WOODMERE — Council members raised questions about the cost of the Village Hall renovation at their meeting last week, asking how it stretched nearly $50,000 above the guaranteed maximum price of $644,327.

Following the Aug. 20 meeting, Treasurer Rhonda Hall said that she could not confirm whether the renovation was still within budget because she has not yet seen the contract. Mrs. Hall was hired just this month.

“I just want to know. Do we have the funds to finish?” Councilwoman Glenda Todd Miller asked. “We don’t even know that we have money to finish that project. The fire project was the main project we needed to accomplish but we needed to move the police to accomplish the fire [project].”

In November, council approved a resolution for Mayor Ben Holbert to enter into an agreement with Infinity Construction for the listed guaranteed maximum price, or GMP, for renovations to the police and fire departments. Over the last few months, council approved three change orders for the renovation totaling $49,678. One change order cost the village $14,093 to correct unforeseen defects in the plumbing and sanitary sewer discovered during the construction process, according to the resolution.

The GMP increased by $5,849 for a change order to correct a damaged electrical panel, replace an inoperable heating system and modify various interior appurtenances. The final change order was for $29,736 for additional work extending the fire wall in the garage, replacing doors and railings and repairing a concrete threshold.

According to Village Architect Calvin Singleton, phase one of the renovation includes a parking garage and a sally port for the police department. After the service department moved into its new facility on Maplecrest Road, the police were able to utilize the leftover space. He explained that the police department will have a new facility within an existing shell.

In phase two of the renovation, Mr. Singleton said that he will provide sleeping quarters for the fire department that are separate from the apparatus room in addition to a training area, a larger office space, a women’s restroom and sleeping area and a dining area.

Village Engineer Ed Hren said that as far as he knows, the village will move forward with the project. He said that each change order gave a detailed explanation of the issues that needed to be resolved and reiterated that council approved each change order.

“We presented [council] with all of the costs and the change orders give detailed explanations. We haven’t deviated from that process and we haven’t encouraged any additional change orders,” Mr. Hren said. “I’m assuming we can afford it because it’s been approved by the council. Change orders also go through the Finance Committee.”

According to Fire Chief Johnny Brewington, the fire department also made several recommendations for the Village Hall renovation. Chief Brewington explained that he has a list of safety priorities that should be part of the renovation project. For example, he said that the inside space lacks a proper drainage system needed when firefighters wash the trucks.

“For us, designating the space and the space being usable are two different things,” Chief Brewington said. “There are some issues with what we already have. I’m not opposed if it could be done as a maintenance plan.”

In other news, Woodmere had a second public meeting on Aug. 22 as a part of its master planning process. Residents and community stakeholders gathered at the Pepper Pike Learning Center to hear from the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission about the master plan. Planners Rachel Novak and Nichole Laird discussed strategies for housing, branding, marketing, mobility and wellness in the village.

The steering committee is working to encourage diverse housing development, create a consistent community brand and market the village’s location and community assets. They also want to encourage alternative mobility options and promote community wellness through recreation, according to the planning commission.

Madelaine Delgado, 69, of Woodmere said community Wi-Fi being sold to businesses makes sense.

“I like the idea of Wi-Fi for the village and making a municipal hub for businesses,” she said of the idea discussed by the planning commission. “The businesses could get their Wi-Fi from the village. That’s a money maker and we need to take in revenue.”

Another attendee said that village officials can multitask using the master plan. For example, if the village decided to install recreational trails, officials could focus on another topic in the master plan, such as writing grant applications, while the trails are being built.

There will be one more public meeting about the master plan later this year, in addition to the presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission and council, which are both public meetings.

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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