BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Before construction on the “new” Waterville bridge began in June 2018, the Parks and Recreation Committee was creating a vision for two riverfront parks – Memorial Park and Parker Square.
Since the bridge opened in 2020, renovation of the waterfront has been underway with crews clearing out brush along the riverbank while adding an overlook and an open lawn for public events, a paved turnaround and parking lots and a multiuse path under the bridge.
During the January 22 Waterville City Council meeting, council approved the third and final phase of Parker Square, ensuring that work will be done in time for the Saturday, September 28 Roche de Boeuf Festival. However, not all of the items on the project list will be included. Administrator Jon Gochenour said four bids were received for the work, which includes the construction of an entry plaza, electrical upgrades, lighting, masonry entrance piers and signage. The low bidder was Midwest Contracting of Holland, Ohio, with $788,326.40. This amount was still above the engineer’s estimate of $650,000.
Gochenour presented council with three choices: Reject all bids and rebid the project, which would lengthen the construction timeline beyond this year; “non-perform” some of the bid items to bring the construction cost down under $650,000; or approve a legal expenditure of up to 20 percent over the bid estimate, which would be $778,674.
Council agreed to approve a legal expenditure of 20 percent over the estimate, in order to reduce the number of items that would need to be removed from the project.
“We have a great riverfront. I’m inclined to get as much done as possible,” said Mayor Tim Pedro.
Anthony Bruno, the council rep to the Parks and Recreation Committee, said he isn’t interested in reducing the scope of the project.
“I want it to be done right from the beginning. It’s only going to become more expensive to do,” he said.
Council member Anthony Garver agreed.
“I think this is going to be a signature piece for Waterville. I’m sure the citizens would like to see this done,” he said.
Removing 10 benches from the project would lower the cost of the project to fit within the new scope of $778,674, and those could be added into the budget for next year, Gochenour said. Council member Mary Duncan suggested talking with Waterville Rotary Club, which has expressed interest in contributing to the downtown park. Council member Todd Borowski noted that local businesses might also be interested in sponsoring benches, which will be stored during the winter months.
Council member John Rozic questioned the cost of some of the items on the project list, such as the $25,000 planter.
“That’s a special planter,” he said.
Gochenour said the project isn’t straightforward like a roadway, but requires hiring subcontractors like masons, electricians and landscapers.
With council’s approval of the 20-percent increase, Gochenour said materials can be ordered and construction can be underway by April, with an anticipated August opening.
During the meeting, council also:
• Heard Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife officer supervisor Joshua Zientek answer questions about hunting along and in the Maumee River. Hunting is not permitted within city limits, according to section 505.11 of the city code, Gochenour said.
• Discussed the Fallen Timbers Family Recreation Club’s plans to renovate its pool house and entryway, funded in part by $275,000 in the state budget. In order to use state funding, the private club will open to the public for specific hours. Construction is planned for this fall, according to club president Matt Pfleghaar.
• Heard that a shared use path on the Anthony Wayne Trail between Mechanic Street and Canal Road will be constructed later this year with a $295,000 grant. The city is considering adding a turn lane on Waterville Monclova Road between Pray Boulevard and S.R. 64 in 2025.
• Heard that the fire department had 1,163 calls for service in 2023, including 989 EMS and 174 fire calls.
• Discussed the upcoming changeover of Advanced Life Support (ALS) responsibility from the county to each municipality. The city will receive $400,000 as part of a proposed three-year contract that council will review next month. Fire Chief Doug Meyer said the city will need to figure out how to handle the growing EMS volume that often includes a need for two medic units to be out at once.
• Agreed to postpone until the next meeting a vote on the 2024 annual appropriations, in order for staff to finalize the revenue and expenditure balances from 2023 and make adjustments to the budget.
• Heard that the city’s prosecutor, Kati Tharp, plans to step down from the position next month, but plans to remain in the role of assistant law director, filling in when Law Director Phil Dombey is absent. In three resolutions, council approved hiring attorney Austin Klapp as prosecutor at $150 an hour; a contract with Tharp as assistant law director at $150 an hour; and a contract with Dombey at $200 an hour. Dombey has been paid $150 an hour since 2015. Pedro noted that some cities have a full-time law director on staff but Waterville contracts out that work, which he sees as a savings.