Solon council accepts Bull House interior renovation proposal

SOLON, Ohio — City Council has accepted a proposal from Regency Construction Services to redevelop the basement and first floor of the city-owned Bull House at 34045 Bainbridge Road.

On Tuesday (January 18), the council voted 6 to 1 to go ahead with the interior renovation. Ward 2 Councilman Robert Pelunis cast the dissenting vote.

The construction cost was estimated at $279,874, including a contingency of $20,000 for “unforeseen problems,” the order says.

Pelunis, a member of the council’s safety and public properties committee, said he also voted “no” when that committee recommended the council approve the proposal on Jan. 11.

“What happened with this project is that we spent about $225,000 to buy the house, and we made commitments to the previous owner at that time,” he said. declared. “We did some landscaping; we did a lot of other work.

“Now we are being asked to invest $280,000 inside the property. We do this under the Sourcewell contract.

The renovation project is being carried out through Sourcewell’s Cooperative Purchasing Program, which allows for joint contracting through a national or state association of political subdivisions.

“We might be able to get a better deal by bidding on it,” Pelunis said. “A lot of times we’ve seen…we get better deals by making offers.

“I don’t think there was anything to be gained by not waiting a few weeks and going to make an offer. By the time we’re done with everything here, we’ll have (put) over $900,000 into this property, and everything in it is basically new, so it’s not really historic anymore.

The Bull House, named after the city’s co-founder Lorenzo Solon Bull, is considered the oldest property in the city. It was built in the 1830s.

In April 2020, council had approved a proposal for Regency Construction, of Brook Park, to renovate both the interior and exterior of the historic home.

But in May 2020, city officials determined that only the exterior of the house needed to be renovated at that time, due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The council then approved a revised ordinance to renovate the exterior and do “only the necessary interior construction”.

“I know we’ve used (Regency Construction) in the past and had no issues with them,” Pelunis said. “But I think the best practice is to reassess it and see if we can achieve greater savings by having the interior done by another party.”

Ward 3 Councilman Jeremy Zelwin, also a member of the Public Safety and Property Committee, said at the January 11 committee meeting that Public Works Commissioner William Drsek “was able to bridge the gap” between this initial estimate for the project in 2020″ to why (the cost) has increased over the past two years.

“There are several reasons for this, (like) the inflationary impact, not only with the cost of materials but also with employee wages,” Zelwin said. “Mr. Drsek was able to quantify this and felt that the rate we are being charged – although it is an extraordinary amount of money to invest in this house – is reasonable.

“The contractor we selected (Regency) has done many projects around the city, including the exterior of the house (Bull), the fire station and the gazebo outside the senior center. did an exemplary job and we heard great things.

Zelwin added that he voted in favor of the proposal at the committee meeting “based on the additional cost not only from a time perspective to city employees, but also the potential for worsening the inflation and price increases for the next two or three months that it will take to revive the project.

Ward 7 Councilman Bill Russo, who chairs the Public Safety and Property Committee, said he agreed with Zelwin. He also noted that the plan calls for the property to be used for programming at the Solon Center for the Arts, located across the street at 6315 SOM Center Road.

“I think that’s important too,” Russo said. “We want to move this thing forward so they can get the programming they were looking to do in the Bull house.

“So it’s not like we just put money in a house and it won’t be used. It will be used by the public.

Vice Mayor and Ward 5 Councilor Nancy Meany said she understands what Pelunis is saying, but her concern, “with our current world, is to bring someone in and follow through and do things. “.

“We’re dealing with someone who’s done work on the house before,” she says. “It’s kinda hard to swallow, but it is what it is.

“We made a commitment and we have to keep moving forward. We need to fix it so it can be used by the public. That’s definitely my goal.

Meany added: “This is probably a slightly unusual renovation, and I don’t know how many companies would even want to tackle something like this. I don’t like it, but I would agree with the Security and Public Property Committee.

Ward 1 Councilor Macke Bentley said he also understood Pelunis’ concerns.

“But they are proven professionals that we have used in the past,” he said. “I think we can just go ahead and get things done.

“Our responsibility is to make it a pleasant place. We can’t cut corners on that to get it right. So I think we really should.

Mayor Ed Kraus thanked council for approving the proposal.

“As Bill (Russo) said, it’s going to be used by the arts center, but it’s also a huge element in the future of Bicentennial Park,” he said.

On January 6, the council authorized Kraus to apply to the Cuyahoga County Department of Development for a grant that would allow the city to begin work on the Bicentennial Park site, located on Bainbridge Road between the Bull House and the Solon Historical Society. .

Ashley Holloway, the town’s director of planning and community development, said some of the grant money could be used to renovate the interior of the Bull House, which could be used for events.

Contracts with police unions

In another action, the council passed separate ordinances authorizing the mayor to enter into labor agreements with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for sergeants, lieutenants and patrolmen.

Both contracts are in effect from January 1 to December 31, 2024.

In both cases, the police unions agreed to wage increases of 2.25% in 2022 and 2023 and 2.5% in 2024.

Regarding health insurance, the two parties have agreed to increase the share of employee contributions from 5% to 8% of the COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) rate.

“It was an absolute pleasure negotiating the contract with the patrol officers and the sergeants and lieutenants,” Kraus said.

Data from 2021; goals for 2022

Holloway provided city planning department statistics for the past year and spoke about the department’s major plans for this year.

He said 640 building permits were submitted to the city in 2021. Of that total, 195 were residential permits and 445 were non-residential — meaning commercial, industrial and educational.

In addition, 51 occupancy certificates were issued for businesses or buildings to open last year, he said, and 1,211 contractors were registered to work in the city.

For this year, Holloway said the department has three major projects in mind. One is the city’s master plan update, which “certainly will get public notice,” he said.

“We will have to redefine the boundaries of our wards (city council), because according to the 2020 census, the population of Solon has increased, which is a good thing,” he said.

“And we will continue to work with our Solon Connects plan to help make Solon more walkable, mobile and accessible.”

Learn more about the Sorrow Solon Sun.

Betty K. Park