Aurora to acquire land to connect park properties

KEN LAHMERS
Correspondent
About 21 acres off E. Garfield Road would connect city owned parkland. The city's purchase would cost about $185,000.

AURORA – The city’s preserved parkland will grow by 20.93 acres after Council approved purchasing a parcel south of East Garfield Road and west of Townline Road from Carl and Claire Burke Draucker.

The parcel is situated between Route 82 and the abandoned Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. On the south, it abuts the Aububon Society’s Aurora Sanctuary. North of Route 82, it connects with a 5.03-acre city-owned sliver of land leading to the city-owned Hartman Farm property.

The parcel is surrounded by residentially-zoned property and houses no structures. It currently is being partially farmed, and city ownership means some wetlands and trees will be preserved.

According to city officials, the property could be used as a passive park and greenway area, with potential for a walking trail that completes connection between other city properties, including Hartman Farm, Paddock River Preserve and Sunny Lake Park.

The purchase price is $170,000, plus an additional $15,000 for closing and other costs. The money will come from the city’s general fund. Council OK’d the transaction at its July 20 meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS

Council approved the city’s 2021 tax budget after no residents spoke at a public hearing. The tax budget is a tool used by the Portage County Budget Commission to determine the amount of funding a local government receives from property taxes and local government funding.

The city expects to receive $16.74 million in local taxes in 2021, with $14.76 million expected to come from municipal income tax, $1.57 million from general property tax and $410,000 from other local taxes.

Three ordinances were passed on their third readings – final plats for Renaissance Park at Geauga Lake in the mixed-use zoning district and Hawthorn of Aurora Phase 6 in a planned development district, and a revised development plan for Hawthorn of Aurora.

Burgess & Niple engineers were awarded contracts for easement acquisition for the Route 43-Lena Drive water main project ($2,800) and design work for the next phase of Walden water main replacements ($49,900).

The next phase of Walden replacements involve Walden, Ridgeway and Chandler drives and Chandler Lane. Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said the actual project would not commence for possibly a year or two.

Council also awarded a contract to RKS Management (not to exceed $40,000) for additional disinfecting and cleaning services at city buildings as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. That is in addition to its annual cleaning contract of $46,630.

The mayor was given authority to accept an Ohio Schools Threat Assessment Training grant worth $1,000. School resource officers Michelle Ice and James Clague will receive a one-time payment of $500 each.

A resolution to accept coronavirus relief funds under the CARES Act was adopted. Finance Director Tim Clymer said the city expects to receive a little more than $200,000 for coronavirus-related expenses.

Council approved the donation of three Clorox electrostatic sprayer cleaning machines to the Aurora school district to help the schools combat coronavirus, hired Scott Habel and Noah Wilson as part-time firefighters/paramedics and accepted a fact-finding report related to the police dispatchers collective bargaining agreement.

Clymer reported income tax revenue is down about $800,000 this year because of unemployment brought on by COVID-19. Womer Benjamin reported document shred day was a huge success, with some residents having to be turned away because of the huge volume.

Ohio Senate District 18 Democratic candidate Betsy Raider talked about her background. A Russell Township resident, she is running against Jerry Cirino and lost to David Joyce in the U.S. House District 14 election in 2018.

After Councilman Jim Vaca brought up safety concerns at the Routes 43 and 82 intersection, Assistant Service Director David Frisbee said the service department plans to add signage there. Vaca said southbound motorists on Route 43 are confused about which lane they should be in to turn right or go straight through.

Answering an inquiry from Councilwoman Reva Barner, Frisbee said the EPA has mandated annual checks of residents’ irrigation systems to make sure no effluent runs into the city’s groundwater system. Barner said some of her Ward 3 constituents have complained about annual charges for the checks.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9433, or auroraadvocate@recordpub.com