Council approves athletic facility in planned commerce district
by Sue Serdinak
April 4 village council meeting
The executive offices and warehouse of the former Staples building on Highlander Parkway was closed in 2021, another example of the business and workplace shift occurring in the country. The vacant building and parking area occupy over four acres in Richfield Village’s Planned Commerce District.
The closure took away income tax dollars paid to the village by company employees. Finance Director Sandy Turk has been watching the shifting of taxes paid to the village, which operates mostly from income tax money. She is not permitted to disclose how much income tax revenue the village receives from a given company.
Sculpt Fitness, a personal training gym with facilities in Bath and Cleveland, wants to operate a fitness center in the building. In addition to offering fitness training, the building would be available for regional basketball and volleyball tournaments on weekends.
The planning and zoning commission approved that use for the building, and council had the opportunity to review the case.
Mayor Michael Wheeler said he agreed with the use because it would eliminate the vacancy in one building. “A vacant building provides no income tax,” he said.
Councilperson Bobbie Beshara opposed the use, saying it is not compatible with the zoning for the district. She said tournaments could draw many people to the community, and the jobs would be low paying, providing less income tax.
Councilperson Rick Hudak said that bringing people into the community could help smaller businesses, and it is a way of advertising the assets of Richfield.
Council approved the zoning commission’s recommendation to allow Sculpt Fitness to operate in the facility. Beshara voted against allowing the permit to be issued without further review by council.
Unlawful truck parking
Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz reported that trucks parking on the north end of town are generating many complaints from residents. He said truckers are paying to park their rigs on private property, but truck parking is not permitted in these areas.
“Generally the north end of town is becoming saturated with truck parking,’’ he said. “The mayor’s office and the police are getting many calls about this. We will need to make some code changes, and then we would ask the police to enforce the laws.’’
The planning and zoning department has recently enforced the exterior maintenance code, requiring that some advertising signs be removed and issuing two work stoppage notices for projects started without permits.
Tennis, pickleball courts
Wheeler said that Richfield has become a member of the U.S. Tennis Association, which has offered to help design and position pickleball and tennis courts in the village. He said the organization recommended building 8-12 pickleball courts and 2 tennis courts. The mayor said he and the park board want the courts to be built south and east of Town Hall.
Councilmembers recommended limiting the number to eight pickleball courts and two tennis courts. Park Director John Piepsny and members of council agreed that the courts would require significantly more parking spaces than are available around Town Hall.
“If you go with less than eight [pickleball courts] it won’t work,” Wheeler said, emphasizing that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country.
Councilmember Jeff Stoppenhagen reminded council that the shortage of parking at Town Hall would affect members of the community who won’t be using the courts.
Wheeler said the U.S. Tennis Association has offered to provide a schematic of the best location for the courts, and he promised to present that at the next council meeting.
Car seat installation
Police Chief Michael Swanson reported that officers Bart Randolph and Jake Totten are now certified technicians and can educate caregivers on the proper use of car and booster seats, set belts and vehicle safety systems. Call the police department at 330-659-9500 to request help from the officers.
Fire medic hired
Council approved hiring Zachary Tisdale as a part-time fire medic, and Wheeler swore him in. Tisdale is enrolled in the UH Parma paramedic program. He finished his EMT training at Columbus State Community College and his fire fighter 1 and 2 training at Cuyahoga Community College.
Fire Chief George Seifert reported he received 36 applications for two full-time fire medic positions.
He also said a female locker room has been created in the dormitory for the first time.
A fire truck was damaged in a recent storm when a tree fell on the windshield. Seifert warned the public to stay far away from fallen wires. He said a radius surrounds live wires, within which someone can be electrocuted. ∞
R06 Tisdale .5C
R12 Cam building