Almost a quarter-century ago, the portion of Fairview Avenue between First and Third avenues in Grandview Heights was converted into a cul-de-sac and closed to through traffic.
Now, as Grandview Heights Schools prepares to embark on a $55.2 million facilities project that will result in a major renovation of the high school at 1587 W. Third Ave. and construction of a new building for grades 4-8 between the high school and the Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School on Oakland Avenue, the city and school district are talking about potentially reopening Fairview to traffic.
Once the existing Edison/Larson building is demolished after the facilities project is completed, "there will be an opportunity to do something at the site along Fairview that will benefit both the community as a whole and the schools whether the road is opened up or not," Mayor Ray DeGraw said.
The school sites are part of the Education and Community Hub, one of three areas identified as "civic hubs" in the proposed Civic Spaces and Places Plan drafted as part of the city's Growing on Tradition strategic planning process. The plan will be reviewed and a final version presented to Grandview Heights City Council for approval.
The education hub includes the area near the Grandview Heights Public Library and Grandview Heights High School and Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School.
The Space and Places Plan draft recommends the city consider "programmatic and space- need partnership opportunities" with the school district and the library.
"After the current Edison building (is) demolished, there would be an opportunity for us to create a community park at the site that would provide recreational and activity space for students and the entire community," DeGraw said.
The location of a new city park would encompass the current site of the Edison/Larson building, he said.
Fairview between First and Third avenues was closed to general traffic after the city and school district reached an agreement in 1995 for the city to vacate the street and the district to design and finance creation of a cul-de-sac.
Council minutes from that time do not specify why the roadway was closed but indicate it was at the district's request.
Residents who live on Fairview near the schools have access to the roadway, and a parking lot is on the east side of the high school building along Fairview.
Farther south toward First Avenue, a play area for Edison/Larson students is near the kindergarten annex building and an Edison/Larson parking lot.
Each proposed site plan that has been presented for the school facilities project places a new play area for students on the west side of the site adjacent to Oakland Avenue, not the east side near Fairview, Superintendent Andy Culp said.
"No matter what would happen with Fairview, it wouldn't impact students using our new play areas," he said.
If Fairview were to be opened, the project would not be included as part of the school facilities project, Culp said.
"Reconnecting Fairview from First to Third would be a city project," DeGraw said. "It would be funded and completed by the city."
Any potential improvements to Fairview would wait until after the school facilities project is completed in 2023, he said.
"We'll expect to begin work on constructing the new (grades) 4-8 building by the end of the year, and once students from those grade levels move into the new building, we'll be moving our high school students into the old Edison/Larson building while their school is renovated," Culp said.
The demolition of the Edison commons and construction of the new 4-8 school between the high school and current Edison/Larson building is projected to take 18 to 24 months to complete. The subsequent high school renovation project is expected to take 15 to 18 months.
"We're a long way from any final decision about Fairview and a potential city park being made," DeGraw said.
"We have time to gather feedback from the community, consider our options and make a reasoned decision about what would best benefit the community and the schools."