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Residents Want to See City's History Stand Through Old School

Multiple people spoke out to city council Tuesday to save the 93-year-old building.

The Twinsburg Old School was built in 1920 and could be demolished soon. Credit: Twinsburg Old School Committee
The Twinsburg Old School was built in 1920 and could be demolished soon. Credit: Twinsburg Old School Committee
For months Twinsburg resident Michael Turle has been heading a grass-roots movement to save Twinsburg's Old School from demolition, paving the way for an updated downtown.

At the Tuesday, Aug. 27 city council meeting, Turle rallied his supporters to ask city officials to postpone the demolition and look for a way to renovate the 93-year-old building, with little cost to the city.

"I am asking of one of our councillors to have the courage to make the motion to suspend any efforts toward demolition put to a vote of the people the preservations of the Twinsburg Old School for a fine arts center," Turle said.

At the end of the meeting At-Large-Councilman Gary Sorace made the motion to ask the Architectural Review Board to postpone the demolition at it's Sept. 5 meeting. Sorace and Ward 2 Councilman Bob McDermott were the only members to vote in favor as it was turned down 5-2.

Save the Old School

"Safeguard the heritage of Twinsburg, by preserving structures or sites that represent its time," Irwin Gemlich  of Ravenna Road, said to city council, leading off the ranks wanting to share their thoughts Tuesday.

Many cited the historical meaning of the building which was built in 1920 and was Twinsburg's only school until the late 1950s. It was closed as a school in 1992.

An emotional Virginia Wetzel, now of Bedford, said the aging building is the one thing that welcomes her home to Twinsburg.

"One of the few things that had not changed was the Old School," she said.

Others took a more creative approach to share their thoughts. Mary Welsh Koohnlein shared a poem a friend of hers had written on the fond memories of the building.

"It's not just the building you destroy, it's your own history you forsake," she read.

In 2012 a local architect told the city it could cost anywhere from $5 to $8 million to renovate the building. Sheryle Kvitko chairs funding and research for the Save The Old School campaign. She said those numbers weren't accurate after calling the same architect.

What they want is much different than a feasibility study, Kvitko said, to renovate one section at a time would be much less costly.

"We've done so much research," she said. "It's a beautiful building. Knocking down the Old School, you're destroying the history of people who live here. Give us a year and let's see what we can come up with.

Turle said after the meeting that he was disappointed but appreciated the council members who tried to hold off on demolition.

"What's the big hurry on bringing this thing down?" Turle said. "Let's look at some options."
Joyce Harney August 28, 2013 at 01:12 PM
It would be an absolute shame to destroy such a main part of Twinsburg's history Reconsider this plan!!!
Bibby Battiest August 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM
I am no longer a resident of Twinsburg, but I still have family and friends who still reside in Twinsburg. I am in Twinsburg frequently and still bring my buisness to that city. I have stated repeatedly to my family and friends (some who are still residents, others who are no longer residents) that it is heartbreaking to see what Twinsburg has become. The loss of what was "our Twinsburg" is felt every time I am there. Not one person has disagreed with me. Some progress was needed and some things are welcomed, but the city has already gone much to far. As one person already stated, the school is one of the only things left. I feel as most of this administration is blinded by the "shiny and new" factor and could care less about what the people want. It's not their history they are destroying, it's ours. Disgusting behavior for people who are supposed to be representing the public. Two of the most desirable areas to live in around here are Chagrin Falls and Hudson. If you look around both those towns you see beautiful old buildings that have been restored. Yes, they have new also, but they did not destroy the towns charm by tearing all the old buildings down. And, they have "walkable downtown areas." (Seems to be the buzzword right now) They figured out a way to make it work. I'm pretty sure the right people could do the same for Twinsburg.
Nassman August 29, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Keeping the old school will take an exorbitant amount of money that the CURRENT residents of Twinsburg will have to pony up. I am OK with the huge number of non-residents chiming in about tearing it down however do you really think that you should be advising us on how to spend our money? Maybe your passion and determination can be put to better use for a cause in the town where you live and pay taxes.
Virginia Wetzel August 29, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Yes some of us are currently non-residents however I grew up in this town. I've seen it turn from a quaint little town into an Unrecognizable shadow of its former self! Change is not always good. I would also like to comment on the money issue. That's what historical grants are for and many of us have
Paul Flynn August 29, 2013 at 07:39 PM
The Old School is a historic building and should be saved. There are many options out there to help off set the financial burden to the city. The building can be used by and for the people of Twinsburg. The laws of the city of Twinsburg, do not allow of the demolition of a historic building, so lets follow the law of the city and use some elbow grease and look for ways to save this historic building.
Paul Flynn August 29, 2013 at 07:41 PM
I have also been a resident of the city of Twinsburg for 52 years.
Nassman August 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Many options Paul? I have been hearing this from the "save the old school" group forever but never hear you guys elaborating on those options. Please, instead of all the emotional pleas bring some facts to the table! Where is the money coming from? Specifically please. PS I am also a resident of Twinsburg
Paul Flynn August 31, 2013 at 06:55 AM
Nassman, if that is your real name, you must have missed the town hall meeting and the council meetings in which the "save the old school" group did give options.
Nassman September 01, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Of course my real name is not Nassman, that is what friends call me. My name is Nasser Ejaz and I have lived here for 13 years. I have watched your meeting on youtube and most council meetings. I was at the last council meeting to learn specifically of the "funding options". All I heard was that there are "hundreds" of grants available. Is the mere availability of grants reason to change plans for our community? I even heard at one meeting a member of the group claim that they knew a business that was interested in moving into the old school. Has that information been relayed to the city yet? I asked in my previous post the the specifics of the funding options, I guess I assumed correctly that they do not exist since that point was ignored
Peter Hale September 03, 2013 at 11:23 AM
If you haven't heard options, Nassman, you haven't been listening. The Number One Option is the City HAS the money, close to 30million dollars. Number Two, they have a mandate as per Zoning and Ordinances Chapter 1170. If you haven't seen that, perhaps you should try Googling it. We have also mentioned many successful Preservation/Renovation projects in this area that can serve as models. Fries and Sheule-Ohio City, Turners Mill- Hudson, Solon Arts Center. Brecksville, Aurora, Hudson all have saved key historical elements of their communities. If you and the council can't see this it is because you are living in denial or have other vested financial interests in demolishing The Old School. I am a Twinsburg resident btw. Even so, former mayor James Karabec, reported by the Twinsburg Bulletin to be a resident of Florida has spoken at City Hall. While he was directly involved in the community he was FOR retaining the Old School for the community but now that he has moved on he is siding with the present administration. Makes one wonder, why?
Peter Hale September 03, 2013 at 11:28 AM
One more thought Nassman. We don't want to CHANGE plans for our community, we want to finally, after years of wanton destruction by The City, to KEEP the plan we have. At last council the Mayor proudly showed a 2007 Comprehensive Plan with the Old School being demolished like it was the Holy Grail and perfect proof that the school should be razed. I see it as perfect proof that the City has a history of ignoring our Charter and Zoning Ordinances to suit their personal agendas.
Jonathon September 03, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I'm a resident and a voter, and right now, I'm asking for some additional time... Why the rush to demolish the Old School? Unless there is a plan in place that the public hasn't been informed of??? So, what is the harm in letting a group a people try and find some funding/use alternatives and determine the true cost of some renovations options. I believe that it would be "fiscally irresponsible" not to look into all the possible alternatives. As it has been previously mentioned other cities have saved/renovated/re-purposed buildings much like the Old School. So it's not like we're the first, there are plenty of models for us to follow.
Nassman September 03, 2013 at 05:27 PM
So I voice my free speech here and because it doesn't agree with yours you have to track my family down and harass them? Whoever is leading this coordinated attack please stop it.
Peter Hale September 05, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Everyone but you has been civil here Mr. Nassman.
Michael Turle September 06, 2013 at 07:57 AM
Ditto Peter Hale, one only has to click on your name here Mr. Nassman to read your previous comments about anything you commented on. You have been uncivil on this issue, and on others..,

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