David Sholem email, Oct 3 2015, Chamber 10


Thanks for your email with information aerial photos of Option A and Option B for the possible expansion of Central High School on its existing campus. Option A would appear to be the least expensive alternative since it incorporates the McKinley YMCA real estate into the site without the condemnation of dozens of nearby private residences and apartment buildings. Option A details were excluded when Option C analysis was provided to me by Unit 4 attorney Mike Tague, and Option A details are what I have been seeking and continue to seek.


I note the information which you provided shows the footprint of Options A and B, but excludes estimated construction costs for implementing Options A and B.  If available, it would be helpful for me and other members of the public if the cost estimates for Options A and B could be disseminated too. If Option A and B cost estimates were not prepared by BLDD Architects when the Option A and B footprints were prepared, the question remains “why not?” since those options appear to be viable, less expensive alternatives which could be considered by Unit 4 in lieu of construction at the northern high school site.


Your email message was very confusing to me with respect to its reference to the role of Mark Ritz and BLDD Architects.  I did not engage Mark Ritz or anyone else at BLDD Architects to prepare Central HS renovation studies. Here is what happened:


  1. I never contacted Mark Ritz or anyone else at BLDD Architects by email, telephone, in person or otherwise to discuss the possible redevelopment of Central High School. In fact, I have never spoken with any architects about Unit 4 school development alternatives, other than Neil Strack, who like I, is volunteering time to analyze high school costs and alternatives to the construction of a new high school at the northern site which Unit 4 already purchased.
  2. Mark Ritz called me at my law office late this summer and told me that he had been engaged again by Unit 4 to analyze Central High School ‎redevelopment alternatives at the high school’s current site.
  3. During our telephone conversation, Mark indicated Unit 4 representatives had described to him my suggestions for the expansion and redevelopment of Central High School at its current location. Mike was calling me because he wanted to understand what I had proposed to Unit 4 school board members so my suggestions were not lost in translation when he performed his work for Unit 4.
  4. During our conversation, I explained that I felt Central High School could be expanded by what BLDD Architects subsequently labeled as Option A (a) having the City of Champaign vacate Park Street, north of the high school, a concept which I had also discussed with a Champaign City Council member who agreed it was a viable concept, (b) building an addition on the faculty parking lot and Park Street, north of the high school, and (c) acquiring the McKinley YMCA real estate for less than $500,000 (its recent sale price) by condemnation, with the YMCA real estate used for student parking, faculty parking, and if enough land remained, an athletic field and marching band practice area.
  5. Mark asked a few questions during the telephone call concerning my views of the need for a new cafeteria, swimming pool, band room and third gymnasium at Central High School. I answered Mark’s questions and suggested many of the additional building improvements which he identified could be viewed as desirable, but non-essential add-ons, which should be priced “a la carte”, as one would do when deciding to build a house.
  6. Mark thanked me for my thoughts, which he indicated were helpful to his work for Unit 4, and I have not spoken with him or communicated with him since that phone call took place.
  7. Thus, any Central High School renovation work product prepared by Mark Ritz was clearly completed for Unit 4 rather than for me. If the work had been prepared for me, I presume Mark would have sent his work product to me following its preparation. I never heard from Mark again about his work product after our phone conversation, and I did not expect to hear from Mark since I had not engaged BLDD Architects and I was merely answering his questions as a courtesy when he called me.


Mark Ritz labeled his Option A and Option B footprints as “Expansion of Concept Requested by David Sholem”. That statement is clearly inaccurate.


During our telephone conversation which I described above, I suggested to Mark that Option B, as he subsequently labeled it, would involve the condemnation of many parcels of real estate which are unnecessary to the successful renovation and expansion of Central High School at its existing location.  I told Mark that only the McKinley YMCA real estate was essential to the redevelopment of the high school. I expressed my opposition to what has been labeled as Option B due to its extensive condemnation requirements.


With respect to Option A which I suggested was worthy of Unit 4 consideration, it should be labeled as “Concept Proposed by David Sholem and others with a Request for its Consideration by Unit 4”. I still hope Unit 4 will consider Option A and also consider the possible creation of an city-wide single high school at the Jefferson/Centennial campus since I believe they are both cost effective alternatives.


I hope this information is helpful. I suggest you confer with Mark Ritz to confirm the accuracy of my statements in this email. Thanks.


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