NORTHFIELD CENTER – In light of the Nov. 5 defeat of a tax levy to buy a vacant building to serve as the new Township Hall, trustees may assemble a committee to come up with recommendations for the future of township offices and the existing Township Hall.
Issue 3 was rejected 895 to 368, according to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections. The $1.4 million raised from the 0.47-mill, 30-year levy would have been used to purchase the former FirstMerit Bank building at 9447 Olde Eight Road to house township offices.
Trustees conducted a work session Nov. 14 to discuss the future of township offices and the 110-year-old Township Hall, which is plagued by many structural problems.
According to officials, those problems include water leakage and mold in the basement, cracks in the ceilings and walls, heating inefficiency and a troublesome sewer line running from the building to the street. The building also is not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
Trustees agreed residents seem to be divided over what to do about Township Hall. Options which have been discussed are renovating the old hall, tearing it down, building a new hall or acquiring another building to house offices.
"I am very disappointed that residents didn’t seem to consider this issue [the levy] important," said Trustee Paul Buescher. "Only 28 percent of registered voters turned out to cast ballots, and not many attended the three forums we hosted to explain our plans."
Trustee Russ Mazzola said he believes township officials need to further educate the public about the need for new or updated facilities.
Trustee Rich Reville suggested doing a structural analysis of the existing Township Hall – possibly by the Cleveland Restoration Society – to see what measures can be taken on a short-term and long-term basis to upgrade the building.
Township resident and building restoration expert Chris Kontur, who owns the former bank building and has provided advice to trustees about the Township Hall situation, said trustees are facing some tough choices. He said in the near future, they could lease space for offices temporarily and try to get another levy passed.
Buescher said no matter what the township decides, it will have to go back to voters for funding any purchase or restoration which requires more than a $50,000 expenditure. "Dealing with any large-scale project would require voter approval for the money," he said.
Kontur said minor upgrades to the existing building, which would cost less than $50,000, could be done, but that wouldn’t benefit the community in the long run. He added he would be willing to serve on a committee to study the Township Hall issue.
Officials have said a total restoration of the old hall could cost nearly $1 million.
Also at the Nov. 14 work session, trustees heard a presentation from Rick Patz, a member of the township’s stormwater management committee, about drainage issues in the Kitner Boulevard area.
He said the Summit County engineer’s office said two options for resolving the problems are the township joining the county’s stormwater management program or assessing property owners in the area.
Patz said an engineering study may be needed before deciding what action to take, and input from residents in the area should be sought. He added funding to fix the problems could come from the township, Macedonia, Joint Economic Development District, Ohio Department of Transportation and Summit County.
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