On February 5, 2018, at a special public board meeting, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees voted to authorize the library’s purchase of the Coventry PEACE Campus from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. The title will be transferred to the library on March 31. The library will pay one dollar for the six-acre property, which includes the former Coventry Elementary School, a playground, parking lot, and adjoining green space. Ohio Revised Code allows school districts to transfer property titles to libraries in their communities.
The Coventry PEACE Campus abuts the library’s two-acre property at the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, which includes its Coventry branch.
The sale comes after months of debate over the fate of the property, which began in May 2017, when the school district announced its plans to sell the campus to the city of Cleveland Heights for redevelopment. At the time, the building, the former Coventry Elementary School, housed several civic and arts-related nonprofits, including Ensemble Theater, Future Heights, Reaching Heights, Artful, Family Connections, and Lake Erie Ink, under the umbrella of the Coventry PEACE Campus Initiative.
Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin says the library plans to maintain the status quo, keeping the current tenants, and preserving the green space, playground, and parking lot for now. Levin hopes the Library can provide a supportive bridge for the tenants that will eventually lead to their ownership of the building.
“Our goal is for the tenants to be independent,” says Levin. “We don’t want to be landlords–we will be acting as a kind of incubator, supporting the tenants until they can take over ownership and management of the property themselves.” Levin adds that any money the library spends on the property will be reimbursed from rent money and a reserve that the tenants will be required to maintain as part of their rental agreement.
Levin points to the language in the property’s original deed, from 1917, stating that the land is “for public and educational use,” as the inspiration to get involved.
“The PEACE Park is a popular and much-loved public space that attracts community members from all walks of life, and complements the existing Coventry commercial district,” says Levin. “We look forward to working with the Coventry PEACE Campus Initiative to protect and preserve this community asset.”
The CHUH School Board will confirm the sale at its February 20 meeting. Before purchasing the property, the library will perform its due diligence, conducting a title search, a land survey, and an environmental study.