Reynoldsburg News

Officials wary of spending more on senior center lot

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A tie-breaking vote by Reynoldsburg City Council President Doug Joseph at Monday's finance committee meeting means officials may have to come up with a Plan B for repaving the senior center parking lot.

Parks and Recreation Director Joe Brown secured an $80,138 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in May 2013 to repair the lot with mostly "green" sustainable material. In order to accept the EPA grant, the city would have to pay for 40 percent of the project's cost. Based on an EPA estimate prepared last year before the project was bid, that would be $53,426.

Brown said that amount is already in this year's Parks and Recreation budget. However, the contractor's cost estimates are higher than the EPA estimate of $133,564, so on Monday, May 19, Brown and Chris Ruggles, from Strand & Associates, the engineering firm secured for the project, asked council to appropriate $11,722.52 more for the project -- $5,044.52 to help pay the contractor and $6,678 for a contingency fund.

The additional money requested Monday would increase the city's share to $65,148.52.

"The entire project is still cheaper than paving a regular parking lot," Brown said. "The parking lot is in dire need of repair and reports of senior citizens falling in the lot are continuing."

The project includes resurfacing 17,025 square feet of the existing parking lot at the senior center, 1520 Davidson Ave., along with rerouting storm drains and creating areas of permeable pavement to allow rainwater to pass through.

Brown said the city would have until late fall to complete the work.

Finance committee Chairman Barth Cotner made a motion to authorize drafting the appropriation into legislation to be sent to the next full council meeting, with a recommendation for approval as an emergency.

He, Chris Long and Dan Skinner voted in favor of having the ordinance prepared and sent on to the full council for a vote, while Scott Barrett, Mel Clemens and Cornelius McGrady III voted against it.

Joseph broke the tie with a "no" vote.

Barrett said other areas of the city need attention.

"We have no shortage of things that need to be replaced and from a priority standpoint that might not be the best one right now," he said.

He also said Brown should have gotten more than one bid.

Ruggles said the city sought bids for the project twice.

"The first time we got three bids that were too high, so we went back and readjusted the scope of the project," he said. "We reduced the permeable paved area to the minimum that could still be funded by the grant."

He said only one bid -- from Architectural Gardens Inc. -- came in the second time the project was bid, and it was for more than the estimate.

Cotner said he thought the project was a good idea.

"It is money we already put into the budget and it is something we can do now," he said.

Brown said Tuesday, May 20, that he was "extremely disappointed in our council."

He said there are many local communities capitalizing on EPA grants to improve their city infrastructure.

"It's really too bad that our council let this go last night," he said. "This was a great opportunity to improve a specific area of our park system.

"There are pages of capital improvements that need to be done and should be done, but we cannot execute them because of our revenue problems. This is one that could and should have been completed."

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