August 21, 2014

Medina
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Brunswick election: City officials vow to fix side streets

BRUNSWICK — City officials are hoping a promise to spend most of proposed levy’s revenue on neighborhood streets will persuade voters to pass the issue this fall.

The 10-year, 1.2 mill levy is on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Pat McNamara

Street Supervisor Pat McNamara has promised 75 percent of the $800,000 the levy would bring in each year would be dedicated to local side streets.

“This plan addresses the most critical areas in each ward,” McNamara told council members at a special session in August.

The remaining $200,000 would go to work on the city’s main thoroughfares like Pearl, Hadcock, Grafton and North Carpenter roads.

McNamara said he hopes that by laying out the plan for how the money will be used, voters will support it.

The city now sets no money aside for roads. McNamara said the reason main streets get the most repair work is because neighborhood streets are not eligible for state grants.

Using Ohio Public works funds, the city has to come up with only 20 percent of a project’s overall cost.

“We go after the grants because we can stretch those dollars further,” he said.

McNamara said it costs about $380,000 to repair one lane-mile of roadwork and $1 million to replace one-lane mile.

“This is why we need a permanent revenue stream for road work,” he said.

“Our streets were built 30 to 40 years ago. They’re in need of reconstruction, not repairs.”

Brunswick city crews repair a concrete panel on Old Eagle Drive on Wednesday morning. If voters approve a road levy in November, $600,000 more dollars will be pumped into neighborhood road repair each year. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

In an effort to support McNamara’s proposal, council members has proposed legislation establishing a fund specifically for street repairs and passing an ordinance outlining the plan that $600,000 annually is to be spent on side streets.

Two resolutions that would set those standards will be up for a first reading at tonight’s council meeting.

The neighborhood plan has gotten nods from some ward council members who were reluctant at first to ask voters for more money. Council members were hesitant to support a levy after voters rejected a 20-year, 2.7 mill tax in 2011 and 2012.

After discussion, members agreed to a reduced request this year with a shorter levy term of only 10 years.

The proposed levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $42 annually.

That works out to be about $3.50 a month, Councilman Mike Abella, Ward 1, said, which “is still a lot of money to some people.”

Abella said he was persuaded to support the levy because he was promised the commitment to spend most of the money on neighborhood streets would mean $150,000 each year for his ward.

“It evenly distributes money so that every resident will see improvements in their neighborhood,” he said. “This levy is the lowest amount we could make it and still have residents see noticeable improvements.”

But not everyone is on board with the plan. Ward 4 Councilman Tony Capretta voted against putting the levy on the ballot and said he still can’t get on board with it.

“That plan should have been presented to me and council and the community a long, long time ago,” he said. “Not having a plan was one of the reasons my residents insisted I vote no on the levy.”

Capretta said he was pleased to see that most of the funding would be dedicated to neighborhood roads, but said he wasn’t sure his constituents would support the levy.

“It’s too little, too late,” he said, adding he would like to see a detailed breakdown with streets to be repaired over the 10 year levy.

“All these people, especially my residents on Basswood Oval, really need their streets repaired. They need to know if their street is on the list,” Capretta said.

McNamara said his office would use a pavement assessment — conducted in 2008 and updated in 2011 — to identify streets to be repaired.
But Capretta said that wasn’t enough.

“I think some residents have made up their minds already,” he said. “Our service director, he could have come up with this plan a lot sooner and I put the blame on him.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at lgenson@medina-gazette.com.