Kudos to Mosdos Ohr HaTorah for their efforts to purchase Millikin. I only wish they had lent their considerable public relations savvy to saving Oakwood, which, just like Millikin, is also in their backyard. Who knows, if they had lent a hand, maybe their neighborhood would be better off today?
But, that is not relevant to the discussion about Millikin.
Only 2 things matter about Millikin:
- How much money will the community get from its sale or lease?
- Is the community better off if this land is owned by the public or by the private sector?
Sale to Mosdos or another non-profit will yield no tax dollars other than the income tax of the people who work in the school. The community will get a one-time lump sum. If the building is sold to an organization that does pay property taxes, then the community will get money from the sale of the property and property taxes every year going forward.
Cleveland Heights city government is in the process of revising its zoning code with the goal of making our city more sustainable; the document states explicitly that greenways should be established in the community.
Is Cleveland Heights’ concern about sustainability real, or just part of a marketing plan? If the concern about sustainability is real, city officials will move to establish all or part of Millikin (including the 2 parcels that lead to Severance Stables and directly to Severance Town Center) as permanent greenway. The property can be placed in a conservation easement.
The best compromise is to do what many others have suggested: negotiate a long-term lease with Mosdos. That way they get the school and the community gets to establish a greenway and keep some much needed public space.
A related issue: Jason Stein is a member of Cleveland Heights City Council and as such is charged to safeguard the interests of all Cleveland Heights residents. He is also a member of Mosdos Ohr HaTorah. He has been publicly advocating the sale of Millikin to Mosdos. This appears to be a clear conflict of interest. What do you think?
A final word about this important decision. Let’s not romanticize about the use of Millikin as a school vs some other use. All uses have their costs and benefits. I don’t know about you, but I never noticed that schools only bring out the best behavior in people.
Thanks for hearing me out!