Friends group asks to revisit donor plaque request

by Dan Holland

July 25 Richfield Joint Recreation District board meeting

Details concerning the placement and appearance of a donor recognition plaque to honor those who contributed to the restoration of Kirby Mill at Richfield Heritage Preserve was a main topic of discussion at the meeting held in Richfield Village Council Chambers.

Board members Jeff DeLuca, Mike Selig and Mark Robeson, and administrative coordinator Polly Wheeler, all had excused absences from the meeting.

Lynn Richardson of Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve told the board that in 2018 the group asked to put a donor recognition plaque in the foyer of the Lodge, which was then named Gund Hall. The names of donors contributing $500 or more would be displayed on the plaque.

“It was approved in October 2018, but the meeting minutes were not approved until January 2019, and that piece was apparently missing,” explained Richardson, who asked the board to reaffirm a decision regarding the plaque location. “When our sponsorship packages went out saying that this was one of the things you would get for donating money, the plaque was on there.”

RJRD Chairperson Anita Gantner commented that the matter was approved by the governance committee at the time and referred to the board, but a record of board approval or denial could not be found in the meeting minutes.

“I certainly can’t account for what happened four years ago, and unfortunately, there’s no record of it,” said Gantner. “So, what we need to do is decide what we want to do going forward. I think donors, if they’re willing to be recognized, should be honored in some way. The question is the location.”

Board member Sandy Apidone asked if the plaque could be positioned at Kirby Mill rather than inside the Lodge.

“I do remember talking about it, and I was on the board back then, but that was before the Lodge became what it is today,” said Apidone. “Now, the time has gone on, it seems more logical for it to be down by the mill.”

Board member Dave Wehner asked Richardson whether a design rendering of the plaque with verbiage was available. She said it was not.

“I understand that you would want to review this, but what we’re dealing with is what we’ve been telling our donors for the past three-and-a-half years,” said Richardson.

“I wasn’t on this board in September 2018, and it’s not in the minutes,” replied Wehner. “I then need to make a decision today – and that’s a piece of the question I need to have to even arrive at a decision. Because for all intents and purposes, it didn’t happen.”

Apidone pointed out that the foyer wall, on which the plaque was to be displayed, does not exist in the Lodge at present.

Gantner suggested tabling the issue until the next meeting. The board voted 3-1 to table the matter with board member Maureen McGinty voting in opposition.

“We have a quorum here, and I don’t know what delaying the vote is going to do,” said McGinty prior to the vote. “We know that it’s not in the board minutes, and I don’t know what tabling it or delaying it is going to accomplish.”

Committee Reports

Gantner shared an Operations and Capital Improvements committee report from Jeff DeLuca that said there is an apparent leak in the lower lake dam as revealed by a wet spot in Kirby Mill, possibly due to the sealant that was applied to the concrete. She said NorthStar Construction and Gannett Fleming Engineers, who worked together on the recently completed dam restoration project, would provide an assessment and solution.

“It’s on Northstar to fix this,” said Gantner. “We have a retainer of 10 percent of the cost of the project, and when that is complete and it is all dry, then we will give them the balance of what is due on that project.”

Gantner shared Mike Selig’s Fundraising/Grant Writing Committee report stating they had submitted a grant request to Nature Works prior to the July 15 deadline. The funds would be used to replace the pedestrian bridge of the upper lake spillway. The project is under review by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Gantner said the requested amount of $75,000 was reduced to $61,000.

Under new business, the board passed:

  • Made appropriations for 2022 and approved a 2023 alternative tax budget.
  • Approved an agreement with Walter Haverfield LLP for professional legal services.
  • Approved allowing a wedding party to have inflatables in the park.

A proposal to contract with AquaDoc to treat an algae bloom at the lower lake at a cost of $3,700 was tabled until the next board meeting.

Treasurer’s Report

Wehner reported an RJRD bank balance at the end of June at $719,000; down from $884,000 in May. The decline was due mostly to payments to Northstar for lower lake dam work and Air Comfort Inc. for installation of an air conditioning system at the Lodge, he said.


Volunteer coordinator Susan Czaplicki reported that staff from local corporate groups painted the boathouse doors and sides of the maintenance garage, removed siding from Garfield Hall and cleaned the winter barn.

Park volunteers installed a bluebird box near Kirby Mill, constructed a fire circle at the Lodge, removed vegetation near the lower lake and cleaned up debris at Garfield Hall.

Corey Ringle, of Friends of RHP, said the group made repairs to a section of ceiling drywall at Coach House, copied blueprints of North House for a project involving gutters/downspouts on the structure and removed invasive plant species around the park.

She anticipates the restored mill wheel will be installed in late August pending the millwright’s schedule. They will participate in the second open house of the RHP on Sept. 13 and are sponsoring the One in a MILL-ion Celebration at the Lodge on Oct. 16.

Ringle also presented an idea of having the board increase insurance coverage on Kirby Mill to include full replacement value coverage, with the Friends group reimbursing the park district the cost difference in the premium. Gantner said the matter would have to go before the governance committee.

Judy Bowman of Oviatt House Inc. reported that volunteers completed the removal of all non-historic materials from the home including HVAC, plumbing, electric and drywall. Volunteers contributed 442 hours toward the renovations. They have determined the original floor plan of the second floor and original wall placement of the first floor.

The group contracted Homeland Building and Design to complete restoration of the original wood shingle roof and trim with a projected completion day by Sept. 1.


Gantner noted a community forum and open house to be held Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 6-8 p.m. at the Lodge to discuss issues relevant to the board’s strategic planning process. ∞