Council considers updating city technology

by Laura Bednar

November 14 city council meeting

Independence IT Director Jim Gibbs and Geo-centric Consulting President Richard Kotapish proposed a plan to implement Geographic Information System technology into city operations.

Kotapish said many assets in the city are not mapped or are unknown and the engineering, economic development, service and building departments could utilize GIS to track them.

Some examples for GIS usage in the engineering department include permit tracking, water runoff volume calculation and preliminary design engineering for stormwater and sanitary sewer projects.

Kotapish gave an example of using GIS to digitally manage Maple Shade cemetery: allowing residents to search for grave locations online and for the service department to keep records of cemetery maintenance.

Another possible implementation would be a GIS web application and map. The map would have more information than existing Cuyahoga County GIS maps, according to Gibbs. Kotapish said it would include parcels and public utility locations and show when repairs were last made to city utilities. Other uses would include tracking leaf collection and snow removal, and the map would show zoning specific to Independence.

“This is useful for businesses looking to relocate, or for residents,” said Kotapish.

The GIS system would act as a centralized data repository showing the condition of catch basins, culverts and internal zoning. “Some things are better kept in-house for security purposes,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs reiterated that the plan is only a set of recommendations. Council will discuss the idea further before making any decisions.

Council approved the purchase and installation of surveying software for the city’s sewer truck for $39,311. Gibbs explained that through the GraniteNet software platform, photos and inventory of sewer maintenance will automatically sync to the city’s network and staff can view the information on a computer. Previously, the information was saved to a USB, which had to be transferred to the appropriate person.

After initial setup, the software will cost $1,363 annually. A rugged laptop unique to the sewer truck’s setup worth $65,000 will be used. Gibbs said the high cost of the laptop is because of its durability and the fact it eliminates the need for manpower. The laptop should last for at least three years, though Gibbs said the hope is for five years.

Police station evaluation

Independence hired engineering and construction management firm Prime AE Group of America for $29,500 to review the police station and service complex to make architectural and site-related recommendations.

“It was determined that our operations could best be analyzed and should be analyzed to determine space needs and looking to the future,” said Mayor Greg Kurtz.

Dana Mitchell, senior vice president of Prime, said the company previously evaluated police stations, fire stations, service garages and other municipal buildings.

“The study is intended to cover both the new and the renovations, so once we do the programming, we’ll then overlay that programming overtop the existing building to see if it fits with the addition,” he said, adding that the company would price out all of the options.

Kurtz said the evaluation would include a potential emergency ingress to I-77 N. According to Mitchell, the process would take two to three months.

Park upgrades

Council approved paying Amusement Restoration Companies $35,640 to repair and resurface the interior and exterior of the Elmwood Park waterslide. The slide was built in 2000 and according to Recreation Director Tom Walchanowicz, no work has been done on the slide since 2010. In addition to giving the slide a gel coating on the interior and a urethane coating on the exterior, the company will also perform a safety inspection of the slide. The cost is covered in the city’s capital plan.

The recreation department will purchase $74,451 worth of new playground equipment for the Annex Playground in Elmwood Park. Walchanowicz said existing equipment dates from the 1980s and is not salvageable. Sidewalks will be built from the playground to the parking lot. Walchanowicz said the hope is to have the playground ready by the end of April. ∞