Mayfield Heights ‘comfortable’ that work can begin on new community center / swimming pool

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio – Inflation, high gas prices and war overseas cause constant daily change. With this in mind, City Council and administration, in a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, March 14, discussed various aspects of advancing plans for a new community center, municipal swimming pool and a service department storage area planned for the south side of Marsol Road.

As plans progressed, the cost of the project rose to $26 million, up from the original projection of $17 million early last year.

Inflation and shipping delays are of concern to council members as the city plans to begin demolition of the current Ross C. DeJohn Community Center building at 6306 Marsol Road to make way for new construction.

Due to national and global circumstances, Councilman Donald Manno, who expressed support for the project, urged the city to take its time moving forward with construction, citing the cost of the project.

In response to a question from Manno about whether the administration is comfortable moving forward with the plans, Mayor Anthony DiCicco said he posed that question to Chief Financial Officer Karen Fegan.

“We asked this question, ‘Are you comfortable with this?’, and she (Fegan) is comfortable moving forward,” DiCicco said.

“And, also, we made a promise to the residents when we presented number 9 and they voted for it. We promised to build a new swimming pool and install a new community center, and to improve our park. I so think those are reasons why we owe it to the residents to keep our promises there.

In March 2020, voters approved Number 9, a 0.5% income tax hike, with the city promising to spend the roughly $5 million annually generated by the crossing on new sidewalks and road repairs, as well as recreational improvements, including a new swimming pool. .

As of now, the goal is to open the new pool by summer 2023.

“We’re looking to spend a lot of money,” Manno said. “What if you can’t deliver a year (opening in 2023) to satisfy residents – yes, they passed this tax – (but) do they know that only (40%) of this money is going to parks and recreation? They don’t know it.

“You make it seem like it was all based on ‘You pass this, and we’ll give you that. That’s not how it works, and we all know it.

“We have to think about what we’re about to spend,” he said, “and whether or not it’s sustainable for this city.”

Manno said that a few years ago, when it came to the city’s purchase of the Mayland Mall for $25 million, “everyone was afraid of blaming the city for this kind of silver”. Mayland is now being redeveloped by local developer Larry Ottono.

“It’s something that needs to be well thought out and be damn worried about finishing it in a year because that’s what you promised the residents,” Manno said.

“All I ask is to think about it. Pause and think about it. Don’t run before you walk, that’s all.

Fegan told the board that the architect and planners were originally very conscious of sticking to the $17 million budget. Over time, however, Fegan said the administration and planners had told the council, “If we stick to this budget, we’ll be there on opening day and it won’t be what everyone world envisioned.

“So we knew we were going to have to increase that budget, because if we removed all those objects, it wouldn’t be the project we really wanted,” she said.

“So we have decided to put phase two on hold, to wait for this (phase one – the community center, pool and after-sales service space) to be completed. We’re going to re-examine the finances, we’re going to re-examine what’s going on in the world right now (and) what’s going on with income tax (recoveries).

The second phase, on the north side of Marsol Road in City Park, will involve a new rectangular artificial turf space, extending north to the site of the current Dragga Pool, which will allow for a combination of multiple baseball fields /soccer.

Plans also call for new indoor/outdoor bocce courts and a pavilion at City Park. Phase two won’t begin until some time after phase one ends.

“We’re okay with phase one,” Fegan said. “We have the money for that. We will borrow money as we have said from the start and pay it back over a long period of time. We have the revenue from number 9 which will give us the revenue stream that will allow us to do this. And I’m comfortable with that.

“Do I know exactly where the Number 9 money is going to go, or any income tax money? Nobody knows right now, but we’ll be comfortable with the money coming in,” Fegan said.

“We will be able to pay this debt. We’ll be okay with that.

How much income tax all communities will receive is uncertain because so many people have worked from home during the pandemic.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included parking and the tower/sliding board at the pool.

DiCicco said the new community center and pool would have enough parking spaces, as the new lot and parking lot on the north side of Marsol Road would total 287 spaces, plus the 151 at the current Dragga pool, totaling 438 spaces.

“We have plenty of parking spaces if you consider all of our spaces,” DiCicco said.

Residents have expressed some concerns about the height of the tower/slide due to its visibility. In addition to the 40-foot-tall slide, Councilor Nino Monaco noted that the top of the tower will actually reach 52 feet in height.

The tower will be about 80 feet from the nearest residential property, recreation director Sean Ward said. City code allows structures up to 35 feet in height, although the council may approve varying heights when approving final project plans.

Ward, at the meeting, informed council that on Thursday (March 17) tenders will be due for the demolition of the current community center.

At the March 28 council meeting, Ward will have prepared a brief for the design and development work, and at its April 11 meeting, for the steel and roofing work.

Sale at the community center

DiCicco said that prior to the demolition of the community center, there will be a sale at the City Hall Merchandise Center from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday (March 18). He said various items such as desks, chairs, speakers and kitchen equipment will be available and open for auction.

More information can be found on the the city website.

Fox & Hound storefront

Legal director Paul Murphy said he was contacted by a real estate agent looking to set up a Juicy Seafood restaurant in the former Fox & Hound storefront at Eastgate Shopping Centre.

The proposed new restaurant is seeking a liquor license and asked for council support if it could obtain one that now exists in another city in Ohio.

Council approved the motion of support by a vote of 4 to 3, with Manno, Monaco and Councilor Gayle Teresi opposing it.

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Jill E. Washington