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Council OKs contract for Central Park design

3/27/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

GREEN — Green City Council approved March 25 a $485,000 contract to Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment Inc., also known as OHM Advisors, for design and bidding and construction services for the proposed Central Park.

 

OHM also may bill the city for reimbursable expenses, according to the contract.

 

Currently being called Central Park, the proposed park would be constructed on 10 acres of property that runs between the Central Administration Building (CAB) and Steese Road, with the two main vehicular entrances located at Town Park Boulevard and off of Steese Road.

 

Mayor Dick Norton said planning for the park would take about a year. He said he anticipated the bidding process to take another three months once the plan is finalized. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2015 and could be completed as early as summer 2016, Norton said.

 

Construction costs for the Central Park are estimated at $5 million, officials said. The city already has paid OHM $27,000 to help develop the park concept, officials said.

 

OHM is located in Gahanna, just outside Columbus. OHM Director of Planning and Urban Design Tony Slanec said local engineering firms would be used for portions of the planning process.

 

Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said the city hosted two meetings for citizen input and sent surveys to 3,000 residents. About 60 residents attended the meetings and the city received 242 responses to the survey, Wiethe said.

 

Overall, Wiethe said, citizen feedback on the project was very positive and the project has unanimous support of the city park board. Wiethe said chief concerns about the project were potential noise from events at the park’s amphitheater, increased traffic and parking. Some residents expressed interest in a place to walk their dogs, he added.

 

Council President Gerard Neugebauer (at large) asked Slanec about possible costs to mitigate wetlands at the park site. Slanec said construction costs included funds for creation of ponds as well as $100,000 for possible wetlands mitigation. Slanec said he had a “high level of confidence” the project will be under budget.

 

The contract with OHM omits plans for a parking lot to be shared with the Green Memorial Stadium. Norton said the school district was not ready to commit to stadium improvements that would go hand-in-hand with the parking lot.

 

Plans for Central Park include a walking path, water features, a traditional playground, a raised sensory garden, a splash pad wet play area, an amphitheater and shaded seating. The plan also includes a pavilion plaza with concession stand, restrooms and space for a farmers’ market. In the winter, the plaza could be flooded for ice skating, Norton said during his January State of the City Address.

 

Operating expenses for the completed park are projected to be about $99,000 per year. Service Director Randall Monteith said actual expenses could be less since projections for the most expensive park feature, the splash pads, was based on full operation each day of summer. Monteith said weather will curtail operation of the splash pads on some days.

 

[For more on Central Park, see related story, “City outlines plans for Central Park,” in the March 20, 2014, issue, or visit the archives at www.akron.com.]

 

Also during the meeting, Council held a public hearing on a proposal to amend the development plan for a 23-acre parcel south of Graybill Road and east of Massillon Road. The amendment would allow inclusion of a 180-unit apartment complex on the eastern portion of the parcel. The Grove Villas of Green were described by Terry Bailey, principal with Foremost Development Co. of Birmingham, Mich., as “ultra luxury” units featuring granite countertops, plank flooring and stainless steel appliances. The development would be 70 percent one-bedroom units targeted for young professionals who could walk to work at nearby hospital facilities and empty nesters, Bailey said. Rents would start at $975 per month, he said.

 

Norton said the city’s rental housing stock is aging and there is a demand for new rental units.

 

Owners of neighboring property along Graybill Road spoke against approving the project, citing increased traffic and the unsuitability of high density housing for the neighborhood.

 

Norton said the project is an important part of the Massillon Road corridor development.

 

The already approved portion of the project fronts Massillon Road and consists of retail, restaurant and office space in multiple buildings.

 

Council could vote to amend the development plan at its next meeting.

 

In other action, Council approved replats of Mystic Pointe subdivision and Willadale Acres subdivision. In each case, the new plat combines multiple lots into one lot for construction of a single-family home, officials said.

 

Council will meet April 8 for its next regular meeting, starting with committee meetings at 5 p.m. and the Council meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the CAB, 1755 Town Park Blvd.

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