Committed to preserving its main asset, Chardon Square, Chardon city officials agreed last week to set aside money that can be used to acquire properties on the square for future development.

Members of the City Council Finance Committee met last week to discuss how much and for how long they would put aside the money in a Chardon Square Capital Improvement Fund needed to acquire those properties.

City Council is expected to consider the committee’s recommendation this week that calls for setting aside 2 percent of the city’s income tax haul for 10 years.

Mate Rogonjic, city finance director, noted that the fund compliments the city’s comprehensive plan update, which noted the square as being one of the city’s main assets. The fund will be used to purchase parcels, particularly along the east side of the square, in the hope to encourage a development that will mirror the historic west side of the square.

He told the committee he researched the values of properties on the square, including Park Elementary, the Geauga County Library and county-owned properties.

While Mr. Rogonjic proposed setting aside 1 percent of gross monthly income tax receipts for the fund until the fund reached $500,000 after five years, members of the committee said that proposal was not aggressive enough.

Councilman Christopher Grau questioned whether the 1 percent set aside would be sufficient and proposed the figure be 1.5 to 2 percent without a $500,000 cap. He said five years from now the $500,000 would not be worth as much as it might be now.

He said that would provide little to build the city’s vision on the square.

City Manager Randal Sharpe said the city has no intention of building, but only assembling the properties for a developer.

Councilman Jeffrey Smock agreed that a more aggressive approach is needed. He said the city could easily spend $1 million for the Chase Bank property at the north end of the square. The property was considered previously for an expansion of the Geauga County Courthouse after Geauga County Commissioners proposed moving the courthouse from the square.

Although the city can, by law, reserve the monies for up to 10 years without spending it, Mr. Smock said the 10-year limit is somewhat artificial.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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