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‘New Lakefront’ presented to Columbiana school board

COLUMBIANA–After pitching his plan for “The New Lakefront” to the community for the past few months, Rob Struharik of Master Plan Builders spoke to the school board this week about how beneficial a partnership would be.

“The school district in general is very important for the economics of the town,” Struharik said. “Without the school and the success of the school, it probably wouldn’t be a place we would want to invest our business in.”

In October, the school board gave Struharik a vote of confidence and wanted him to move forward in the process with its support. Struharik dug deeper into the analytics and market research and presented to the board why the school system is so crucial in the project. The data is based on statistical information and assumptions in the numbers are based on the school’s five-year fiscal forecast.

In the past 15 years, Master Plan has built 127 homes in Columbiana, including 23 homes this year with the Community Reinvestment Area program (CRA). Out of the 127 homes built, there are roughly 19 total school-age children who are either attending Columbiana schools or are in other districts on open enrollment.

Struharik estimates over $17,000 of income per pupil from the homes they would build. Master Plan homes are typically geared toward higher income families or individuals, so he believes they can accumulate enough income with their homes to provide funds for the school system.

“We want to succeed, we want to see the school succeed but more importantly we want Columbiana to succeed,” Struharik said. “If we focus on looking out for each other we can succeed as a whole.”

Struharik admitted that the CRA can be be looked at in a negative light by school systems, but with proper oversight and partnerships it could be an avenue to progress for the school system.

As well as updating the board, Struharik also offered a promise. If through the process it ever becomes a disadvantage to the school system, the CRA and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) zone would be null and void so the taxes would go directly to the school system.

“We are so confident that we’ve built a model to help the school system that we’re willing to make this promise,” Struharik said. “We’re the ones signing up for it.”

Board member Scott Caron said that it would go a long way to have an actual agreement laid out.

“I think a written agreement would be a vote of confidence for us to see,” Caron said. “It’s awesome for a developer to have such confidence, and we need that confidence in writing, too.”

Struharik said that he is open to any recommendations to add to the agreement.

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