Residents pack Newbury trustees meeting to discuss school ownership | local government
A crowd of about two dozen residents filled the hall at the Newbury Township Trustees’ meeting on January 19. Almost all attended a discussion about the fate of the former school property in Newbury.
Following the July 2020 transfer of territory from the Newbury local school district to the West Geauga local school district, the township and district spent more than a year negotiating a lease-to-own agreement for $100 up to until the district announced that it had other plans.
School board chairman Bill Skomrock told the meeting that he was unhappy with the communication between the school board and the township.
“I feel like they treat us like red-haired stepchildren,” Mr. Skomrock said. “They don’t give us the respect this community deserves.”
Administrator Greg Tropf reiterated his agreement with West Geauga’s latest letter, which expresses urgency for action on the property and hints at a departure from what was previously discussed. He cited the estimated costs in studies commissioned by the township and district just to open the gates to the property, which run into the millions, and the cost to operate per year, which has been estimated at between $250,000 and $300. $000, Mr. Tropf said.
Mr Skomrock said he disagreed with the figures and said they were “inflated” in studies commissioned by West Geauga.
‘I can’t imagine people with ice cream cones crossing the street at an intersection at 45 mph’ was Mr Tropf’s response when Mr Skomrock asked him about his ‘vision’ for the Newbury campus . Mr Tropf questioned why Newbury should build a community center on campus at 14775 Auburn Road when West Geauga has expressed plans to build a similar center just six miles away.
Mr Skomrock also blamed Mr Tropf for not attending meetings, saying it was his “responsibility as a fiduciary”.
“You’re so upset about the school closing that you can’t move on,” Newbury task force member Kimya Matthews told Mr Tropf.
Angered by the comments from others, Mr. Tropf walked out of the meeting and returned a few minutes later, saying he’d rather leave the meeting than say something he would regret.
Mr. Tropf later told The Times that many of the statements made by the task force and participants were opinionated or not factual. He also took issue with Mr. Skomrock’s moderation at the meeting.
“The chairman of the board lost control of the meeting,” Mr. Tropf said in a statement. “There was no order. There were several conversations between the participants. There were arguments between the participants. I agree that members of the community should be able to talk and ask questions, but only one person should speak at a time. All questions should be directed to the board and answered only by the directors, not the public or the task force members who were present. This meeting was a disgrace total.
Mark Miloro, who is not a Newbury resident but attended the meeting on behalf of local theater group Curtain 440, addressed the trustees.
Curtain 440 had been in talks with the township for about a year about leasing part of the property, along with Snowbelt Music Productions, Geauga Knights, Geauga County Public Library, and more.
Mr Miloro said that, without the pandemic, Curtain 440 was ready to move into one of the buildings and start putting on shows and did not need all the money West Geauga said he had. Would need.
“I don’t know where they got this idea,” Mr Miloro said. “Would it be nice to have new seats?” Sure. Would it be nice to have handicap ramps going up to the stage? Of course, but there is another way to access the scene. … Is all this necessary? A few things, maybe.
At the task force meeting, a plan was discussed to address West Geauga one more time on behalf of the township at their regular January 24 meeting.
The directors will meet on February 2.