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Published: 2/14/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Plan commission OKs charter school for YMCA building

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Despite pleas from North Toledo residents for a second delay, a charter school group won approval from the Toledo Plan Commission to convert the YMCA of Greater Toledo on Summit Street into classrooms.

The fate of the building, however, remains in limbo, as an official with the charter school said the school would drop its plan if an agreement is reached with Toledo Public Schools to use the property for a “community hub” that includes a Head Start school.

As they did at a meeting last week, representatives of ONE Village Council and Toledo Public Schools once again urged commission members to defer action on Horizon Science Academy’s application until the school district learns the fate of its $13 million Head Start grant proposal.

Last month, the plan commission tabled the special-use permit request for 30 days to give residents and neighborhood leaders an opportunity to have meetings with the YMCA and the charter school group to discuss the plans.

The YMCA is under contract to sell the building, which houses offices and a fitness center, to a school management company that runs Horizon Science Academy. The charter school wants to relocate the K-8 school in the downtown Secor Building to the YMCA location.

However, the grant to operate the local Head Start program submitted by TPS includes plans for a birth-to-second-grade center with medical and health services and Head Start school.

The application for the special-use permit must be reviewed by City Council’s planing and zoning committee March 19, and acted on two weeks later by the full council, a timeline that commission member Ken Fallows pointed out would likely coincide with TPS learning if it will receive the federally funded Head Start grant.

“It is not about expected outcomes. It is about timing,” Mr. Fallows said.

Terry Glazer, who heads the community development corporation United North, said TPS is in discussions with the YMCA to absorb the Summit Street location for the Head Start program.

He said the two parties are about $500,000 apart in the price, but there are discussions to trade for in-kind services and a possible contribution by the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring comprehensive services to one of the lowest income neighborhoods in Toledo,” Mr. Glazer said. “This would be a tremendous boost to the neighborhood.”

TPS is the lead agency in a collaborative effort for the only plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate the Head Start program.

Murat Oguz, director of Horizon’s West Toledo branch on Sylvania Avenue, said his charter school has agreed to break the contract with the YMCA and drop its plans if TPS and the YMCA can reach an agreement for the property.

“We have authorized the YMCA to go ahead and enter into negotiations. In the end we will accept their offer, and we will walk away,” he said.

Mr. Oguz said the charter school would only ask that it be paid back for the money invested in architecture, design, and other costs.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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