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Road resurfacing behind schedule in Coventry

7/17/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — This month, the annual road resurfacing program will begin in Coventry, but only about 4.3 miles of roadway will be improved this summer.

The township continues to face cost increases for materials, Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer explained at the July 10 Board of Trustees meeting.

Regardless, the board approved bids through the Summit County Engineer’s Office totaling about $255,000 so resurfacing can take place this summer on North Sheraton and South Sheraton circles; Thierry Avenue; Naomi Street; LaForce, LaJoy, North Sheraton, South Sheraton, Sheraton, Sheraton Point, Pleasant Valley, Penguin, Darnell, Pamer, South Plaza and Woodview drives; Gregg, Hunting Lodge and Stahl roads; and Woodley Boulevard.

Stouffer said the Road Department has been taking care of storm culvert repairs and other road maintenance needs, which must be done before contractors can begin resurfacing.

“We are behind schedule,” he reported.

Trustee David Calderone explained the Road Department staff has been cut almost in half over recent years as a cost savings measure, and the current employees are swamped with tasks that need completed around the township.

He added the township used to be able to afford the hiring of summer help to assist the Road Department in preparing for the annual road resurfacing program each year.

“We are stretched thin,” Calderone said.

He said Stouffer and his staff are “great” at what they do but are being asked often to perform more work than humanly possible.

“There just is not enough help to get the work done,” Calderone said.

As a result, the board took action on several measures specifically to assist the Road Department.

First, the board changed the job description of the township’s maintenance superintendent for the next few months. His new work schedule will allow him to work with the Road Department as a driver Tuesday through Thursday each week, Calderone explained.

Additionally, the board assigned township administrative assistant Anna Sawhill to the Road Department for the first two hours of each day to address clerical needs, allowing Stouffer more time to work out in the field, Calderone said.

The board also agreed to seek a part-time employee to work Mondays during the summer to conduct cleaning duties at each of the township’s parks at a rate of $12 per hour. Calderone said this will allow regular Road Department personnel to stay on road and ditch projects in the township.

The board additionally approved spending about $8,700 to refurbish the Road Department’s 2001 Caterpiller Loader — as opposed to purchasing a new piece of equipment — also as a cost savings measure, Calderone said.

Also at the meeting, Fire Chief John Dolensky gave a presentation on the 7.75-mill fire and EMS levy the board approved to place before voters in the Nov. 4 General Election. If passed by voters, he said the levy would generate about $1.8 million for the continuation of fire and EMS services in the township.

He said Fire Department revenues have decreased by almost $500,000 in the past five years.

Calderone has reported the reason for the reductions include: the loss of a Federal Emergency Management Agency SAFER Grant, which supported part-time staffing; a reduction in property values; and a significant drop in revenue from the state.

Due to these losses, the board did not replace a full-time vacancy within the department and cut part-time staffing hours by 50 percent, Dolensky explained.

He said approval of the levy would keep the department from having to spend $200,000 each year out of the township’s General Fund to stay in operation.

Calderone has said the approximate $200,000 from the General Fund that once went to the Fire Department could be used by the Road Department to strengthen the resurfacing and ditching program.

[For more on the township’s ballot issue and financial situation, see “Coventry focusing on funding services into future,” in the June 20, 2014, edition or online at www.akron.com.]

The board additionally approved a 2015 Community Development Block Grant application to obtain funding to continue to mitigate flooding in the Cottage Grove subdivision.

Also, Zoning Inspector George Beckham announced the township is taking legal action against the owner of the former White Rhino, 430 Portage Lakes Drive, for making no attempt to address the deteriorating property. Beckham said the lawsuit is the result of failed attempts to get the individual to demolish the structure on his own.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at Coventry Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive.

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