MUNROE FALLS — The cleanup of the city’s now closed police firing range will start as soon as possible and is expected to be finished by the end of the year, according to the mayor.

City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved entering a $50,860 contract with Environmental Remediation Contractor (ERC) for the soil remediation project, which will involve cleaning up lead at the site.

Based on a recommendation from the Environmental Design Group, council agreed to add an $8,613 contingency (30% of the cost of the contract) to the deal, which means a total of $59,473 will be earmarked for the project. EDG recommended the contingency due to "the potential variation in the amount of soil excavation and disposal," according to a memo from EDG to the city. 

The city has permanently closed its firing range on Main Street. A moratorium on the use of the range was imposed in summer 2018 after the city and four other communities received notice from a Munroe Falls resident who threatened legal action against the municipalities that use the range.

In June 2018, officials in Munroe Falls, Cuyahoga Falls, Silver Lake, Stow and Tallmadge, and each entities’ police departments, received a letter notifying them that Thomas Shubert intended to file a lawsuit against them for alleged violations of state and federal environmental laws.

Shubert’s attorney, Andrew J. Karas of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, sent the letter to the various communities. Karas said that Shubert wanted the four cities and the village to stop using the range and to "conduct ... an environmentally sufficient assessment to gauge the nature and extent of the [alleged] contamination of the ground, of the groundwater, and of the adjacent [Cuyahoga] River, to gauge what sort of remediation is likely to be necessary."

Mayor James Armstrong said all five communities worked together on an "agreement to resolve the legal matter and sharing the related costs such as clean up, legal fees, and engineering."

When Munroe Falls City Council approved the city’s 2019 budget in December, that spending plan included $100,000 that was earmarked for any costs related to the firing range, according to Armstrong.

The mayor said the city has received money from the other communities to pay for cleanup costs and some other expenses related to the range. According to Finance Director Karen Reynolds, the amounts paid by the communities were: Cuyahoga Falls, $56,249; Stow, $23,189; Tallmadge, $8,058; and Silver Lake, $1,002.

Armstrong said the final cost of the cleanup will not be known until the project is finished.

"Fortunately the bids [we] received were less than the original engineer’s estimates," said Armstrong. "The original estimate for everything was around $180,000 and Munroe Falls’ share [would be] 50% … we were very pleased the bids came in lower than originally feared."

The mayor said if the project "comes in less than the original engineer’s estimates, we will be reimbursing the other cities based on their percentage of the anticipated costs."

The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department has opened a new firing range and training center at 3499 Wyoga Lake Road, behind the city’s Fire Station 5. Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis said that about 40 dates have been reserved in the facility for training sessions in 2020 and the site has been approved for academy training.

Council approves new signs for Circle K

Council on Tuesday also unanimously approved the installation of two new business signs at the current Circle K site at 85 S. Main St. The board of zoning appeals approved a variance for the project last month and the planning commission unanimously approved the signs at its October meeting.

The two new business signs encompass 128 square feet and will replace three smaller business signs at the site which now cover 24.75 square feet. The BZA approved a 103.25 square foot variance to allow installation of the larger signs.

Earlier this year, Circle K’s effort to build a new gas station/convenience store at the corner of Munroe Falls Avenue and Main Street was denied by the planning commission and city council then concurred with the commission’s non-recommendation.

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