The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Horizon, neighbors spar over driveway

Council to consider street petition, constructi­on

- By Richard Payerchin rpayerchin@morningjou­

Leaders of Horizon Science Academy said a new Regina Avenue entrance would reduce congestion and improve emergency access around the school at 760 Tower Blvd.

Neighbors say they don’t want loads of school traffic disrupting their quiet dead-end street.

Lorain City Council could make a decision when the governing board resumes regular public meetings in September.

On Aug. 23, council members pondered the issue in a public hearing that sometimes grew contentiou­s as a scheduled 30-minute review stretched to just over an hour. About 27 people attended, along with council members Beth Henley, Rob McFarland, Pamela Carter, JoAnne Moon, Mary Springowsk­i and Mitch Fallis, with President Joel Arredondo presiding.

Regina Avenue residents Brenda and Eric Brock and Mindy Shawver petitioned the city to vacate a strip of that street that exists on paper and as grass, but never was paved. It appeared that move would block access to Regina Avenue from the campus of Horizon Science Academy, which sits just south of there.

They were the first called to the microphone for the public hearing.

Horizon Science Academy already has driveways on Falbo Avenue and Tower Boulevard, and could have access from Washington Avenue.

Shawver said she moved in last year assuming it was a dead-end street. Then came the letter from Horizon Science Academy stating city officials approved a plan to create the new entrance.

“I don’t want this street, I see no need for this street,” Shawver said. “Adding another driveway there is stupid, in my concern.”

Adding a driveway will cause drainage problems because the school’s property sits higher than the neighbors, she said.

Eric Brock said he would do what he needed to do to protect his property, the neighbors’ and their property values.

Tom Springowsk­i, who is the husband of Councilwom­an-at-Large Mary Springowsk­i, read a letter with his reasons opposing the new driveway. Mary Springowsk­i read a letter on behalf of their son, Paul, who still lives there.

Sharon and Jack Lewis and Lynette and the Rev. Dave Rogers also spoke against the proposal.

Horizon Science Academy is a guest in Lorain that wants to roll over the residents, Jack Lewis said.

“The Council, you’re our watchdog, we rely on you to protect us from stuff like this,” he said. “We’re getting older and we don’t want this on our street.”

The driveway would be a convenienc­e for the school but an inconvenie­nce for the residents, Sharon Lewis said. Residents made it clear to school staff in 2019 that they did not want the street open, she said.

Horizon Principal Daniel Sumer, Assistant Principal Jayson Bendik and board member Marie Bonilla all spoke, as did a number of educators from the school.

The academy has grown from 90 students when it opened in 2009, to enrollment of 850 this year, with about 100 staff.

Bonilla, who had children, grandchild­ren, nieces and nephews in the school, proposed opening the street after she saw a teacher trying to get out of the parking lot gridlock when students were dismissing.

Bonilla said she was stuck in line too and wondered if the school could add a faculty driveway to Regina Avenue.

“These teachers give 110 percent of their time, effort, love to our children,” she said. “They are molding or preparing our children for what the future holds in store for them. I thought, why not give back to them and make their lives a little easier?”

Bonilla apologized for any inconvenie­nce, but said she is a taxpayer in Lorain. The intention is not to send buses or students through the driveway, but is for emergency use for faculty.

Sumer read a letter from a staff member who described the school’s dedication to best practices in education. The Horizon colleagues agreed on the school’s family atmosphere.

Horizon Science Academy has tried to reach out to neighbors so they understand the school, but none have, Sumer said.

The best way to support property values is through job opportunit­ies and good education. Horizon Science Academy has outperform­ed Lorain Schools since 2009, Sumer said. Meanwhile, the school officials do not dictate to neighbors how to model their homes or property, he said.

School attorney Nicholas J. Dertouzos cited previous case law in his letter to council stating the city officials should deny the petition to vacate.

At times the speakers traded jeers and scoffs. Council President Joel Arredondo ordered the front row of visitors, generally made up of Regina Avenue residents sitting directly behind the microphone, to move to another row of seats, or leave.

Horizon Science Academy also is known for serving for years as Lorain Catholic High School.

 ?? RICHARD PAYERCHIN — THE MORNING JOURNAL ?? Lorain City Council held a public hearing Aug. 23about a petition to vacate a strip of Regina Avenue, a move by residents to stop neighborin­g Horizon Science Academy from opening the street to make a new driveway to the school.
RICHARD PAYERCHIN — THE MORNING JOURNAL Lorain City Council held a public hearing Aug. 23about a petition to vacate a strip of Regina Avenue, a move by residents to stop neighborin­g Horizon Science Academy from opening the street to make a new driveway to the school.

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