Avon Growth News, 11-1-99 to 11-19-99

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11-10-99 Parks Progress
11-10-99 Shaun Brady: Economic development No. 1
11-11-99 Minor league baseball team
11-19-99 New ball fields for Avon

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EDITORIAL from The Morning Journal, Wed, Nov 10, 1999

"Partnerships make Metro Parks flourish

Quietly, and without much fanfare, the Lorain County Metro Parks have been accomplishing some wonderful things within the county. In the past few years, the county park system has expanded greatly. The recently-opened 309-acre Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville is only a precursor to new parks in Amherst, Avon, Oberlin and Columbia Township ...

The Sandy Ridge Reservation was accomplished through a partnership with builders who contributed $1.5 million by buying wetland credits. Couple that money and grants, and Metro Parks only spent $300,000 of the $2.1 million needed to develop the Sandy Ridge Reservation. It is a showplace of a wetlands environment and a hardwood forest and what [Park Director] Martin calls the best bird-watching site in the county ...

In Avon, through the generosity of property owner Buddy Miller, the park district has 49 acres off SR 83, and another 8 acres of Miller's homestead will eventually come to the park district. The park district is still in the hunt for 50 acres to complement the property.

In an area that is experiencing tremendous commercial and residential growth, the Miller property will seem like an oasis. Martin, who has helped with the planning of bike trails in the Avon-Avon Lake area, sees the Miller property becoming the focal point of a northeast bike loop from Avon Lake to North Ridgeville and back ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS, 11-10-99, By Bud Henderson

Brady: Economic development No. 1

By Bud Henderson

"Going into this year's council race, Shaun Brady said he had just one goal.

"Don't finish fourth."

He didn't. In fact, his second term on council will be served as council president, a responsibility he accepts with enthusiasm.

"I really believe we have an outstanding team on council now," he said.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge. We have a diverse group of people with a lot to bring to the table."

According to Avon charter, the top vote-getter in the at-large race becomes council president, unless he or she declines.

Brady has accepted.

In one of the closest elections in years, Brady finished first, followed by JoAnne Easterday, and Tom Wearsch. David Mast was fourth by the slim margin of five votes, and the odd-man-out, since the four were running for three seats.

In a mild upset, Ward 3 councilperson Shirley Doss was beaten by Tim Nickum. With Doss' defeat and councilmen Ted Graczyk and Mike McDonough not running, that means three new faces on council.

"I couldn't ask for better people to work with," Brady said.

He also complimented all the candidates for running a "clean and aggressive campaign."

Brady, the lone member of council to vote against last year's failed recall of Councilman Jack Kilroy, has a strong tendency to stand up for what he thinks is right, even if it isn't popular sometimes.

"I know some people think I'm a rebel sometimes," he said. "But that's just my values. I always try to do what I believe is the right thing."

He said economic development is the number one priority facing the new council.

"We need to continue in the direction we have taken in adding industry, commercial, office and residential growth.

"And by far, our top priority is the Jacobs project, Avon Vista." ... He said a traffic study is now underway by the Jacobs group. "When we get the results of that study, we'll go from there", he said.

"We're not in a rush. With Avon Commons going up, we have plenty of commercial development. I'm not sure we need more. That's something we will have to take a hard look at."

He said he has two other goals.

"I want council to stick to the legislative function, not try to micro-manage the whole city; and I want no more personal dissension on council. We need to attack issues, not people."

As far as the "micro-management" tag sometimes applied to council, Brady said, "We have to put good people on our committees and trust their recommendations. The same for planning commission. We may have questions sometimes, but we need to let the experts study things, then trust them for the most part."

He said another big issue facing the city is an electronic one.

"When people talk about infrastructure, they usually mean sewers, roads, etc. But the infrastructure of the 2000s will be high-speed internet access. It will become more and more important to running an effective business."

He added, "We on council must be forward thinkers, not dwell on the past. We are growing and will continue to grow, and we need to be prepared.

"The people are in place who can do that. Now we have to just get it done."

Along with his priorities as council president, Brady also has his priorities in life.

"My priorities in life are family, family, and family. Everything else is second," he said.

Shaun Brady is a young man who has both sets of priorities firmly in his grasp. And those priorities should be more than enough to help him lead Avon City Council into the 2000s.

Brady and the other elected councilmen will officially take office January 1 [2000].

Officials' decisions not bought by Schneider's party

By Bud Henderson

After two years of hard work, court battles, referendums, and financial risk, Mitch Schneider's Avon Commons dream became a reality.

So he threw a party and invited everyone who had a hand in the process.

This party was at the legendary Schvitz, an exclusive, men-only steakhouse and sauna on Cleveland's East Side.

And Avon Mayor Jim Smith, among other city officials, attended.

It seemed like a harmless night of fun, food and relaxation at a place few people who don't own private jets will ever see.

But now Smith, faced with adverse publicity, is confused.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me," he said.

"I mean, Joe DiMaggio used to go there."

Answering questions about a possible conflict of interest, the energetic mayor who's drive for economic development is almost an obsession, said simply, "No way. No how."

He said, along with a great meal and the club's amenities, all he did was "listen to some great minds discussing great things.

"If we could hire some of the people who were there to help us out for a while, there's no limit as to what we could accomplish. There were big-time lawyers, architects...people like that ...

He added, "You know me. I'm a talker. But there, I just listened." ...

He said, "It was a great evening, one I'll remember for a long time.

"Maybe, in retrospect, the perception of some people might have made it a borderline decision from a political standpoint.

"But you know what, if I had the same choice today, I'd do it again."

Although some officials expressed reservations about city officials attending similar parties, two recently elected Avon councilpersons didn't share that view.

JoAnne Easterday, who finished second in the at-large race, just laughed at the whole affair.

"These people worked very hard for a long time on this project," she said. "When it was over, the boys threw a party. So what!"

She added, "We were all at the groundbreaking on Thursday. We shook hands with Mitch and ate free donuts. Is that any different? Jim paid his own way, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it." ...

Ward 3 council seat winner Tim Nickum pretty much echoed those statements.

"No one can question Jim Smith's integrity. He has done a fantastic job for the City of Avon. He paid his own way and he was entitled to a little bit of fun and relaxation. Those who have any questions don't know him very well."

Smith said the $50 steak dinner was "the best I've ever had. And yes, I paid for it ...

He added, "There was no talk about Avon or Avon Commons. But there were people there who might want to do business in Avon in the future. And I met some of them.

"I think it was a fantastic evening."

This Bud's For You, By Bud Henderson

11-10-99

When does sensitivity become paranoia?

... The party, thrown by Avon Commons developer Mitch Schneider, happened to be at a place called the Schvitz, on Cleveland's east side.

It's a steakhouse and sauna, and one of the last of the exclusive men's clubs allowed to exist, thanks to feminist paranoia and weak-kneed beauracrats ...

There are times when it's obvious that politicians and other officials need to back off.

Planning Commission Chairman Jim Piazza abstained on all matters pertaining to Avon Commons, and rightfully so, since he sold land to the developer.

Councilman Shaun Brady abstained from involvement in a project of his own next to city hall.

But Piazza and other officials are more and more concerned about public perception when they make decisions involving neighbors, or friends, or colleagues.

As Jim Smith said, "Avon is still a small town. We know just about everybody. If we backed off from decisions involving everyone we knew personally, we wouldn't make any decisions."

Newly-elected council president Shaun Brady, who's policy is "never accept anything from anybody," sees the paranoia creeping into city offices.

"There's a good point there, that we can't abstain from too many decisions simply because we know the people involved. If that happens, we as elected officials don't serve any purpose.

"But I believe we have to be extremely cautious that we don't go over the line into real conflict of interest."

Piazza, certainly one of the most respected officials in Avon, understands the problem, but isn't sure of the solution.

"Many times, perception becomes reality to the public. Maybe we carry it too far sometimes, but we always have to be aware of that obligation to avoid conflict of interest."

It's sometimes very hard to have the courage of your convictions when you're facing an election or a reappointment ...

Jim Smith is a fine mayor.

But More than that, he's a fine person.

I'm glad he had a great time at that party.

He deserves it.

My only complaint is that I wasn't invited.

On the other hand, I don't look that good in a towel.

Community Pulse and Opinion, By R.J. Hemmer, 11-10-99

... it doesn't just take a bike path, justice center or a fishing pier to drop from the voters' favor. Just ask Brooklyn, Ohio's Mayor John M. Coyne. He ran that community as if it were his own fiefdom for 52 years. He has reportedly held the mayor's seat longer then any other mayor in the United States.

Why did he get dumped?

How many of you own cell phones? Well if you drive through Brooklyn and you're on the phone, you will be awarded a $100 citation for violating that city's "no talk while you drive" law. Speculation is Coyne irritated enough cell phone users that they decided to show him the door ...

In Avon ... Brady ended up on top with the most votes, 1,461 while the lone man out was David Mast with 1,349. Brady's top finish will make him new council president. I'll bet Ted Graczyk is having a cow over that ...

As I indicated Brady took the most votes. Avon residents are starting to catch on to this guy. He's friendly and very approachable.

This group are hard workers that should represent their community in a manner they should find above and beyond.

Ward III incumbent Shirley Doss lost her council seat by only 24 votes. Tim Nickum gathered 414 votes while Doss picked up 390 ... Tim Nickum has worked hard and prepared himself for his new job. He's attended many council meetings and is up on the issues.

The Avon $8 million bond issue for a new elementary school was given a thumbs up. Not by much though. Hey, even horse races are won by a nose. The final count was 1,365 yes and 1,214 no, success by only 151 votes ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 11-11-99, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"Ballfield location a big hit: SR611 & Miller Road site in Avon proposed

AVON -- The independent minor league baseball team officials hope to bring to Lorain County will likely be headed to the site of a former fly ash dump at Miller Road and SR 611, Avon Mayor Jim Smith said yesterday.

Confirming speculation circulating around town since news broke that a minor league baseball team was looking at Lorain County, Smith said the 44-acre site is the location the city has proposed to bring a Class A professional team to Avon.

'I think this is the best site in the city, no doubt about it,' Smith said. 'This is the place where we can make this project work.'

To date, Avon's proposal is the only one from any city in the area, said Ken Wilson, spokesman for MidWest Sports Ventures, the St. Louis-based company hoping to build a 3,500 seat stadium and provide a team to play there.

'The mayor has given us a very aggressive preliminary proposal regarding a site,' Wilson said. 'I'm very impressed that any community would be so positive and so aggressive.'

North Ridgeville, the other Lorain County option, has yet to submit a proposal, Wilson said.

'They've talked to us,' he said. 'But we need to see what they have in mind. The stadium and the stadium site is the real issue.'

Wilson said his company has determined there is sufficient interest in the area for a team, but it must be sure to choose the best possible site within that area.

'We need to make sure we compare apples to apples,' he said.

In addition to waiting for word from North Ridgeville, a community in 'western Cleveland' has indicated interest, Wilson said, declining to elaborate further.

Smith's proposed site was long considered unusable land because of its history as a fly ash dump. After dirt was gouged from the area to elevate the nearby I-90 interchange many years ago, the Cleveland Electric and Illuminating Co. used the resulting 25-acre lake that formed as a dump for fly ash from coal burned at its Avon Lake plant.

After filling the 18-foot-deep gorge with fly ash, CEI covered it with a few feet of dirt and donated it to the city.

With construction of a bridge and a road, estimated at about $750,000, the site could be perfect for a baseball field, Smith said.

Smith envisions 20 acres of the site for the baseball stadium and the other 20 acres for a garden recycling center.

Negotiations are under way with a Cleveland-based garden store and composting center, Smith said. The proposal would have that company work with Midwest Sports Ventures to fund the pricey improvements in exchange for a land lease from the city for a nominal fee, Smith said ...

The recycling center would allow Avon to offer leaf pick-up for the first time, Smith said, so long as a vacuum truck could be purchased ..."

For more information: Frontier League

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM, 11-12-99, By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"AVON -- Mayor James Smith is pushing hard to convince a minor league baseball team to make Avon its home.

North Ridgeville Mayor Deanna Hill is doing the same for her community, but both mayors are competing with Strongsville city officials, Hill said.

This month, Smith proposed that Midwest Sports Venture in St. Louis build a 6,000-seat brick stadium on property just south of state Route 611 and north of Interstate 90.

He said the stadium could become a community center of sorts, where high school championship games could be played as well as other events, such as flower and garden shows, soccer games and concerts.

map
Proposed baseball park at I-90 and SR-611
NORTH is at the top of the map.

The site, which lies just south of the French Creek behind the Speedway gas station on state Route 611, was once a fly ash dump used by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. ...

"We're looking for an outlying urban area where there is a lot of new housing,'' he said. "There's not much entertainment in those areas. There should more available than movies.''

Wilson said an ideal site is about 25 miles west of Cleveland with good highway access. Sheffield had also been considered, said Sheffield Mayor Darlene Ondercin, but there were no site suitable.

Wilson said he hoped to choose a site by this month, but city officials in the two remaining communities have yet to propose specific sites.

The Avon site was initially proposed for youth baseball diamonds and a leaf recycling center, Smith said. Either way, a bridge will need to be constructed across the French creek to access the property.

Smith said the bridge will cost about $400,000. If Avon is chosen for the minor-league team, Midwest Sports would help fund the new bridge, he said."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 11-19-99, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer

"New ball fields for Avon

AVON -- Five new baseball fields are slated for Avon's Detroit Road park, a $400,000 undertaking clearing the way for a possible swimming pool or recreation center in the future, officials said.

While still waiting for final approval from City Council, Avon's Parks and Recreation Commission has the money and is prepared to move forward with the ball diamonds as soon as possible, park board member David Mast said.

'We'll have five real ballfields with backstops and fences, as well as three to four T-ball fields,' Mast said. 'We're making the pledge to have every one of them playable in 2001.'

The town's future baseball center is now 62 acres of undeveloped field and forest on Detroit Road, west of Long Road backing south to the Camelot subdivision.

The $400,000 will cover drainage, five diamonds and a service road. Real bathrooms are unlikely, Mast said.

Avon's little league currently uses three fields behind the fire and police complex on Detroit Road. Moving the baseball fields to the new park will free up the space for a possible swimming pool or recreation center, as well as additions to the fire station if the department moves to full time, Mast said.

Although a pool is not in the planning stages yet, the Parks Commission also approved $14,900 for an exploratory committee and preliminary engineering to start the process, Mast said.

Mayor Jim Smith said he supported the initiative, even though a pool will probably require voters to approve some type of tax levy.

When the city distributed a survey of residents' recreational needs, a pool was the number one priority, Smith said ...

The money to pay for the costly baseball fields comes from 'park-impact fees' -- the $635 added to the cost of each new home constructed to fund lasting park improvements, Smith said.

The fund currently has a balance of about $338,000, Mast said. Park projects are also funded partially through grants and the city's parks levy, which contributes about $80,000 annually."

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