TROY — On Wednesday, following a 90-minute executive session, the city of Troy’s park board of commissioners voted 2-1 to enter into a memorandum of understanding to transfer Hook and Cookson School park land to Troy City Schools as well as entered into an agreement to form an evaluation team to plan for former school sites — all contingent on the school’s bond issue passing on March 17.
Next, the recommendation will be presented to the city council’s Parks and Recreation Committee before going to council for consideration.
Chairman of the park board Al Kappers voted against the memorandum with Susan Westfall and Jordan Emerick voting for it.
“I still believe we ought to have park land available for our inner city neighborhoods. We are losing two neighborhood parks and we are not gaining any neighborhood parks,” Kappers said.
Kappers had previously stated he sought an arrangement for the schools to build on dedicated park space adjacent to Cookson and Hook and in return the park board would receive available land from school district sites that will be demolished.
“We’re happy to move forward,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Chris Piper. “Clearly from the MOU (memorandum of understanding), the transfer from those park properties will come to us if we get a ‘yes’ vote in March so we can move forward with what we think is a pretty good plan for our schools.”
Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington, who was part of the executive session discussion, said, “It’s way too soon to talk about vision for the properties, as the process will include soliciting request for proposals from the development community. We envision that the Community Improvement Corp. will control the properties from a development side, as the CIC offers us the most flexibility in redevelopment process and options.”
The CIC is a quasi-government non-profit organization that promotes community development with the ability to bypass government controlled processes.
The development team will include a representative from the city, CIC, the Board of Park Commissioners, Troy Development Council and Troy City Schools “to select redevelopment projects that benefit the Troy community.”
Titterington said the development team will also be guided by the city’s Riverfront Corridor Study with regards to Kyle and Van Cleve property. Titterington has seats on both the Troy Development Council board and the Community Improvement Corp. Piper has a seat on the TDC.
If the school district’s bond issue passes and moves forward with its new facilities plan, the agreement would include:
• The city of Troy to transfer the 8.25 acres at Hook and Cookson sites (Hook Park and Campbell Park) by the end of 2021. The city would continue to schedule and manage new ball fields constructed on the new school sites, including the Swailes Road and State Route 718 property. The school district will be in charge of maintenance of the ballfields.
• The city agreed to form a evaluation team, along with the schools and Troy Development Council, to evaluate school properties the district will not reuse following the construction project. If properties are deemed worthy of redevelopment, they could be transferred to the city’s Community Improvement Corporation.
• If the “development” team identifies a vacated school-owned property for potential redevelopment, the team would select projects that would be beneficial to the Troy community, which would include dedication of a portion of the property to greenspace.
The Troy City Schools agreed to the following conditions in the MOU:
• Provide six youth-sized ball fields, including backstops and dirt infields to the same specifications as exist currently at Hook and Campbell Parks. One backstop and dirt infield would be installed at the current Cookson site or “East Elementary School” and the Hook Elementary School site or “North Middle School.” Two backstops and dirt infield properties would be installed at Swailes Road property or “South Elementary” as well at the State Route 718 property replacing Concord Elementary of the “West Elementary School.”
• The Troy City Schools agree to allow the city to utilize the ball fields for youth-related baseball and softball programs for at least seven years. The Troy City Schools agreed to provide the city of Troy with a minimum of two years notice of its intent to reuse the property and shall support efforts to relocate any displaced ball fields.
• The district would demolish all “surplus property” at the Van Cleve Sixth Grade building, Heywood and Kyle School buildings including remediation of any environmental issues including final grade and seeding of the demolition sites.
• If the Heywood and Kyle sites have not been contracted with third parties for redevelopment by January 2023, these sites will be transferred to the Troy Board of Park Commissioners for use as park land.
• Troy City Schools would then transfer property at Van Cleve not retained for annex and parking use by Troy City Schools to the city of Troy no later than by the end of January 2023 for redevelopment consistent with recommendations from the “evaluation team.”
• Transfer any playground equipment deemed surplus to the city of Troy’s park board.