Aurora plans sewage treatment, traffic signal upgrades in 2021

Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate
Aurora, Ohio

AURORA — The city’s 2021 budget includes capital improvement projects and equipment worth about $17.7 million, with the major projects being central wastewater treatment plant improvements and a citywide traffic signalization upgrade.

The treatment plant project will cost about $9 million. It is being carried over from 2020, and includes $5.5 million from the Ohio Public Works Commission.

The signalization project is estimated to cost about $3.16 million, with $633,440 from the city and the remainder through the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study. Some decorative poles are reflected in the city’s share.

“Improving and modernizing infrastructure has been a focus of mine,” said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin when she unveiled the 2021 budget to City Council on Dec. 14. “I appreciate council’s support on our many significant projects.”

The mayor noted in 2020 the city replaced the fourth and last major 1920s era water line — on East Pioneer Trail — and each of the lines were done without borrowing funds. The remaining smaller, older water lines will be done in the next few years.

“No water lines will be replaced in 2021,” she said. “We will save the Maple Lane and related lines for another year.”

In addition to the sewage plant and traffic signal upgrades, the city will move ahead with stormwater mitigation projects, with about $850,000 budgeted, $250,000 of that in the Geauga Lake neighborhood.

“We intend to continue with Geauga Lake ditching, and are pursuing a grant to help purchase the most flood-prone homes in Geauga Lake,” the mayor said. “Another $225,000 has been allocated to assist residents in the Sweet Grass area of Hawthorn while we await results of a study of sanitary and stormwater issues.”

Another $125,000 will go toward East Pioneer Trail and Page Road culverts. “But perhaps most significant is a citywide stormwater model and plan we expect to have developed for $250,000,” she said.

“We also just rejected bids for the Lena Drive-Route 43 sewer force main project, estimated at about $440,000, so those funds will be carried over and the project will be re-bid next year,” the mayor said.

The annual road paving program is budgeted at $1.62 million. The mayor explained the road levy generates about $554,000 annually, and the remainder will come from 2020 year-end general fund capital transfers.

The mayor said $1.05 million was spent on paving in 2020, including the parking lot at the Hartman athletic facility on Townline Road, “and the paving was completed in record time.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic curtailed some parks/rec activities in 2020, the mayor said the Hartman athletic fields and cross-country track are being enjoyed by many.

In 2021, she said the city will improve the tree arboretum at Hartman, including signage ($32,262), plus make foundation and exterior upgrades to the Spring Hill Farm barn on East Pioneer Trail ($90,000).

The city also has budgeted $50,000 for maintenance, benches and landscaping and a grant match potential of $75,000 for bathroom and other upgrades at Kiwanis Moore Playground, near where a splash pad is being built.

And it has budgeted $140,000 for a Picnic Lake Park trail from Geauga Lake to Aurora Shores, plus payments on 91 acres of city-owned property on East Mennonite ($160,000) and 21 acres on East Garfield ($30,250), which are future connectors to existing parks.

“As we sell off a few lots on East Mennonite, it’s our intention to reinvest those funds toward additional land purchases to preserve green space,” the mayor said.

Womer Benjamin added the city has set aside $70,000 to design a new recreation office building and move operations from the Margaret Harmon house on Page Road. In addition, $53,500 is targeted for drive-in concerts, an enhanced winter event and July 4 fireworks.

Sidewalk upgrades will continue in 2021 and new lighting in the Route 306 historic district is planned, with $300,000 budgeted. “The East Pioneer Trail [sidewalk] extension to New Hudson Road has been completed, and we have installed more than 2 miles of sidewalks during my seven-year tenure,” the mayor said.

Delayed from 2020, a carport will be built at the police station in 2021 for $295,000, and the fire department will get a new rescue squad for $240,000 and a new aerial ladder truck. The amount to be paid for the latter in 2021 is $408,452.

A Green Initiative will start in 2021 with an annual donation of about $23,000 under the electric aggregation program, while the city will provide $10,000 to the police department for social service resources.

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