AURORA — Responding to Councilman Jim Vaca’s inquiry as to what’s going on with Geauga Lake property redevelopment, Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin told City Council that efforts are continuing to make the former amusement park land productive again.
"We are not just sitting back and doing nothing," Womer Benjamin told City Council on April 8. "Since we don’t own the land, we can’t control what goes on there, but we continue to work with Cedar Fair [the landowner] and the InSite Advisory Group on marketing options."
The mayor said there have been discussions recently about opportunities for the Aurora portion of the 650-acre property, "but I can’t talk about those at this point."
The mayor reminded Council that back in early 2017, the city negotiated with Bainbridge Township to form a Joint Economic Development District when the Meijer retail chain had sought to build on the Bainbridge portion of the property, but the JEDD never materialized.
"I think we worked out a reasonable plan to split income tax from Meijer and any other businesses that located on land," said the mayor, "and I thought we came up with a favorable agreement, but Bainbridge didn’t OK it and we haven’t heard from Bainbridge since May 2017."
Meijer eventually decided to scuttle its plans to locate on the property, and Womer Benjamin said, "No matter what happens with the JEDD or what Bainbridge decides to do about development on its portion of the land, it’s important to protect Aurora’s interest."
Both of the communities have approved mixed-use zoning, which could bring a mix of residential, commercial, office and public uses to the property.
Womer Benjamin said in recent months Aurora has negotiated with two businesses on Route 43 — north of the Geauga Lake property — to provide water and sewer service. Aurora also provides those utilities to other properties across the Bainbridge border.
"Before Meijer pulled out, we offered them the same services," she said. "We’d be willing to provide utilities to other businesses which might want to locate on the Geauga Lake land, but we’re not going to do it gratuitously."
Also at the Council session, Women Benjamin said she hopes the Route 43-Treat Road traffic signal project will be bid in June and be completed by the end of summer. "The city is working to obtain an easement from Anna Maria to locate poles for the traffic lights along the road," she explained.
She also noted the city is preparing for the installation of a stormwater control culvert under Chelmsford Drive, and some upgrades at the city-owned Margaret and Ray Harmon and Spring Hill Farm homes may be in store after her recent visit to them.
Womer Benjamin said upgrades at the Ray Harmon property must be made before the city can rent the house again. She said the Spring Hill house is beautiful inside, but has some exterior issues that must be addressed.
Meanwhile, Service Director Harry Stark told Council he expects the East Pioneer Trail widening at Route 43 to begin about June 1.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.