June 28, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Medina mayor, Council differ on number of public toilets square needs

The price to transform the Key Bank Drive-through on Medina’s Public Square into a public restroom has nearly doubled since the city bought the building, according to bid estimates for the project.

On Monday, City Council approved $100,000 more on top of the original $250,000 originally approved on July 25.

Officials initially estimated the cost of the renovations to be about $180,000 when the city bought the building a year ago for $317,199.

Council members voted 6-1 to approve the increase by $100,000 after the lowest bid on the restroom project came in at $350,000 from Selinksy Force, a North Canton construction firm.

City Service Director Nino Piccoli said another factor contributing to the increase was Council’s requirement that the project be completed in time for the Candlelight Walk in November.

Councilman Mark Kolesar, Ward 3, voted against the increase.

“I think we need to bring the price down a bit,” he said. “There is a need there, but I think we need to take a step back and analyze the cost.”

Council took no action on a suggestion to the Finance Committee from Mayor Dennis Hanwell to reduce the number of toilets from 10 to five in both the men’s and women’s restrooms.

Hanwell said he watched traffic to and from six portable toilets during the International Fest on Saturday and did not see the need for the 20 toilets proposed for the building.

“I did not see people standing or waiting in line on Saturday,” he said.

Hanwell told the committee if there were only five toilets on each side of the restroom that the extra $100,000 would not be needed and the city could continue to rent portable toilets for larger events if officials thought restrooms would be overcapacity.

Councilman Jim Shields, Ward 4, disagreed, saying he opposed using portable toilets.

“It looks tacky. It is not the image we want,” he said. “If we go smaller and end up having to bring them in, then why are we doing this in the first place?”

Councilman Bill Lamb, at large, said he has been at events in other areas where restrooms with four of five toilets are adequate for 15,000 to 20,000 people.

Saturday’s International Fest — the largest single-day event in the city — drew an estimated 15,000 people.

But Councilman Dennie Simpson, Ward 2, argued that the city needs to prepare for larger crowds in the future and focus on eliminating the need for portable toilets altogether.

Council President John Coyne said even though the price tag is higher than expected, the restrooms will be an integral part of the square.

“When it is done, I think you will find that it will be important to the development of the square,” he said.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.

Andrew Davis About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis covered Medina city government for The Gazette from January 2014 to May 2015. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.