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Boston, Falls reach annexation agreement

6/27/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

Also, Sheraton Dam demolition beginning soon on riverfront

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Two municipalities are exchanging regular road maintenance for vacant land and the future tax revenue it may generate.

At the June 24 regular meeting, Cuyahoga Falls Council permitted Mayor Don Robart to enter into an annexation agreement with Boston Township.

Per the agreement, the city will take responsibility for Wetmore Road, which runs along the southern border of the township, and obtain ownership of approximately 615 acres of land surrounding the roadway. Wetmore and the adjacent acreage are part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Last summer, the township requested permission from Summit County Council to vacate Wetmore, Oak Hill and Stanford roads, three of their less traveled roadways. At that time, members of the city administration specifically voiced concern about the impact that closing Wetmore would have on Falls residents.

Service Director Valerie Wax Carr has said safety service response times to some areas of the city would be negatively impacted if the township abandoned Wetmore. City officials also said some Falls’ residents would like to continue using Wetmore as a route to Akron-Peninsula Road.

Oak Hill and Stanford were vacated due to the cost associated with maintaining the roadways and the township’s lack of revenue. The city maintained Wetmore during the winter months while the township and city negotiated an annexation agreement, according to Falls’ officials.

Also at the regular meeting, Council introduced legislation approving the site plan related to the construction of a 92,622-square-foot grocery store at 2687 State Road and a 34,562-square-foot cinema at 2925 State Road, both within Portage Crossing, a proposed 241,000-square-foot retail development at the former site of the State Road Shopping Center.

Council President Don Walters (D-Ward 6) said the Planning and Zoning Committee would review the site plan at the July 1 committee meetings.

Also June 24, Council approved legislation:

  • authorizing the city’s Parks and Recreation Board to enter into a contract for the replacement of flooring at the Natatorium;
  • approving a contract for the installation of a storm sewer and associated appurtenances in a portion of Eighth Street; and
  • granting an encroachment permit to the Woodridge Local School District for the purpose of installing and operating a private sanitary force main sewer on Northampton and West Bath roads.

In other city business, Carr announced before the meeting’s close that the removal of the Sheraton Dam would take place this week. She said the entire process would last about seven days. (Originally slated to begin Wednesday, it was postponed due to weather.)

She told Council necessary testing would be done before the first cut into the dam is made, and no explosives would be used during the process. According to Carr, the community could view the dam removal progress and watch live streaming of the demolition — via the “Dam Cam” — by visiting the city’s web site, www.cityofcf.com, and clicking on “Dam Restoration Project” on the left.

Carr said the removal of the second dam, LeFever Powerhouse Dam, would take place next month.

She added the public is asked not to enter the construction zone, from Riverfront Park to the Prospect Bridge, during the entire demolition phase.

In February 2012, the city received proposals for the removal of the two dams. That July, the city chose RiverWorks as the design-build project team. RiverWorks is a team of restoration biologists, engineers and construction specialists that have worked in partnership since 2007 to provide design-build expertise on waterway projects.

The RiverWorks team collaboration includes Enviroscience, GPD Engineering and RiverReach Construction, along with the local Sheraton Hotel owner Tom Dillon as a senior adviser on the project.

The Powerhouse/Samira Dam was built in 1914 to supply power for the Walsh Paper Co. The Mill/Sheraton Dam was built between 1914 and 1918 for the Vaughn Machinery Co. for use in the production of steel, rubber, copper and clay products.

City officials have said the approximate $1 million project was approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and will be funded through the state’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.

The project is anticipated to restore the river as it was 200 years ago, improving water quality and providing new recreational opportunities, according to city officials.

Don Robart has said the removal of the dams would provide kayakers with class 4 and 5 rapids and improve the water quality for area swimming and fishing.

Council will hold committee meetings July 1 and a regular meeting July 8, both beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St.

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