Are you ready for a new city hall?
By Doug Lindner
SOLON– Are the residents of Solon ready to support the vision of the current city council?
We’ll find out Tuesday, Nov. 8, when voters will be asked to authorize the purchase of the Brosh Chapel and Community Center for use as a new city hall.
It’s the $1.35 million question of the year, and if recent city election turnouts are any indication, it will be decided by less than 200 people.
Most members of the Solon City Council and Mayor Rick Jedlicka see the Brosh building as an ideal situation– perfectly suited for the purpose and likely to last decades– at a reasonable price. It would be a Main Street presence, it has a lower level full of possibilities and the parking lot across the street is part of the deal.
While there’s no formal opposition to the bond issue, which appears on the same ballot as a single contested council seat, there have been questions and a sprinkling of criticism.
The city distributed a brochure, hosted an open house at the suggested Cedar Street location and sponsored a monthly meal at the Old Gold Diner.
A final informational session on the ballot issue will be held Wednesday, Nov. 2 (tonight), at 7 p.m. at the Solon Public Library.
The library was actually one of the sites considered by the council earlier in the year. The city council has been discussing a new city hall since spring, when Brosh owner Matt Linn suggested the possibility. Linn said his business would relocate to a new facility within the community.
Although listed on the city’s Capital Improvements Plan, the city hasn’t set aside any money for the project– it wasn’t anticipated as an expense until the 2014 fiscal year, when an estimated $500,000 for land acquisition had been penciled in.
The current city offices are housed at 223 S. Iowa St. and council meetings are held at the Solon Public Library.
Over the course of several months, the city reviewed other options, touring two other potential locations– the library and 100 W. Main St.– before narrowing it down to 100 S. Cedar St., the Brosh site.
The building, completed in 2003, is being offered to the city for $1.3 million, and included in the purchase price is the parking lot across Cedar Street to the west.
The 4,800 square foot ground level of the Brosh building includes a lobby area, chapel, a small kitchenette and a children’s room, as well as a display room and a deck that extends over the back parking lot to a view of a landscaped pond.
The handicapped-accessible community center on the lower level has an oversized kitchen, a walk-in cooler, and can comfortably seat 250 people.
Under the city’s proposal, the chapel would become the council chambers and the remainder of the upper level would become a conference room and offices with adequate space to accommodate the city’s growth over time.
The lower level would remain a community room, but previous owners Terry and Christine Brosh currently have a long-term lease on that part of the facility, and the city hasn’t approached that discussion yet. Regardless of the lease, the city anticipates being able to use the lower level to expand recreation programs.
At an Aug. 3 meeting, council members voted to move forward with the purchase of Brosh location, contingent on voter approval of a bond issue on the November general election ballot.
Approximately $26,000 in bonding expenses was added into the bond issue, as well as $24,000 for furnishings, equipment and other associated moving costs.
Council members approved the language for the bond issue during the Sept. 14 meeting, and also decided on a 65/35 split for repaying the 12-year bond through Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money and the city’s debt service levy.
The increase in the debt service levy will mean an additional $27.31 a year in taxes for a home assessed at $100,000, according to figures provided by the city. The amount would then decrease each year.