The Geauga Park District’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday reviewed updates on Veterans Legacy Woods and discussed, but ended up delaying action on, a plan for improvements at the Modroo parkland in Russell Township.
Director of Planning and Operations Matt McCue told the board that a structural engineer recommended repairing the deck at the Legacy Woods banquet center so the public would be able to safely use it.
“We had a contractor come in and do the recommendations from the engineer to kind of sure up some of the joists,” he explained, adding that the contractor found more rotting of the deck and did work to bring it up to code while the Geauga Park District waits on finalizing a master plan for the park.
In terms of longevity, Mr. McCue said the repairs give the deck a window of about 18 months to give the park district time to decide what major changes will be made, if any.
“That way, rather than do major changes (before having a master plan), you can get it to where it can be usable all of next year leading into the following year,” he said of the deck during the meeting at the Donald W. Meyer Center of Big Creek Park in Chardon.
The park district contracted with Cramer Engineering, LLC of Fairlawn for the recommendations and contracted with Zerbe Construction of Mentor for the repairs at costs of $3,500 and $9,578, respectively, according to the October financial statements.
In previous meetings, the board discussed whether the deck should be torn down while awaiting a master plan for the entire park.
As for the Modroo property, commissioners tabled the capital improvement plan after some discussion on preliminary planning and presented drawings that had been done by the Russell Township Park District and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
The Geauga Park District has a 15-year lease with the Russell Township Park District to operate and maintain the parklands.
Mr. McCue presented Russell’s recommendations for adding a six-car aggregate parking area and turf pathways through the property. He said minor changes the Geauga Park District made to the plan were just for functionality purposes, including setbacks for driving space in the parking area if the spaces are filled along with safety for cars pulling out of parking spaces.
“There were some setbacks that we identified for them, but overall it looks like their master plan works well for creating a little access to this property,” he said of the Russell Township Park District.
Commissioner Andrej Lah addressed his concerns for the proposed path of the property, pointing out that the county could put time, energy and money into a park it does not own at the expense of other district parks.
“I do not want to see that we’re taking resources away from parks that I’ve seen people use that may not be residents of Russell Township,” Mr. Lah said. He added that asphalt trails in other parks need to be maintained properly to be accessible for those in wheelchairs and spending too many resources on a leased property might take away from the ones the district owns.
“I appreciate the plan, I appreciate what you’re looking to do here,” Mr. Lah said. “I’m concerned with how much money we’re going to spend.”
The path, according to Mr. McCue, would be a mowed down trail. He said the Geauga Park District would just need to mow down the trail three to four times in the spring through the fall. He added that they would not have anything to do with the expenses or work on the parking area and said that would be covered by predetermined plans within the Russell Township Park District and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
In other news, the board reviewed the draft for park district’s 2020 budget, which was presented for consideration before its requested approval for the Dec. 10 board meeting.
Commissioner Jackie Dottore pointed out a few concerns of budget increases that she considered significant, mentioning she wanted to make sure the increases were not simply due to the park district’s levy renewal.
She said that the personnel and benefits category under total appropriations increase by about $150,000, going from about $2.3 million for 2019 to about $2.45 million for 2020. She also pointed out some personnel increases of $30,000 and several contracted service increases totaling nearly $60,000. She also noted drops in the budget for supplies and materials between $10,000 and $20,000 and hospitalization at nearly $40,000.
“I need to feel reassured that a lot of these things haven’t gone up because we just passed a levy,” she said, adding that she is sure the increases can be explained, but would like to see those explanations for better understanding before approving the budget for the next meeting.
The next Geauga Park District meeting is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.m. at Claridon Woodlands Park, 11383 Claridon Troy Road in Chardon.