To spend or not to spend. That was the question Parks member Brad Scholtz had for fellow board members at its Nov. 16 meeting relating to costs of the proposed comfort station at Main Street Beach. The board, after discussion, said the former. Chairman Terry Parker said, “What I’m hearing is that we want to do it right.” Added Parks member Kate Repola, “And we want to do it now…it’s time to have a facility down there that matches what we would like Vermilion to look like and not a porta-potty behind a lighthouse.”
“Here’s the rub,” Scholtz opened during the budget and finance subcommittee of Parks, and distributed copies of a rendering (VPJ Nov. 11) of the facility. “Everything is in there we want, we included the Shore Thing, a lot of input from the community, but even as recently as today, Marc (Weisenberger, parks supervisor) and I met with the contractor and architect again to kind of value engineer as best we could to get down close to the budget. And we’re just not going to get there as it’s drawn.” Scholtz said as drawn, it is “pretty far out from the budget. And it definitely would exceed any contingencies we would be able to put in there.” Scholtz said he was looking for guidance from the board to make it to the budget.
He said the drawing could take out the Shore Thing piece, but he said the group is valuable to the city and acts as a welcome center. However, he said the architect and contractor think shrinking the building still will not get the building to budget. Scholtz said it is a matter of simply keeping the building functional vs. making it something “a little bit more amazing.” Repola said it is a matter of finding more funds to create what the subcommittee put forth, or “we kind of go back to the drawing board to a smaller, scaled down comfort station, similar to what we have at Exchange.”
Chairman Parker said the project is now being hit with the current cost of building materials, such as siding. “Siding materials have gone up 40 percent,” said Parker. “We’ve been working on this budget for a couple of years, and all of the sudden, things are just going up. The longer we wait, the more they are going to go up at this point.” Board member Jeff Keck asked about the amount of money they would need or are over budget. Scholtz said about $75,000 to $100,000 over budget at this point, short of “cheaping it up.”
“It’s a pretty solid plan, but it’s definitely not final,” said Scholtz. “It’s something we can use to go out and do more public and private fundraising.” Service Director Tony Valerius asked to put his two cents in, as he put it. “Parks Board has been meeting for years. We’ve been working on this for years. We’re going to do this one time. I feel it should be what we want. It’s probably going to cost a little more money. You also have to remember how much money we saved in taking down the museum and the Wakefield Mansion. I still think we’re ahead if we allocate more money to getting what we want and what we really need down there…this park is only going to grow. You’re only going to get more people down there every year. And I think you’re going to need a facility to accommodate all the people.”
Mayor Jim Forthofer said some of the natura; limitations of this building due to the grants the city received said there is only so much pervious space the city is allowed to occupy. He said it is limited to about 1,000 feet at any point. “So, it’s never going to be very big.” He said the Parks Board can trim a little. “But you just have to go fish for more money. You can’t minimize this beyond its functional use.” The mayor added, “It doesn’t have to be the Taj Mahal, you’re nowhere near that. You want it to be a functional, comfortable station.” Parker asked about the current square footage. Scholtz said the project is well within the parameters of the grants, even with the lift station. He said that includes the current lift station. It is below 1,000 square feet.
Dana Corogin of Vermilion in Bloom said the organization is interested in getting grant money from the Lorain County Community Foundation of $30,000 to pay for the landscaping around the building. She said she did not know where that money was going to come from, but she said if that money would give the board money to put toward the comfort station, it would come from a different pocket. Scholtz said “It helps.” Parker said another thing that is part of the plan in the portion presented to council last week is pervious pavers. “This will hopefully retard the flow of water.” Valerius said it would help the stormwater quality and quantity.
Scholtz announced that Parks is the recipient of a NatureWorks grant of $40,000 “which is a huge boost.” He said the city should be closing on the Stuchal property in the next week or so. He said the house is scheduled to be razed in mid-December. Scholtz said the Erie MetroParks has stepped up financially. He said they participated in the Parks subcommittee and are helping the board financially with the closing of the Stuchal house. Also, a meeting with the Public Art committee from Main Street was scheduled for this week.
Preliminary numbers for the parking lot are within budget, he reported. “We’re just south of the budget.”
“When you look at the rendering Mark Wagner did, it definitely gets you excited,” said Scholtz. Board members agreed they would be willing to put more money in to get to what the rendering is. Scholtz said he would continue to focus in on the numbers to see how the budget shakes out. He said they should have more idea in January. Valerius said as far as the sidewalks, the project will have to bump them eight feet from where they currently are.
Parker said Western Reserve Land Conservancy is going back to the State of Ohio for capital budget money, and the city did get $75,000. Board member Bill Warden said the federal infrastructure bill may offer opportunities for this as well. The mayor said he was waiting for his call from Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. The mayor said they will have see what strings are attached to the money, just like any other project.