Solon Council votes to remove the sculpture from outside the community center

SOLON, Ohio — The city council has authorized the removal of a sculpture located outside the Solon Community Center for nearly 20 years because the surface of the natural stone surrounding it is fracturing and posing a safety concern. , according to Public Works Commissioner William Drsek.

On Monday (September 19), the council voted 6 to 1 to have the sculpture – created by artist Solon Charlotte Lees – removed. The sculpture was installed after the council accepted a proposal in 2003.

In a memo to the council’s safety and public properties committee, Drsek said the city’s public works division had called for legislation to be prepared to remove the sculpture and reconfigure the sidewalk into a 9-foot concrete walkway. feet wide.

The committee then recommended that the board comply with Drsek’s request.

Ward 2 Councilman Robert Pelunis cast the dissenting vote. Pelunis was a council member when the proposal to create and install the sculpture was approved in 2003. He said the cost to the city at the time was around $50,000.

Lees titled the sculpture – constructed of powder coated aluminum – Esprit de Corps. His hope at the time of its creation, according to his proposal, was that the sculpture would become a recognizable symbol for the city.

“At the time it was set up it was a bit controversial,” Pelunis said. “It was part of a public art plan that was favored by several council members at the time.

“Now we’re being asked to take it out and store it, and maybe we’ll move it somewhere else.”

Pelunis acknowledged that some of the natural stone – an epoxy-based flooring system – is “bad around the foundation” of the sculpture.

“I just think we spent all that money putting this in place, and the board at the time felt it was a good idea to put this in place,” he said.

“But taking that and putting it in storage just doesn’t make much sense, because we spent the city’s money on that, and I think we could just keep it there, because that’s what that the intention of the board was at the time. .”

Ward 7 Councilman Bill Russo, who chairs the safety and public property committee, said the city plans to reposition the sculpture as part of its master plan, which is being updated.

“We will find a home for (the sculpture),” he said. “It’s a structure where people can sit and chat, and no one is going to sit in front of this sculpture in the middle of this walkway.”

Russo said Rich Parker, the city’s director of recreation, is “definitely supportive” of repositioning the sculpture in Solon Community Park.

“But again, once we have the park design, we’ll find another home for it,” he said.

In his memo to the committee, Drsek said it would be more cost effective to remove the sculpture and replace the “irregularly shaped sidewalk” than to pour new concrete to reflect the original shape and maintain the sculpture.

Drsek said a contractor, Scott’s Services of Aurora, submitted two quotes to replace the existing walkway in front of the community center.

After reviewing the quotes, Drsek determined that it would cost $2,100 less to remove the sculpture and install a 9-foot-wide sidewalk.

The quotes were $6,500 to pour new concrete to reflect the original design and form versus $4,400 to remove the artwork and pour new concrete.

Drsek also called for the legislation to be passed as a matter of urgency in order to complete the project during this construction season.

Donation for the rails-to-trails program

In another action, the council authorized Mayor Ed Kraus to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and accept a donation of $24,556 from the Behm family to be used to support the rails-to-trails program. -city trails.

Through the MOA, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works with communities to preserve unused rail corridors by turning them into rail tracks across the United States — will go through the funds receipts from the donation to the City of Solon.

The city will use the funds specifically to support the development of the Solon Trail in Chagrin Falls, Ward 4 Councilman Mike Kan said.

Kan explained that the family of Kevin Behm, a Solon resident who was killed in a Florida biking accident, wants to make the donation to support the city’s rails-to-trails program. Behm, 57, died in January.

In cooperation with Calli Behm, Kevin’s wife, the city agreed to “a true memorial” to Kevin Behm as part of the use of this funding.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank Calli Behm for her very kind donation to the trail, and also thank you to all of the city officials who helped facilitate this along the way to getting this on the agenda for (Monday ),” Kan said.

“The circumstances in which this money was raised were very tragic, and we wish it was, instead of the money, that Calli’s husband was still around.”

Kan noted that Kevin Behm was hit by an automobile while riding his bicycle.

“So hopefully a small consolation is that these funds will be used to build this trail which will help prevent future accidents like this, so that cyclists and pedestrians have an alternate route to use when traveling “, did he declare.

Kan noted that the item was a last-minute addition to the board’s agenda.

“Normally it would go through the safety and public property committee,” he said. “But thank you Councilor (William) Russo for allowing this to come straight to the council as we had to meet the September 30 deadline to accept this donation.”

The city’s director of legal affairs, Thomas Lobe, also praised council clerk Donna Letourneau for her efforts to get the item on council’s agenda Monday.

“We started this order around 2pm (Monday), and after a number of phone calls and emails, we put it on the agenda, which saves the council from having a special meeting” , said Lobe. “Donna did it.

The 4.2-mile Solon to Chagrin Falls Trail – which includes 2.4 miles of inland Solon – will stretch from SOM Center Road in Bentleyville, through Cleveland Metroparks’ South Chagrin Preserve to Chagrin Falls .

Council unanimously approved a project development agreement for the trail in February.

Cleveland Metroparks will design, build, operate and maintain the trail on a long-unused right-of-way from the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Co. purchased by the City of Solon in 1992.

Donation for Grantwood Golf Course

Also Monday, the council accepted a $15,809 donation of outdoor LED light fixtures and path lights from Kichler Lighting for use by the Grantwood Golf Course for its clubhouse.

Kichler Lighting, which moved its headquarters from Independence to Solon earlier this year, will donate bollard lights, cylinder sconces, two-light spotlights and several outdoor wall lanterns, according to the order.

In a memo to council, Angee Shaker, the city’s director of economic development, said the existing lighting on the golf course was “very old and inefficient”.

Learn more about the Sorrow Solon Sun.

Jill E. Washington