CLEVELAND – The Cleveland City Council Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday morning gave the green light to legislation that would allow the city to purchase the former CMSD Southern High School campus as part of a larger redevelopment plan aimed at transforming the historic closed school into a new training center for the city’s public security forces. The proposed training center complex would allow the Ministry of Public Security to centralize and expand the training of new police, fire and EMS cadets, while providing a bridge between public security forces and members of the the community.
The city will buy the South High School property for just over $ 400,000. However, under state law, this purchase price is essentially waived if the city makes investments in the property equal to or greater than the purchase price. City Real Estate Commissioner James DeRosa said the city has $ 5 million in municipal bonds that will be used to fund the school’s basic remodeling and renovation to refurbish it. functioning.
Opened in 1894, South High School was the second high school to be built in Cleveland. Amid declining enrollment and rising maintenance costs, the school closed in 2010 and remained largely vacant. CMSD uses part of the property for storage.
Security director Karrie Howard said there were a host of benefits to transforming the school into a public safety training center, including the city’s ability to expand recruiting class sizes. as well as the ability for these recruits to have an increased presence in the community, potentially fostering better relationships with city dwellers.
“It gives us an increased presence in the community. We will be able to train officers early in the academy in community engagement, facilitating interactions with traffic, ”said Howard. “This is the very beginning of a pipeline to uniformed security forces high school future plans for a cadet program. It also gives us the ability to clear a floor of the Justice Center where we currently run our police training academy, which is a saving on this lease. “
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the redevelopment plan is a new partnership with CMSD which will establish a vocational training program in the new training center for high school students interested in a career in law enforcement, law enforcement firefighters or emergency medical services. services.
“Our academies will be involved in the program and we will be able to attract young people while they are interested in public safety,” Howard said.
The push for the training center comes amid the increasing difficulty for medium and large cities to attract, recruit and retain new public safety cadets. In addition, the training center could become a regional training site where officers from neighboring departments are trained. This could become another potential source of income for the city, Howard said.
“Frankly, I wonder why we haven’t done it yet,” said City Councilor Blaine Griffin (Ward 6), who has transformed a similar training facility built by the City of Columbus. “It’s basically like having a public safety campus. “
The estimate of the total cost of the progressive redevelopment is not yet known; the city intends to solicit bids and conduct a more detailed analysis of the property.
“It can really be something great – if done right – in our neighborhood to bring young people who often look around their community to aspire to be what they see in their neighborhood,” said the city councilor. Anthony Hairston (Ward 10). “The presence that this installation will bring to this neighborhood, to have this police presence in this neighborhood, I think that would also be an incredible thing for the neighborhood.”
A construction schedule has not yet been established. However, the city is required by state law to make the initial investment of $ 435,000 by 2023. Many council members have expressed their desire to see the renovations begin in earnest.