Officers sworn in; Economic development agreement approved

by Sue Serdinak

Oct. 18 village council meeting

Richfield Village Council began its meeting with the swearing in of two police officers, Brett Lee and K9 Nori.

Lee has been working part time for the village, but a full-time position became available when officer Morgan Miller became part time. With handler officer Jake Totten holding his toy bone, K9 Nori stood still while Mayor Michael Wheeler swore him in. Nori put his paw on a piece of paper when commanded to do so.

Tax incentive

Legislation was introduced to enter into two agreements with the James B. Oswald Company for a tax incentive and improvement grant. The legislation passed after second and third readings were suspended.

The insurance company plans to move its headquarters to the Cisco building, owned by CAM, on Highlander Parkway. According to the agreement, for 10 years the village will pay the company 15% of the income tax revenue paid to the village by the company’s full-time employees.

According to the improvement grant, the village will make a one-time payment of $60,000 to the company for improvements to the building.

The company will receive tax revenue from the village as long as the company employs a minimum of 20 full-time people, with a minimum annual payroll of $3 million at the Richfield office.

Council members Ralph Waszak and Rick Hudak said council had been discussing the agreement for several months in executive session.

Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz said companies asked that legislation not be presented to the public before the meeting in which it is passed because the information is confidential.

“This is a great opportunity for the village and is another example of a public/private partnership,” Frantz said.

“This is part of our goal of achieving zero vacancies in the village,” said Wheeler.

Road closures

The good news was that Brecksville Road will soon re-open at the I-77 bridge north of Townsend Road, but Summit County plans to close the road for 150 days starting in May 2024 for bridge/culvert repair.

Service Director Scott Waldemarson reported that he is ready to advertise for bids to re-side Fellowship Hall. The bids would include window replacements.

Council members Bobbie Beshara and Waszak requested that formal legislation be presented before the project is bid, because the project will have an estimated cost of over $500,000. Hudak said the vote to spend the money could happen after the bids are received. Legislation will be prepared for the next meeting.

Water meters for sewer

An ordinance was introduced to require all properties that discharge into the village’s sanitary sewer system to install meters to measure water usage. This would apply even to properties that have well water rather than Cleveland city water.

Hudak said these meters often get clogged when connected to well water because of minerals in the water. Waldemarson said he is aware of this happening only once.

Sue Ann Philippbar said the cost to property owners would include the meter and installation.

Waszak, who introduced the legislation, said there should be more discussion and perhaps modify the legislation.

Wheatley Road

Frantz showed council a map of possible lane changes and traffic signals on Wheatley Road. He said accessing McDonald’s and the TrueNorth gas station is confusing for drivers, and employees of Nexen find it dangerous to cross the road.

He said the traffic engineer from GPD has recommended three traffic lights and lane modifications. The lights could be installed by April 1, 2024.


The next council meeting will be Nov. 8, rather than Nov. 7, because the village charter states that meetings cannot be held on an election day.

Hudak explained his absence from five council meetings this year, saying he missed one meeting to accompany a friend on a cancer treatment. He said he was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, during one meeting, and because of back surgery delayed the trip home. He added that it is difficult to sit through council meetings for more than one hour.

Comments from the floor

Corey Ringle, president of the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve, said that the terms of two members of the Richfield Joint Recreation District board expire at the end of 2023. Council will be asked to re-appoint Anita Gantner to the board or appoint a new person.

Ringle said there was a recommendation by the Association of Nature Center Administrators in 2019 to bring new members onto the RJRD board. According to the ANCA report, “A well run board embraces a constantly changing composition of the board and they encourage new people to become involved and to bring in new energy and ideas. …”

Ringle said that Gantner suggested that Ringle consider stepping down as president of Friends, but Ringle said the Friends have made several other board changes during her tenure as president.

After the meeting, Philippbar said the village is responsible for appointing a member to the RJRD board and cannot be involved in other management decisions of the park district. ∞

Officer Brett Lee is sworn in as a full-time police officer. Photos by S. Serdinak

K9 Nori is also sworn in by Mayor Wheeler as his handler, Officer Jake Totten, watches.