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Community News

City buys Sisler Field

6/13/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Shown is a rendering of the stormwater demonstration project to be constructed on property south of New Franklin City Hall.
Rendering: Environmental Design Group/courtesy of the city of New Franklin
NEW FRANKLIN — After years of effort to purchase the property, the baseball field known as Sisler Field is now owned by the city of New Franklin.

New Franklin City Council approved on first reading legislation to purchase Sisler Field for $107,500 from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland at the June 5 meeting.

According to the city’s website, the city has leased and maintained the 11-acre property located on West Nimisila Road next to Manchester Middle School since the fall of 2003. New Franklin City Councilman Paul Adamson (Ward 1) said the city paid $1 a year.

According to the city’s website, the ball field is named in honor of George H. Sisler. Once a resident of what was then Franklin Township, now New Franklin, Sisler (1893-1973) was one of the first 13 players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He was signed by the St. Louis Browns in 1915 and went on to play for the Washington Senators and Boston Braves. For more on Sisler, visit www.newfranklin.org.

Finance Director Susan Cooke said the city will use $120,000 in inheritance taxes it has received to purchase Sisler Field.

Mayor Al Bollas added that purchasing the ball field will allow the city to make improvements.

Council also approved on first reading advertising for bids for the New Franklin Stormwater Demonstration project. The project, to be set up on property purchased along Center Road in front of City Hall, will include green space, a walking trail that may hook up to one in Miracle Field (located east of City Hall) and an additional 31 parking spots, according to Bollas.

The city received an $186,000 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in April 2012 for the storm water project, which required $50,000 in matching funds. Those funds were spent on engineering for the project, according to Bollas. City officials hope to complete the project by the end of the year and believe it will alleviate flooding downstream.

Area residents soon will be able to watch all these decisions made by Council and more online. Council adopted, also on first reading, legislation to authorize 24K Media Group to film Council meetings for $150 per meeting for five meetings and to place them on the city’s website at www.newfranklin.org for residents to view. A copy of the taping will be available for purchase at City Hall.

Councilwoman Judy Jones (at large) had offered to pay for this initial effort to help the city determine whether to proceed with a contract with the business, but Law Director Tom Musarra questioned whether that was ethical since Jones plans to run for re-election this fall. The city will pay for the first five tapings instead.

Musarra said the city’s webmaster wil monitor the hits to see how many people are viewing the taped meetings.

Council meetings used to be broadcast on TimeWarner Cable’s local access channel until it became cost-prohibitive several years ago, according to city officials. Bollas has reported that virtually no one called to complain about the lack of broadcasting Council meetings.

In other business, Council adopted the following on first reading:

  • the transfer of $8,000 within police funds for a grant received for bullet-proof vests;
  • an increase of $25,000 payable to GPD Group for city engineering services to accommodate an increased number of city projects this year;
  • an increase of 50 cents per hour for a summer maintenance worker; and
  • on second reading, awarding a bid of $502,307 to Karvo Paving for the state Route 619/South Turkeyfoot Road Realignment project, to begin this fall.

Legislation to accept recommendations of a fact-finder report on the New Franklin/International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2885 contract was placed on time, effectively approving it, as the contract states that if neither party rejects the recommendations within seven days, they are deemed to be agreed upon. Council met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss labor negotiations related to the legislation prior to agreeing to placing it on time.

The report on the proposed three-year contract for IAFF employees included recommendations on two items on which the two parties could not agree. The union requested an increase from $900 in 2010 to $1,200 per year this year for clothing, plus $150 for footwear for each of the 12 full-time firefighters this year to come into parity with what police officers get. City officials opposed this for cost reasons and because they have already supplemented the provision with a $150 allowance in footwear. The fact-finder recommendation was to increase the clothing allowance to $1,000 per year.

The union also requested a 2 percent contribution from the city to firefighter pensions, effective July 1. Police currently get 4 percent in exchange for a wage freeze in the first year of their contract, and firefighters are looking for parity. The city was opposed to this due to costs, but the fact-finder recommended the contribution.

The city and IAFF agreed upon all other matters, including salary increases, working hours, leave and vacations, seniority, injury and sick leave, safety and health matters, personnel reduction and grievance arbitration.

Also placed on time was an ordinance to amend the New Franklin Zoning Code Section 800.01 (Supplemental Land Use Regulations) to amend the definition of accessory structure found in Article 14, for clarification purposes.

Also during the meeting, Bollas announced he is the honorary chair for the Dragon Boat Festival July 13 at Portage Lakes State Park, which will benefit breast cancer research. Bollas said he is looking for women to participate on a boat for the event and/or contributions for the team. For details, contact Bollas via email at mayor@newfranklin.org or by calling 330-882-4324.

Council also discussed issues with demolishing dilapidated homes in the city. Musarra said there is a process to do this, but it can be lengthy and costly up front. Four homes are scheduled to be demolished in the city using Moving Ohio Forward grant funds, but Bollas said there are a number of other homes that need to be razed.

The next regular Council meeting will take place June 19 starting at 6 p.m. with committee meetings, followed by the regular meeting at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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