by Sue Serdinak
April 19 village council meeting
Shortly after the meeting opened, council went into executive session to discuss business information associated with economic development. When the meeting reconvened, legislation was introduced and passed, with second and third readings suspended, to approve an income tax job-creation grant to Agrana Fruit US Inc.
According to the legislation, the company will “relocate its business operations and existing employees to Richfield to create employment opportunities … in Richfield, provided that the appropriate development incentives are available to support the economic viability of the project.”
The project is predicted to have an annual payroll of $9.3 million. The company would be afforded a 15% rebate of income tax collected for ten years.
Carl Bock, CEO of Agrana, explained that the company has four locations in the United States, including a facility in Brecksville, which is too small.
“We looked far and wide around the country for a new site,” Bock said, adding that the heritage that fruit once grew on the property [as Babb’s Apple Orchard] added to the appeal. He said they plan to construct a 35,000-square-foot research and development facility on the property.
According to the company’s website, the company offers “innovative solutions for the dairy, ice cream, and bakery markets” and has plants in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Steve Lisowski was recognized with a proclamation following his retirement after working for the village for 41 years. A Richfield native and Revere graduate, Lisowski started working for the village in 1981 and has served as the road supervisor for several years.
“It has been a pleasure and honor to work for the citizens of Richfield,” he said, adding that he missed the road department’s activity that morning. Lisowski was referring to long traffic tie-ups on Brecksville and W. Streetsboro roads, following several inches of wet snow falling overnight.
Interim Recreation Director Laura Toth reported that registration for the village’s summer camp recently was opened and already some of the classes are half full.
Police Chief Michael Swanson reported that 45 units of blood were collected at the recent blood drive sponsored by the department. The next blood drive will be held on May 31.
Councilperson Sue Ann Philippbar pointed out to council that the legislation that was passed to proceed with the plan to extend Grant Street, construct a new library drive entrance and create public parking in the historic district could not be enacted immediately because it passed with only four votes. Councilperson Rick Hudak voted against the legislation, Pat Norris abstained and Councilperson Ralph Waszak was absent. The legislation required five votes to go into effect immediately.
“My concerns are that we are not going to be able to go out for bid for at least another month. The delay might cost the village some money. As a group we should reconsider that motion.”
With the guidance of the law director, council rescinded the earlier vote and revoted. The vote was 5-1 with only Councilperson Rick Hudak opposing. Councilperson Ralph Waszak was on vacation.
“This will speed up our ability to accept bids,” explained Norris.
“I think this is a misappropriation of spending public money. I think this is a horrendous waste of public money,” Hudak said. ∞