HUNTING VALLEY — As part of the 2021 budget, Hunting Valley officials are planning for road and infrastructure improvements to keep the village moving forward. Major projects that are slated for 2021 include the reconstruction of Chagrin River Road; intersection improvements at Hillbrook Drive, South Woodland and County Line roads; a truck replacement and security cameras. The council members discussed these projects and more on at a budget meeting Oct. 12.

Reconstructing Chagrin River Road will be the last major infrastructure project to be completed. The $2.14 million project will take up about 3 miles of the road, according to Service Director Don Cunningham. It includes tree removal to permit road widening and improved ditching and swales, in addition to replacing storm sewer piping and culverts, he said. The project also includes installing a retaining wall south of Hunting Hill Farm Drive and resurfacing Chagrin River Road.

At completion, each lane will be 11-feet wide. Councilwoman Barbara Burkhart asked if many trees will be removed to widen the road. Mr. Cunningham said yes, but did not have a definite number yet. When asked about the proposed width of Chagrin River Road, Mr. Cunningham said the road is hazardous now and needs to be widened.

“It’s a dangerous location, people come flying up or down over that hill and that’s a pinch point,” Mr. Cunningham said, referring to a hill on Chagrin River Road south of Hunting Hill Farm Drive. “I’m surprised we don’t get more mirrors knocked off.”

Councilwoman Nancy Heinen said if there was an accident there, a litigator could say that the village tried to save trees instead of widening the road so it is safe. Councilman Bill O’Neill also supported the widening, noting that the scenery attracts many runners and cyclists but cutting down a few trees for safety would not detract from its appearance.

Mr. Cunningham also proposed $66,500 worth of improvements at the intersection of Hillbrook Drive, South Woodland Road and County Line Road. The intersection has a sharp turn and there are poor sight lines for turning vehicles. Mr. Cunningham said that he would like to move the apron for Hillbrook north to improve sight lines and ensure clear distances between vehicles.

Council Clerk Harry Hawkes said that he is concerned about accidents at this intersection in its current configuration. Police Chief Michael Cannon said that there has not been much of a problem with accidents so far.

Mr. Cunningham said that the Service Department is in need of a new dump and snowplow truck. The village’s truck is from 2006 and has heavy corrosion on the brakes, snowplow, wheel rims, air tanks, electrical wiring and hydraulic hoses. A new truck would cost $160,936, he said, but the village could sell the old truck for about $10,000. If council chose not to appropriate funds for a new truck, Mr. Cunningham still asked for $22,700 for various new pieces of equipment if they break in the coming year.

Council voted 5-1 to buy a new truck. Mr. O’Neill said that the service employees should try to stretch the use of this truck for another year. Ms. Heinen said that council members need to think about the safety of their employees.

“I think we should look at the employees’ point of view,” Ms. Heinen said. “We’re putting employees in this truck in the dead of night in a blast of cold. You don’t want them to have a bad situation and a bad safety issue.”

Council also approved a $65,000 expenditure for 25 Flock Safety cameras at key intersections in the village. The village will be reimbursed by the Hunting Valley Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that accepts donations from village residents. The foundation funds items and services that are helpful to residents but may not be in the village budget. Gates Mills and Pepper Pike are also considering the same cameras.

Flock Safety cameras are license plate readers that can detect stolen vehicles and cars associated with missing children and missing seniors, along with other functions. The license plate number and car model are cross-checked with data in the National Crime Information Center. Chief Cannon said that the system will be used to investigate crimes and respond to alerts rather than monitor everyday drivers.

“I’m confident this is going to be a really good tool for us to use,” Chief Cannon said.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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