by Sue Serdinak
May 17 village council meeting
Construction personnel and their vehicles will be part of the Richfield Historic District scenery for most of the summer.
In early June, the Heinle building will be razed, the first sign that activities have started. Shortly afterward, construction on the Grant Street extension and a municipal parking lot will begin. No timeline has been given for the construction of the Richfield Brewing Company on the corner of Broadview Road and Grant Street.
Construction of a water line in the district is expected to begin in mid July. Village officials are planning to conduct a public meeting to explain details of the line, tap-in costs and procedures for property owners who will have access to the utility.
The water line will be installed on Route 303 and Broadview Road. It will be an extension of the line that ends at the Town Hall and will run west as far as Eastwood Preserve. It will run along Broadview Road between Richfield Woods and Grant Street.
The annual Richfield Community Day, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 14, and the community weekend parade on Friday, Aug. 12, will be impacted by the construction. Modified plans may be considered as the time draws closer.
Ohio Department of Transportation’s repaving of Route 303 has been pushed back to October so that new paving won’t be torn up for the waterline construction. Nine village streets will also be repaved this summer.
Income tax refunds
Richfield Village is on the negative side regarding income tax refunds paid for employees who are working from home rather than from their Richfield offices. Finance Director Sandy Turk reported that through mid-May, the village has paid $360,186 in refunds. The village has received $280,905 in refund payments for Richfield residents who worked from home rather than from offices in other communities. Turk said $255,000 of the money received was a one-time payment and not expected to be paid in future years.
Turk also reported that $37,749 had to be paid for repairs to two fire engines and other fire equipment.
The Senior Center is purchasing a new stove for about $15,000.
Council passed legislation to modify the zoning code regarding fences, walls and hedges. Front and front side fences, walls, columns and hedges on the sides of front yards cannot be more than three feet high.
Fences, walls, columns and hedges that are landscape features parallel to the road can be up to six feet and columns and access gates on either side of a driveway can be up to eight feet tall. Rear and rear side fences can be up to six feet.
All lighting must be shielded and located in such a manner as to not intrude on a public road or nearby properties. Lighting should be compliant with the International Dark-Sky Association.
Council approved an agreement with MetLife for dental insurance for full-time village employees. The cost is $47,568 for 67 employees, 3% more than the expiring contract. The village pays 100% of the cost with no employee participation.
In other business, Mayor Michael Wheeler announced the appointment of William Mahalik to the cemetery board.
Wheeler also announced that Winar Connection is donating 40 trees to the village in recognition of its 40 years in business. The company is located on Timberline Drive.
Councilperson Ralph Waszak thanked Executive Assistant to the Mayor Laura Toth for her work in setting up the Tree City Ohio event. About 300 people are expected to attend the outdoor event at Town Hall.
Shared recreation director
Resident Julie Wenger spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting opposing the proposed plan for the village and the Richfield Joint Recreation District to share a recreation director.
“This would be organizationally dysfunctional and wouldn’t serve either entity very well,” Wenger said, citing dissimilar job descriptions, skill sets, goals and facilities.
“The RJRD is a direct competitor to the village for park facilities,” she said, adding that taxpayers fund both entities. “Co-mingling of finances between the village and the RJRD isn’t in anyone’s best interest.”
Wenger also cited a lack of neutrality between the joint district and the village.
“I don’t see objectivity,” Wenger continued, citing that the RJRD board chair, who was appointed by village council, brought to her board the idea to share the position.
Wenger said the shared recreation director would report to the village mayor, and the spouse of the mayor is the administrative coordinator for the joint district. In addition, an RJRD board member owns a floral business that promotes wedding events in the park district. Neither the mayor nor council members responded to Wenger’s comments. ∞