Patrons of City Park may soon have some additional space they can use as a playing field, thanks to a donation of fill dirt from The Collection Auto Group, which is building its Volkswagen dealership on Route 14.
Mayor Glenn Broska said Economic Development Director Sue Truby contacted The Collection Auto Group Owner Bernie Moreno to see if the business could help with the approximate $17,000 cost of moving the dirt to a low-lying grass area about an acre in size at the park and grading it so it could be used for athletics or other activities.
Moreno said he was happy to have an opportunity to help and offered to contribute the entire cost.
"We firmly believe in the idea that we have a moral obligation to support the community," he said. "Streetsboro is going to be a very important community to our business."
If the city had to bid the project out, it could have cost around $140,000 to buy fill, pay to have it moved and then have the fill graded at City Park, according to city officials.
The area that will get the fill is a low-lying wet area of grass located between Baseball Field No. 7 and the cluster of four ballfields just south of Field No. 7. Broska said the plan is to remove about 6 inches of topsoil, add the fill, grade and crown it so it sheds rain water, and then add the topsoil back on and plant grass.
Broska said once the fill is in place, he plans to send a plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission asking to use an area of about 3 acres between the drive to the back baseball fields and the Campus Elementary School parking lot as athletic fields, which could accommodate soccer and a variety of other activities, as well. Currently the 1-acre area that will get the fill is too wet to be used as an athletic field, he explained.
Broska announced the plan during City Council's May 19 meeting, saying soccer fields would likely be one of the uses.
"It will eventually give the soccer people two parking lots, two sets of restroom facilities and a concessions stand," Broska said during the meeting.
Broska said all that's required to add the fill and grade the field is a grade and fill permit, which he said the city obtained, but City Council member Jeff Allen disagrees.
"This project does not follow the current city Parks Master Plan," Allen stated in a May 21 memo to Law Director David Maistros.
In the memo, Allen quotes the Parks Master Plan, which states "three youth soccer fields are planned north of the creek to alleviate pressure on the existing baseball fields."
Allen also claimed Broska is violating a section of the city charter that grants to Planning and Zoning Commission a say over "the preparation of plans and maps for the future physical development and harmonious improvement of the municipality; the plan, design, location, removal relocation and alteration of any public building or structure and public property; the location, widening, extension and vacation … of parks."
Maistros said adding fill, grading and planting grass on the field does not require an opinion from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"We did consider the charter," he said. "There's nothing in this that triggers the planning commission."
Broska said he's not formally designating the fields for any particular use at this point. To formally designate a use, Broska said the plan will go through the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Broska said the reason for the hurry is that construction at The Collection Auto Group site cannot wait for a decision from the commission on whether the fill can be added.
"We only had about seven days to get this all together, and we only had that long because it rained last week," he said May 22.
Broska also said this does not alter the long-term plan for a soccer complex at Wilcox Park.
"If anything, this would be more or less a temporary measure to help accommodate the soccer clubs in the city," he said.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens