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City’s storm water project ready for planting

10/10/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

NEW FRANKLIN — New Franklin’s storm water demonstration project is the first of its kind in Ohio and is drawing visitors from other communities, according to Mayor Al Bollas.

The project, being constructed using an $186,000 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and $50,000 in matching funds from the city, is located in front of City Hall. It includes a retention basin, green space, a wetland, a three-quarter mile walking trail around the perimeter that could link to another trail to be established at the nearby Miracle Field and a porous parking lot for 31 additional vehicles.

Bollas said at the Oct. 2 New Franklin Council meeting the project is now ready for planting. Volunteers are needed to help plant more than 200 native wildflowers and plants donated by Ohio Prairie Nursery Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested in helping out should come prepared with boots and gloves.

Bollas also announced that initial plans to extend the trail on the storm water project site to a trail on Miracle Field are moving forward, thanks to receipt of a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Those funds will be used to purchase senior exercise equipment to be set up at fitness stations on the Miracle Field trail.

Bollas added the city would have to kick in an estimated $30,000 to create that trail, with work to begin next spring.

Zoning and Grant Coordinator Mark Kochheiser, who applied for the CDBG grant, also demonstrated the effectiveness of a retention basin and vegetation on storm water management using a “streamulator” supplied by the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District (SSWCD).

The streamulator is a table filled with sand and two water lines, with one going through a “retention basin” and one through “land” without. When water is turned on, it shows how the flow of storm water through the retention basin flows much slower than the one through land.

Kochheiser also noted rain barrels can be used to control storm water flow and ease flooding. One rain barrel, painted by Manchester High School science teacher Carrie Soful and her students, is being auctioned on the city’s website at www.newfranklin.org, with a starting minimum bid of $60.

According to Kochheiser, this is part of a fundraising effort to provide continued public education and awareness of storm water management, water conservation and storm water quality issues, and the effort was created by the SSWCD.

With the help of a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil and Water Resources, SSWCD was able to provide rain barrels and supplies to interested communities, and local artists and volunteers painted them before they were offered for auction to local residents, according to Kochheiser. The rain barrels come with a kit and instructions for installation, he added, and proceeds from the auctions will be used to offer the program next summer.

The winner of the auction for the New Franklin rain barrel will be announced at the Nov. 2 vegetation planting event at City Hall.

In other business at the meeting, Council voted 6-0, with Councilman Terry Harget (Ward 2) abstaining because his son is a police officer for the New Franklin Police Department, to ratify a three-year (2013-15) labor agreement between the city and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Changes to the agreement, retroactive to Oct. 1, include: a stipend of $1,000 for both 2013 and 2014 and a 2 percent increase on base pay of 2013 for 2015; to increase the amount of paid vacation that employees may sell back to the city from five days to eight; and increasing footwear allowances to $150 annually and uniform allowances to $180 annually.

Councilman Paul Adamson (Ward 1) commended the group for sitting down with city officials to discuss the matter, which he said saved the city tens of thousands of dollars in negotiation fees.

Also at the meeting, Council approved the transfer of money in the General Fund, including $2,000 to Franklin Park Civic Center and $100,000 for police operations, and another $250,000 to police operations for 2012, as recommended by the State Auditor’s Office.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several Highland Park Drive residents commended city officials for their perseverance in pursuing the demolition of a nuisance property on their street.

Law Director Tom Musarra stated the city hopes to get the home, which has been condemned by Summit County Public Health and the Summit County Building Department for a variety of health and safety reasons, taken down by winter.

“This was an extreme situation, but the city will be aggressive in dealing with these issues,” he added.

He also urged residents to apply for required building permits prior to putting up any kind of structures to avoid other kinds of problems. Musarra said the city is currently dealing with a garage improperly encroaching by one-third of its size on a neighbor’s property on Rex Lake Drive, and city officials are in court in an effort to force the owner to have it removed or moved.

The next Council meeting will take place Oct. 16 starting at 6 p.m. and continuing for the regular meeting immediately afterward at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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