Among $37.7 million in preliminary Capital Improvement Requests for 2022 are allotments for an indoor firing range for the Solon Police Department and two rails-to-trails projects.
Finance Director Matthew Rubino presented to City Council’s Finance Committee Monday a preliminary look at capital requests over the next five years and beginning in 2022. Total requests over the next five years amount to $130.3 million.
None have been approved nor been funded at the amount and year of the request at this point, he noted, with most requests originating from the department replacement schedules and capital inventory assessments.
Police Chief Richard Tonelli explained to the committee the need for an indoor firing range for officers, with $350,000 requested for the project.
Chief Tonelli said his concern is that the current range is located in neighboring Glenwillow, although the structure belongs to the city of Solon.
“A political football” has been kicked around over the past few years, he continued, with complaints from Glenwillow residents and businesses linked to noise occurring. It had been shut down for several months and attempts were made to put up a barrier. The outdoor range is located on Beaver Meadow Parkway.
“I really want our range to be in Solon, so we don’t have those issues,” he said.
He suggested the grassy knoll area on the property between the police department’s upper lot. Costs to construct a building have not yet been determined.
Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany asked if Solon shares an indoor range with other communities.
Chief Tonelli said they use Bedford Police Department’s indoor range and reciprocate by involving their department in other trainings they do not have.
Currently, the range is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which makes it difficult for those officers on night shift to practice, Chief Tonelli said.
“If feasible, our preference is to move it indoors,” he said, and therefore it would involve officers of all shifts.
Officers have a mandatory recertification once a year for firearms and they try to get them to practice shooting at least once every six weeks, Chief Tonelli said.
“We would shoot more if we had the opportunity,” he said, noting that is one of the most important aspects of police work that they need to be proficient in.
Councilman Robert N. Pelunis agreed that what is currently in place for a range is “pretty antiquated.”
He said if an indoor range is going to be considered, it should be placed on police grounds. He wants to look into costs, he said.
In other projects over the next five years, a Solon to Bainbridge trail is estimated at $3.5 million, with $1.5 million requested for 2022 and $5.3 million for the Norfolk Southern trail, with $1.5 million a preliminary request for 2022. Solon has the longest portion of the 7-mile Norfolk Southern trail, but does share it with Bainbridge and Aurora, with funding options possible through them as well, Mr. Rubino said.
Mr. Rubino said there has been discussion of acquiring additional property for these projects to come to fruition.
“These are two big items the city will have to determine how to manage funds and bring toward reality in the coming years,” he said.
Mayor Kraus said the city continues to make tremendous investments in areas they deem a priority and these two rails to trails projects are “transformational.
“It just can’t be the same old,” he said, noting that residents desire the walkability.
“That’s how you attract businesses and young families,” Mayor Kraus said.
He said that, although the price tag seems large at this point, the Cleveland Metroparks is pursuing federal grant funding and other sources are available.
Mrs. Meany said she agreed with the mayor and that it is important to be “forward thinking and give the residents these things.
“We need to invest in our community,” she said. “I agree, and I support it.”
Mr. Pelunis also agreed with investing in the community, he said.
Mr. Rubino presented a summary of the major projects requested and explained that capital planning began in the summer and a more completed plan is available this month. He took feedback from the committee and will continue to revise the plan prior to a formal presentation during budget hearings in November.
Of the 2022 request, the majority is infrastructure, he added.