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Green has new buyer for Belden Lodge

5/16/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

Also, salary adjustments being considered for city employees

GREEN — An area entrepreneur is getting set to wine and dine the city of Green.

Legislation was introduced at the May 14 Green City Council meeting to authorize a real estate purchase agreement between the city and Theodore Swaldo for the property known as Belden Lodge in Southgate Park.

Mayor Dick Norton said he is thrilled Swaldo, the owner of Gervasi Vineyard in Canton, submitted an offer to purchase the city-owned Belden Lodge and adjacent 8.71 acres at Southgate Park.

Earlier this year, Table of Life LLC announced it would purchase the Belden Lodge to open its own gourmet restaurant and winery under the direction of gourmet chef Kent Welsh.

According to city officials, however, one of the Table of Life investors pulled out of the deal at the end of March, claiming costs to renovate the facility surpassed initial estimates.

“We’ve had much interest in the property by a number of potential businesses,” Norton said. “The picturesque location of the Belden Lodge certainly makes it a great property for a winery and restaurant. We are extremely excited to have a Gervasi operation coming to Green.”

The Belden Lodge was acquired as part of the Southgate Property in 2006, according to city officials. During Council meetings earlier this year, the city administration explained the Belden Lodge has been unusable due to the costs associated with making the facility compliant with current fire codes and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. City officials have estimated it would cost about $1 million to renovate the building. Belden Lodge was put up for sale by the city at the end of 2011.

According to the purposed purchase agreement, Swaldo would buy the property for $625,000, putting $10,000 down, for a closing balance of $615,000. He would be required to build a driveway to the site from Massillon Road, the agreement stipulates.

City officials said the purchase agreement and Swaldo’s intent for Belden Lodge further would be discussed at the next Environment and Parks Commission meeting May 28 around 5:15 p.m. at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd.

Also at the meeting, Council heard the second reading of a resolution authorizing the funds to enable Mayor Dick Norton to grant salary adjustments to the city’s nonbargaining employees. Human Resource Manager Jeanne Greco explained the legislation would authorize a 3 percent pool of funds to be used to grant pay adjustments to the city’s nonbargaining employees. She explained the department heads would be able to grant raises, retroactive to Jan. 1, based on merit. Greco said about $47,000 would be used for the increases in salaries.

Council additionally heard the second reading of a resolution amending the city’s compensation system by updating the salary range schedule for nonbargaining unit employees. Councilman Dave France (Ward 2) said the salary range shows the minimum and maximum wages for each city position. He added the last time the schedule was adjusted was in 2007. According to France, increasing the minimum and maximum wages by 8 percent would help the city with recruiting for certain positions and retaining current personnel. He said it was important to review the salary range schedule regularly, making adjustments, to keep up with surrounding communities. Greco said the resolution, once approved, would not increase anyone’s current pay at this time.

Also during the regular meeting, following the committee meetings, Council held a public hearing concerning a resolution to amend the general development plan for a low-density residential complex, known as Campo D’Amore, on South Arlington Road, south of East Nimisila Road. Councilman Gerard Neugebauer (at large) explained the plan was revised from 69 individual building lots to three buildings, with a large portion of land being used for common space. No one spoke out against the measure.

Council also held a public hearing on an ordinance that would adopt revised rules for the Civil Service Commission. France explained the rules had not been updated since September 2006, and the majority of changes were made in light of technological advancements and to keep the city functioning proactively in regards to human resource functions.

Both pieces of legislation would be up for passage at the next regular meeting May 28 at the CAB.

Additionally during the meetings of the committees and the regular meeting, Council:

  • approved changing the zoning classification of property containing approximately 2.48 acres of land at 1860 and 1870 Graybill Road from R-1 (Single-Family Residential) to B-1 (General Business);
  • awarded a $924,550 contract to Superior Paving & Materials for the Greensburg Road (East) resurfacing project, from Steese Road to the end of Greensburg Road;
  • agreed not to request a hearing concerning Joseph Cernava’s request for a D5 liquor license for 4195 Massillon Road, Suite 219; and
  • held a lengthy discussion concerning a possible software purchase that could enhance the work flow within the city, with official legislation on the matter to be presented next month during a Council meeting.

The next regular meeting is set for May 28 at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers at the CAB.

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