveland, Elyria, and Toledo. Even closer, Western Reserve Academy provides one of the county’s most outstanding examples of blending educational excellence with historic preservation.
• The current version of the Master Facilities Plan does not consider an option that would preserve the 1927 building while removing and replacing the later additions. This option should be fully explored and estimated before any decisions are made. In addition to including what some consider to be the District’s best auditorium, the 1927 building has space that could potentially be modified for studios, classrooms, offices and other uses compatible with the District’s curricular needs.
• Replacing the 1927 building with a parking lot would cause serious aesthetic damage to the surrounding neighborhood and lower property values. No amount of perimeter plantings, decorative walls and other streetscaping will hide this intrusion into one of Hudson’s most picturesque side streets.
• For almost 100 years, the 1927 building has blended harmoniously with surrounding homes of similar ages. No matter how hard the architects try to make a replacement building blend in with its neighbors, it will never have the authenticity of design and materials that the current building displays.
• This is the last building standing with any link to the legacy of Hudson’s school district. Thousands of current and past Hudson residents have passed through its doors. Its grand façade and solid structure testify to our community’s commitment to educational excellence. With the demolition of Hudson Elementary one block away (now a vacant lot), this is the only remaining building that provides historic context for our school district.
We are sure you will have many other reasons for preserving this building. We urge you to share your thoughts now, before it’s too late, and consider taking some of the actions outlined above.
Hudson Heritage Association continues to make this issue a priority for our organization. We have been in contact with several other school districts to learn how they have handled providing state-of-the-art learning while also preserving community landmarks. We have contacted the Cleveland Restoration Society the Ohio History Connection, Ohio’s historical society, and Summit County’s Progress Through Preservation group for their assistance, and we welcome any further suggestions. We also intend to continue to communicate with the school board and the District’s administration to see if there are ways we can help them reach an alternative solution that will achieve everyone’s objectives with this issue.
In closing, thank you again for all your support. Losing the 1927 building will have a deep and lasting impact on the historic fabric of Hudson. Most of us choose to live here because Hudson is a unique community with beautifully maintained historic housing, a walkable historic core and, yes, an outstanding school district. We can have an excellent school system in new buildings, but we will never have the other attributes that make Hudson so special if we sacrifice the structures in which our history was created.
Don Husat, President, Hudson Heritage Association
Julie Ann Hancsak, Hudson Heritage Association
Email addresses for Hudson Board of Education members:
David Zuro, President
Steve DiMauro, Vice president
James Field, Member
Patricia Engelman, Member
Tom Tobin, Member
Hudson School District administrators:
Phillip Herman, Superintendent
Doreen Osmun, Assistant Superintendent