Planners OK CVCA expansion

Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's plans to build a $6.6 million two-story addition and make improvements to its campus on Wyoga Lake Road were approved by the city's Planning Commission Feb. 1.
CVCA is looking to expand its existing building footprint to address space and curriculum needs. With an enrollment growth rate that has exceeded 25 percent in the last seven years, CVCA is having to deal with a "space crunch," according to the school. This school year, 857 students are enrolled at CVCA, a non-denominational Christian junior and senior high school.

The building addition, which will be to the rear of the existing building, will provide eight new classrooms; a large, multi-purpose room primarily designated for fine arts; four academic department rooms/offices; four new locker rooms; a weight room; and a wrestling room. The project also includes paving a rear, gravel parking lot; installing lights in the parking lot and on the new addition; and building a loop drive, also in the rear of the building.

"The proposed plan meets the overall character of the Northampton Planning Area," said city Planning Director Fred Guerra. "The general goal in Northampton is to keep it as rural as possible." Guerra added that CVCA is located in an area of Northampton where the city would like to see growth: along Wyoga Lake Road and State Road.

The addition will be 34,561 square feet, with 28,827 square feet on the first floor and 5,734 on the second floor. CVCA's existing building was built in 1970 and is 112,225 square feet, with 103,671 square feet on the first floor and 8,554 square feet on the second floor.

Guerra said the project's proposed dry detention basin needs to be smaller and include wetland vegetation for a more natural look. Dwayne Wilson of Braun & Steidl Architects, the agent for the project, said it has to be large enough to accommodate even further expansion down the road.

This addition is the first of a three-phase building project that will take place over the next 10 years, Wilson said. "There will be a new field house addition and a new commons/classroom addition," he said.

A dry detention basin is the only option, according to Paul Schmoll, a civil engineer for CVCA, because there is too much clay in the soil for an infiltration system. Schmoll said he believed the water table would be too low to sustain wetland plants.

"Our desire is to make this look as pleasing as we can and not be an eyesore," said Jim Gaul, chief financial officer for CVCA. Gaul said the school would be willing to plant vegetation. Guerra said he would work with project designers to see that the area is landscaped properly and "looks good."

More than an issue of space

Although space is at a premium, the primary motivation for expansion is a "new vision to impact students at a deeper level," according to a press release from the school. The proposed addition will not only allow more room for traditional academic programs, it will also provide space for the school's new vision programs: J-term, Connections and Schools of Distinction.

"The building expansion is just one part of the vision," said CVCA President Dr. Roger Taylor. "Physical plant is ultimately just a 'tool' where talented teachers and innovative programs come together to accomplish our mission."

Schools of Distinction are four "schools within the school" -- engineering, business and entrepreneurship, ministry, and medical professions. Connections is made up of small groups of students (same gender and grade) that meet weekly to discuss issues that challenge today's teens. J-term (January term) gives students the opportunity to take non-traditional courses on campus in smaller classes.

The expansion, the largest capital project in the 42-year history of CVCA, will be funded through donations to the Tools for Transforming Tomorrow Vision Campaign.

Construction is planned to begin in late spring, subject to meeting fundraising goals, and be completed by July 2012.
Valley Christian Academy
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