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Council gets peek at Central Park concept

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

Bridge branding project voted down

GREEN — At the June 25 committee and regular meetings, Green City Council viewed a concept to create “the heart of the community,” with the components of the plan to work in concert with each other, creating a harmonious space for those of all ages.

Tony Slanec, director of planning and urban design of OHM Advisors, presented an extensive presentation concerning Central Park, a proposed recreational and relaxing space in the hub of Green. The park would be located on city-owned land, totaling about 5 acres, between Town Park Boulevard and Steese Road, near the Central Administration Building, Mayor Dick Norton explained.

“There will be something at this park for everybody,” he said.

Slanec noted Central Park would attract residents and area employees and would serve as an economic development tool, encouraging further growth in the area.

Visitors would be able to access the main entrance to Central Park via Town Park Boulevard. Upon entering the park, guests would be greeted by an amphitheater and green space for seating, reflected on a rendering presented to Council by Slanec. He explained the concert venue could accommodate about 525 people and the sound would be directed toward Steese Road.

Located in close proximity to the amphitheater would be a pavilion area, housing restrooms and concessions, Slanec said. Hanging aluminum leaves, with colorful netting, would provide shade around the pavilion, the drawing shows. Café-style seating would be part of the pavilion area, as well.

Venturing farther in to Central Park would yield three splash pad play areas and a dry playground, with seating for parents, he said.

Since the park would be in close proximity to senior housing, Central Park would offer a sensory garden, easily accessible to those with disabilities, Slanec said.

Central Park additionally would offer a mile-long path system, with exercise apparatuses located along the trail, and a main building, with surrounding green space, as a venue to hold a farmers’ market and other community events, Slanec said.

The current pond on site would be expanded to create a larger lake for fishing and picnicking. He explained numerous seating areas and a pavilion would surround the lake, which would include lighted water features.

“The water features, trail, farmers’ market space and concert venue will all work together to energize the space,” Slanec said.

He told Council the preliminary concept also includes additional parking off of Steese Road.

Norton said the Central Park concept has been presented to various groups in the city, with positive feedback. He explained Central Park would encourage people of all walks of life to gather in “Central Green” and is an amenity that “makes sense.”

According to the mayor, it is estimated to cost about $5 million to construct Central Park, which he would like open by the middle of 2016. He explained a $5 million loan most likely would be issued. The debt would be retired in about five years by utilizing the portion of income taxes designated for city parks, Norton said.

It is responsible to create Central Park to promote a healthy lifestyle, the mayor said.

“We are being good stewards of the green space we own,” he said.

Even though the planning of Central Park still is in the initial stages, Council allowed residents to provide input on the project.

Those who spoke live in close proximity to the proposed park. Many said they were not against the concept but afraid of the noise it could create. All who spoke asked for the amphitheater to be removed from the project scope.

Resident Karl Kerstetter, of Meadow Wood Lane, said he also was concerned about the amount of traffic the park would create. Considering the park would be near a residential area and senior housing, Kerstetter said it “makes sense” to move the idea elsewhere.

“Five acres is a tiny parcel of land,” resident Susan Rhodes, of Greenridge Drive, said. “Move it away from this residential area.”

Councilman Skip Summerville, Ward 4, reminded those in attendance the complete concept still is being developed and there would be plenty of time for continued feedback as the city advances with the plans.

Also during the meetings, Council continued to debate another project that could encourage growth in the city.

A great portion of the evening was spent mulling an agreement with OHM Advisors for professional engineering services for a proposed bridge branding and enhancing project.

Planning Director Wayne Wiethe has explained the city could utilize four bridges to alert motorists they have crossed into Green. He said the state Route 619, Graybill Road, Wise Road and Akron-Canton Airport bridges are the four gateways into the community.

Norton has said bridge branding has a marketing value and encourages community growth.

“It makes a city look promising and prosperous,” he said.

Per the agreement, the city would pay OHM about $74,000 for design and construction supervision services, which includes getting the Ohio Department of Transportation’s permission for the bridge enhancements.

Estimates presented to Council reflect each bridge — which could feature special railings, lighting and a city emblem — could cost about $330,000 to complete.

Council members expressed concern with the price tag when other projects are needed in the city, including storm water and street improvements.

Norton asked Council not to underestimate the value of bridge branding.

“We would not do this at the risk of infrastructure. We would do these when we can afford them,” he explained.

A few members of Council said “now” was not the right time to do the bridges, but the idea could be revisited in the future.

Council members defeated the concept 5-2.

Council members Jim Colopy (Ward 1) and Dave France (Ward 2) voted in favor of the matter and agreed the bridges could have been done in phases. They said they supported pursuing the concept.

Norton said a future bridge-branding project may come before Council again at a later date.

Also at the meeting, Council entered into a service agreement with Granicus Inc., a software application for efficiency, transparency and citizen participation among governmental bodies. Per the agreement, Council will pay a total of $22,799 to get the program up and running and an additional $1,022 a month to utilize the Granicus system. Council members said the software system would allow the city to go paperless, stream videos online, create an information hub for residents and improve Council’s workflow, among other benefits.

Additionally June 25, Council:

  • confirmed the site plan for Heritage Crossings’ small shops to be located at Massillon Road and Franks Parkway;
  • awarded a contract to Northstar Asphalt for a city paving project in the amount of $719,951.65;
  • awarded a contract to Mark Schaffer Excavating & Trucking Inc. for the CAK International Business Park Phase III, a roadway project, at Port Green Project, for a cost of about $3.5 million, $1.5 million less than the original estimate; and
  • heard the third reading of an ordinance that would change the zoning classification of property containing approximately 80.6 acres of land located at 1102 and 1184 Boettler Road from R-1 (Single-Family Residential) to PD (Planned Development) and would accept the general development plan of the proposed transitions senior living planned development, with a public hearing on the proposed legislation to be held July 9 at 7:05 p.m. at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd.

The next regular Council meeting also will take place July 9, starting at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the CAB.

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