Solon City Council last week approved $365,000 in renovations to the historical Bull house despite one councilman questioning the cost that was nearly double the initial estimate.
The Lynch home, considered historical by some residents and located next door to the Bull house, met the wrecking ball earlier this year.
Public Works Director William Drsek gave Bull house renovation cost estimates to the City Council Safety and Public Properties Committee during a recent meeting. In the 2020 city budget, $200,000 was approved for the interior and exterior renovations of the city-owned Bull house on Bainbridge Road across the street from the Solon Center for the Arts.
A total base bid from Gordian Group Inc. came in at $342,076, which broke down to $172,675 for the exterior, and $169,401 for the interior. Mr. Drsek also said the home is in need of waterproofing at a cost of $23,450 for a total of $365,256.
Mr. Drsek said the plan is to complete the project in time for the time capsule opening as part of the bicentennial celebration on June 14.
The Bull home dates back to 1835 and is at 34045 Bainbridge Road. It is named for the founder of the city, Lorenzo Solon Bull. Preserving the structure is addressed in the city’s master plan.
Councilman Jeremy A. Zelwin said he was hesitant to approve the expenditure as it came in much higher than the original estimate. Plus, he said, the city’s financial forecast could be uncertain due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The expenditure passed by a vote of 6-1, with Mr. Zelwin voting no and Councilmen Marc R. Kotora, William I. Russo, Eugene Macke Bentley, Robert Shimits, Robert N. Pelunis and Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany voting yes.
Prior to the vote at the safety meeting, Mr. Zelwin asked Tracy Sullivan, director of community and cultural enrichment, to detail the future use of the building.
She said it would be used for a second gallery space, an adult art space and a small rental space, among other things.
“It would be a multi-use space inside the building,” she said. “It will be another space to move into.”
Mrs. Sullivan noted that at the Solon Center for the Arts, children occupy the downstairs art space for classes and there is a need for a space for adults, which the Bull house could accommodate. Also, music can be performed on the outdoor patio space in the summer, she said.
“There is a demand for adult classes,” she said. “I get calls all the time.”
Mr. Zelwin said the outside of the building needs dire attention, but before approving the entire amount of $365,526, he wants to make sure the city can allocate the money to put in the capital plan. He suggested waiting until the finance committee meets in two weeks. Mr. Drsek said in order to procure materials, the contractor needs a notice to proceed by April 10, before finance
Mr. Pelunis said using the Bull house for adult art classes and extra exhibit space is a good idea.
“The more we can have this used by the community, the better,” Mr. Pelunis
Mr. Russo said the city made a commitment to the community to renovate this house. “I would like to see this passed tonight and not hold it up,” he said during the council meeting last week. “I’m confident we can find resources in the capital budget to put toward this.”
Mr. Zelwin said he does not want to use money from the city’s budget stabilization, or rainy day, fund for this project.
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said he is just beginning the process to work with the finance director to determine capital and budget issues linked to the pandemic.
“We are not going to have all the answers by the next finance meeting,” Mayor Kraus said. He said it is not his intention to pull funds from the budget stabilization fund, “but we are just starting that
Mr. Zelwin said his hesitation centers on the bid coming in at nearly twice the original estimate.
Mr. Pelunis agreed with Mr. Russo that a commitment was made to the residents to renovate the home.
“The longer it sits, the more maintenance issues that will come out,” Mr. Pelunis said. “I understand where Jeremy (Zelwin) is on the reallocation but I would be comfortable moving forward.”
“The Bull home is something we promised the residents and something we make sure we do,” Mayor Kraus added. “You don’t want that house to rot and sit there without the needed improvements.”