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Council chambers receives electronic upgrades

4/20/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Fairlawn has upgraded the electronic presentation equipment in City Hall’s Council chambers, including the addition of two new 80-inch high-definition televisions and assisted-listening devices.

Christopher Randles, commissioner of Fairlawn’s Zoning, Housing and Residential Building Department, said at the April 17 Council meeting the equipment, which cost “less than $10,000” total, will help with electronic plan submissions for Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission meetings.

“We installed two 80-inch TV monitors so that the audience on each side of the room can see the presentations,” he said. “And then we put four monitors up between every two seats where Council sits. That’s so that our Council and boards can see the same thing that the audience sees.”

Previously, Randles said, the city was using an overhead projector and one screen.

“That’s not ideal,” he said. “The plans aren’t crisp and clear. But with the new equipment, we will be able to project directly from a computer onto high-definition screens. It will be much easier to read them. It’s also part of my plan to go as paperless as possible through our permitting process. It’s easier for folks to now email us a set of plans than it is to send us hard copies. With this, we will be able to eliminate the requirement at our board and commission meetings to have paper copies. We will be able to project everything onto the screens.”

Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large) said the equipment also will be utilized at Council meetings.

“I know they’re going to be a big help for the Planning Commission for plans and drawings and special occasions, but I’m sure there’s some use for Council for these, as well,” he said.

In addition to the visual upgrades, Randles said the city also has installed assisted-listening devices as part of the project.

“Now, folks that can’t hear the audio speakers will have a couple of different options,” he said. “We’ll have some headphones that are connected directly into the audio system. We’ll also have a loop that they put around their neck, and if they have hearing aids that have that technology, it will actually turn their hearing aids on to our sound system. It will project right into their hearing aids.”

The new equipment was installed April 13, Randles said, but it was not available for use at the April 17 City Council meeting.

“It’s not operational yet,” he said. “We had a couple pieces of the electronic equipment that were not talking to each other, so we had to order a new piece of equipment that will be coming in. Hopefully, everything will be operational by the next Council meeting.”

Also during the meeting:

  • Deputy Service Director Ernie Staten said restoration for the FairlawnGig, the city’s municipal fiber optic and carrier grade Wi-Fi project, was getting underway again this week.
    “With the good weather, we will be out topsoiling and, if everything holds out, by the beginning of May we will start seeding behind that topsoil work,” he said.
    Staten said the restoration will follow “in the same sequence” as the installation of the project.
    “There’s a lot of testing and then installs that have to happen, so ... it could be a good month and a half before we’re back to do a restoration,” he said. “We’d like to do it one time only, instead of sending the crews out over and over and over again. That’s the plan. It’s generally about a month and half after the dig happens in front of your home. And basically over the winter, we didn’t do anything because we had no idea what winter was going to bring. But now that spring is here, we will be out full force.”
    According to Sharnsky, the restoration will be “an all-summer project.”
  • Council unanimously approved an ordinance giving the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) consent to replace the Type A anchor assemblies on West Market Street.
    “These are the guardrails on West Market Street directly across the street from Bancroft Road at [Fairlawn Lutheran] Church,” Staten said. “ODOT is changing the guardrail and it’s not costing the city anything.”
  • Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the City of Fairlawn an autism-friendly community as defined by the Autism Society of Greater Akron.
    Fairlawn resident Laurie Cramer, executive director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, and her husband, Gregg, attended the Council meeting to accept a framed copy of the resolution from the city.
  • Fire Chief Russ Hose said the Fairlawn Fire Department is “out checking hydrants throughout the city” during April.
    “You will see them out at different times of day and in the early evenings, usually in a marked city vehicle, but it’s possible that somebody could be in a private vehicle,” he said. “They’ll be stopping in front of the hydrant and just checking them for operation.”

The next Fairlawn City Council meeting is set for May 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road.

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