By: Sharon Aron Baron
After last year’s proposed charter school move was scrapped after residents protested building in a park, the City of Coral Springs is proposing a new location – in another park.
On Tuesday, they announced a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Architecture and Engineering to provide a design for the new Coral Springs Charter School.
Between the Coral Springs Gymnasium and the police and fire building, the proposed location is a grassy area intended for a field but is used as a parking area during games.
In a statement, the city said that “moving the school is an important component of their strategic plan, as the current location in the downtown area is essential for business, and downtown development is a catalyst to improve their tax base.”
They are asking interested companies to design a campus-like environment to incorporate pedestrian connections to the police and fire building and the performing arts center. The new location will also allow a larger amount of students to enroll.
Currently located at the corner of Sample Road and University Drive, the school is owned and operated by the city, holding the charter. The city also owns the land and the building.
The city contracts with Charter Schools USA for the operation of the school, and they would continue to operate the school on the city’s behalf as well as serve as the “landlord.” Charter Schools USA would fund and finance the costs of constructing the school building and parking garage if required. They would then lease the building to the Coral Springs Charter School.
The city posted news about the RFP on their Facebook page, opening a pandora’s box of comments from residents.
Kathi Rush: “Not cool, Coral Springs. I seem to remember residents fighting this at Mullins Park a few years ago and fighting it again at Betti Stradling Park just one year ago. Now we are back to Mullins Park? The residents have spoken. Not in our public green spaces.”
Brian King: “Perhaps this should go to a citizen vote. Many of us do not want to lose green space. I’m not thrilled about giving up space to a charter, even CSCS, for which the charter is held by the city, not Charter Schools USA. I think City Hall proved that Coral Springs does not know how to run a large, financially responsible project. Downtowns are not a given success. I will appreciate seeing the plans and business case based on successful and unsuccessful downtown projects.”
Tina Quaranta-Robertson: “Not again. Why must it always be a park? Not opposed to a move, but make USA Charter pay for the building and relocation. The residents of Coral Springs want green space and parks!”
Manju Sathyapalan: “This school is the pride of Coral Springs. I’m very disappointed that the city is insisting on moving it from the current location.”
Ady Garcia: “I’m concerned if this is going to increase our property taxes even more? Or maybe decrease because some of it goes to our parks, now that we are giving part of it?”
Debbi Rosen Gentile Barradas: “Why don’t you just put it in my freaking back yard!!!! That school does not belong in Mullins Park!”
Rosemarie Jensen: “Oh, so not cool. What a nice land grab for Jon Hage.”
Ronnell Ferrell: “The charter school that Coral Springs residents can’t get into? Residents, not a priority charter school?”
Eric Rosenauer: “What “business” need to go into the area where the school is now? More eyesore office buildings that go mostly empty? Does this mean you’re going to move the library also to make room for these imaginary businesses? Isn’t most of the heinous building on the corner on University and Sample empty? Why would building more on the same site bring more business if what is there now doesn’t?”
Casey Ahlbum: “I understand the desire to move the school, and it makes sense if done right. Why are we insistent on using green space and land already dedicated to city parks? What about unused land in the industrial park, or how about the vacant lot next to CGHS and across from the aquatic center? This needs to be better thought out, in my humble opinion!”
In 2015, the city proposed moving the charter school to Mullins Park, and after protests, that idea was dropped. Last August, the city also scrapped plans to move the charter school to Betti Stradling Park after residents protested at an informational meeting in the Coral Springs Gymnasium.
Interested businesses must send in their letter of intent by September 10, and a decision on which proposal they will use will be held in October. The city commission will vote on the relocation at a later date.