Strategic Plan for Richfield Joint Recreation District approved
by Sue Serdinak
Jan. 23 RJRD meeting
Mike Selig, vice president of the Richfield Joint Recreation District board, conducted the meeting with President Anita Gantner’s help, as she lost her voice.
The park’s Strategic Plan was developed and debated for several months in 2022 and submitted for approval in December to allow the public an opportunity to read 800 pages in the appendix of the plan.
According to the document, the board is to follow four mission-driven priorities when making decisions about the park:
• High quality park amenities.
• Sustainable operations.
• Engagement of Richfield residents.
• Resource stewardship and education.
The plan recommends a “champion’’ program for buildings within the park. A champion would restore or renovate a structure for re-use. Champions could perform the work themselves or contract to have jobs done.
An individual or group would be required to file a letter of intent to be a champion and if approved, file a full application. The Strategic Plan lists the structures the board has determined qualify to be championed.
Before the plan was approved, Lynn Richardson, a member of Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve, said some documents were missing from the plan, including one from Clean Ohio, which said the park district was in compliance with the agency’s requirements imposed before it granted the park district a $200,000 grant.
“I urge you not to make this document official until it is vetted for accuracy,” Richardson said.
Office administrator Polly Wheeler added that the list of park structures was not complete.
Richfield resident and village councilperson Rick Hudak said that the resolution should be reintroduced before it is passed.
Board member Jeff DeLuca said that according to the resolution documents could be added to the plan later. The public did not have access to the resolution prior to or at the meeting.
The board approved the plan with new member Mike Lyons abstaining because he was not familiar with the document’s details.
Editor’s note: After the meeting the Richfield Times learned that the board’s legal counsel recommended that the legislation should have been reintroduced before passage.
Patrick Kalal, an Eagle Scout, made a presentation to the board asking for approval to construct an entrance sign to the park.
“This is beyond the normal Scout project,” commented Park Director John Piepsny.
Kalal said the sign would be made from wood from fallen park trees and rocks removed when cabins were razed. The project would include landscaping, and Kalal would be responsible for raising the money needed for the project.
Piepsny said information about the Lodge would be included on the sign, which must be approved by the Richfield Village Planning and Zoning Commission.
The board voted to approve moving forward with the sign.
John Piepsny also recommended changes to the board’s contract with event promoter Shari Green. He proposed that Green’s salary remain $1,000 per month, and additional commission be paid to her based on revenues collected. He recommended a commission of 10% for $50,000 in sales, 12.5% for $100,000, $15% for $150,000, and 20% for more than $150,000.
Piepsny said feedback from the board indicated members did not favor a higher base salary that he had recommended at an earlier meeting. He said he felt this contract would give extra motivation for Green to do more bookings. He added that Green wanted a two-year contract.
The board did not vote on the proposed contract but did extend Green’s 2022 contract for another month. Board members Dave Wehner and Lyons said clarification was needed on how and when the commission would be calculated. Wehner said an indemnification clause should be added to the contract.
The Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve are improving Amity House to make it rentable. Details of how rentals of the building would be managed have not been clarified.
The board approved Piepsny’s recommendation to purchase Rec Desk software to help with scheduling and enrollment for activities. He said the cloud-based annual subscription would cost $5,800 per year. He said Richfield Village uses the same software.
Piepsny said he is familiar with the software and the company, which will provide remote training. “They are a fantastic company to work with,” he said.
He said software is needed because he is scheduling many activities, such as hikes, paddling, a music festival and a goat derby and an outside company will run a summer camp.
He said Ohio Operating Engineers has agreed to enhance some of the trails and improve the parking lot.
Piepsny said if the budget permits, he wants to have new asphalt poured in front of the Lodge at an approximate cost of $36,000. He said for an additional cost of about $14,000 the entrance porch area could be enhanced.
He added that the park’s golf cart needs to be replaced. The estimated cost of a new cart is $15,000. He said renters of the Lodge could pay to have a cart transport guests. Park maintenance personnel would drive it.
In other official action, the board gave the Friends approval to install a freestanding sign to recognize major donors to the Kirby Mill restoration.
The board also approved an agreement with Roetzel & Andress, L.P.A. for professional legal services and the designation of attorney William Hanna as the RJRD legal counsel. The district will be billed $250 per hour for the first 48 hours in 2023, with additional hours $235 per hour for associate attorneys and $275 per hour for partners. Other needed legal services are covered in the contract.
Richfield Township Trustee Don Laubacher thanked Sandy Apidone for five years of service as a board member and her efforts to make the Lodge a rentable facility.
The Friends continue to do stabilization work on the North, Amity and Coach houses. The work includes installing new floor joists, replacing floors, replacing light fixtures, gutters and downspouts. All of the houses are listed as buildings that could be championed, according to the strategic plan.
The group also worked on invasive species, repaired two golf carts and cleaned latrines and emptied trashcans.
Judy Bowman reported that the Oviatt House group has completed several projects on the 1836 building, including uncovering the original siding and repairing and painting it. An electrical panel and a gas line have been installed.
She said OHI had a balance of $25,900 at the end of 2022, and volunteers worked 836 hours in the last quarter of the year.
Volunteer coordinator Susan Czaplicki is recruiting volunteers to monitor bluebird boxes in the park. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-317-2597. ∞