RUSSELL — Trustees are planning a public work session with Larsen Architects to discuss building a storage facility for both the fire and police department.
“We probably won’t take action, we just want to talk to the architect to see where he’s at,” Trustee Jim Mueller explained. “I think, once a month, we want to have Larsen come in and update us on that.”
The decision to move forward with the storage facility was made in part at the urging of the Geauga County Budget Commission, whose members during an Aug. 14 meeting encouraged trustees to spend the tax dollars. The commission later approved the township budget, with the project included.
The Russell Road Department is looking to make major repairs to five township roads in 2021, as proposed on a list of project requests that trustees voted to send to the Geauga County Engineer’s Office for estimates.
Sugartree Drive, Hillbrook Lane East, Waterfall Trail, Deerbrook Drive and Fedeli Lane all rank among Road Superintendent Gene Lang’s list of streets in need of the most maintenance. “This isn’t a commitment,” Mr. Lang said. “Just the projects I feel have the most priority.”
When Mr. Mueller asked him if he was satisfied with the $428,000 budget for 2021, Mr. Lang responded no.
“That’s $75,000 less than I had this year, and probably another $100,000 from the previous year,” he said. “I need $600,000 a year. With these increased rainfalls, it just keeps piling on.”
Mr. Mueller said the loss in budget is a result of a loss in inside millage. Trustees decided to wait until after the first road project of 2021 is completed, at which point they would look over their revenues to see if more money can be given to the Road Department.
Mr. Lang told the Trustees that the resurfacing work on Water Fall Trail will finish all maintenance work in the Modroo subdivision. Deerbrook also will be resurfaced, while Hillbrook Lane is in need of a new culvert to mitigate drainage issues.
“I’ve counted over 100 patches on [Fedeli Lane],” Mr. Lang said. “It’s pretty much a must at this point. It’s like a perfect storm. It sat for years because lots were unattainable. Now they’ve had more construction vehicles and building about 10 to 12 years in. So, the road was already aging, if you throw that construction on there, it’s bad.”
The very last will be Sugar Tree Drive, which Mr. Lang said has been experiencing flooding issues due to rainfall over the past few years. The flooding, he said, affects four homes on that road, but his department should be able to fix it with a culvert in the right of way.
Now, trustees just have to wait to hear the County Engineers’ estimates and recommendations before finalizing their project list.
They also voted to apply for a $350,000 grant that would allow the township to resurface a 1.4-mile section of Pekin Road between Chillicothe Road and Watt Road through the Ohio Public Works Commission’s grant pre-application process.
“The OPWC gives a chunk of change out every four or five years and likes to rotate it,” Mr. Mueller said at the meeting. “Our turn is up either this or next year.” The township last received the money in 2017, when they chose to spend it on the County Line Road reconstruction project.
That project is slated to be done by the end of this month if the weather cooperates.
“By the end of this week, the entire road will have pavement on it,” he said. “Trax [Construction] has about three weeks’ worth of work left, just some tidying up and then they’ll come and put the surface coat on.”
Trustees also pulled $18,000 from the general payroll account to help pay Administrative Assistant Melissa Palmer, who Mr. Muller said has been working more hours than usual this year. The decision was made following an executive session at the end of the meeting.
“She was supposed to be a part-time employee,” he elaborated. “We’ve basically gobbled through our entire budget so we had to add $18,000 so she could finish out the year. I think certainly an element of it is from the pandemic. There’s a lot more paperwork that she’s doing. The trustees’ job is getting more complicated all the time.”
Mr. Mueller also said that she used to be a full-time employee when she started but decided to transition to working part time a few years ago.
Prior to the pandemic, trustees had discussed replacing the security system in the Road Department garage. Mr. Lang said he is waiting for a purchase order for the system from the fiscal office before he commits to anything. Alarm services are currently provided by PB Alarm Co. in Chester Township, he added.
Trustees agreed to award $2,660 to CJ Landscaping to plow the parking lots by the administrative, fire and police buildings throughout the winter. Mr. Lang and Mr. Mueller both supported the contract, giving CJ Landscaping high marks for their past work.
Trustees also agreed to grant two cemetery variances, one allowing the Slaybough family to place two smaller headstones in the graveyard in lieu of the single family monument they had initially wanted. The other one will allow resident Jim Davis to use one of his sculptures as a grave stone at the lot he purchased.
“I guess he’s a sculptor and he’s got work here and there,” Mr. Mueller elaborated. “He’d like to have something on his gravestone that he himself built.”
The next Russell Township Trustees meeting is 7 p.m. on Sept. 16.