TALLMADGE — While the mayor said he is "sad" that the Summit County Development Disabilities Board is leaving the city in the next two years, he noted officials now have a chance to figure out how to utilize the land at North Avenue [state Route 91] and Howe Road.

Mayor Dave Kline called Summit DD an "icon" in the city but also noted there are "new opportunities" for the city, county and Summit DD leaders to work together "to try to figure out how to repurpose that entire corner."

Cuyahoga Falls City Council on Monday approved an agreement with Summit DD to pay $1.675 million to purchase parcels next to the Summit DD building in Cuyahoga Falls to provide about 150 parking spaces for the 100 employees that will move there from the 129,300-square-foot building on Howe Road in Tallmadge. The Summit DD currently has about 260 employees in the Tallmadge building.

Summit DD Superintendent John Trunk said the goal is to move about 100 employees into the Cuyahoga Falls building and about 100 more workers into Summit DD’s Barberton building by mid-2021. The remaining workers are mobile and will be able to perform office work in either Cuyahoga Falls or Barberton, according to Trunk.

With this change, Summit DD will completely vacate the building in Tallmadge, according to Trunk.

From the early 1970s until the end of last year, Summit DD used three county-owned buildings in Tallmadge on Howe Road near North Avenue. Today, according to Trunk, the organization was only using the 129,300-square-foot building. Summit DD once had a 36,500-square-foot adult day center at the corner of Howe Road and North Avenue in Tallmadge, but the site has been vacant since the start of the year, according to Trunk. The third building was an 11,600-square-foot transportation center that was once used by Summit DD and is now being used by the county’s Department of Environmental Services.

Kline noted there is a baseball field on the Summit DD site that was used by the Little League Challenger organization that he would like the city to either "have ownership of" or be involved with the site in some way. Summit DD currently owns the field.

The mayor observed there are soccer fields the Summit County Fairgrounds, and Summit Metro Parks property in areas adjacent to the Summit DD buildings. Rita Weinberg, planning director/economic developer for the city of Tallmadge, said the area has "a lot of potential," and presents a "new challenge" for city leaders.

"I think that’s why we need to get together with the county, with Summit DD, and start thinking about a plan, [and] what makes sense," added Weinberg.

Summit DD currently has six buildings: three in Tallmadge, a 15,800-square-foot building at 2355 Second St. in Cuyahoga Falls, a 15,200-square-foot building in Barberton and a 28,600-square-foot structure in Bath that was closed in 2010-11. The employees who had worked in Bath were moved to the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton buildings.

Economic impact on Tallmadge

Cuyahoga Falls will have a five-year income tax revenue sharing agreement with the city of Tallmadge. In the first year the jobs move to Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge will split the income tax money 50-50. The percentage received by Tallmadge will then decline by 10 percent each year after that. That means Tallmadge will receive $63,516 in income tax money in Year One; $51,829 in Year Two; $39,649 in Year Three; $26,961 in Year Four; and $13,750 in Year Five.

Summit DD’s next steps

Now that the parking space issue has been addressed, Trunk said Summit DD officials can focus on re-designing the interior of the Cuyahoga Falls building to create more open space. Trunk said his organization will also look at its plans to redesign the interior of the Barberton site, which he noted already has enough parking space to accommodate the 100 or so employees who would move there.

He anticipates that the redesign of both the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton sites will be happening at approximately the same time.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.