SOLON– Everyone appreciated the update.
The Solon City Council and the Solon school board met in joint session last week, discussing the long-term potential for shared services and facilities as well as more immediate concerns like raging surface water running through a residential subdivision.
The two governmental bodies shared perspectives on the projected use of the former varsity soccer field (and field use in general), the extreme water run-off problems experienced by Marshek Court residents, traffic flow around Lakeview Elementary and Spartan Stadium, as well as the idea of collaborating on future maintenance projects.
The city and school have worked together on several recent undertakings, including the installation of lights at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area’s (SRNA) parking lot, the construction of Spartan Stadium and the extension of Racine Avenue west of Lakeview Elementary.
During last Monday’s annual meeting between the two groups, those efforts were reviewed and new possibilities were discussed.
Chief on the agenda for the city was the fate of the former varsity soccer field.
In previous discussions, Solon Public Works Director Scott Kleppe said, the city and school broached the possibility of the city reclaiming exclusive use of the field after the construction of the new stadium.
The city would welcome the move, he said emphatically. “We need space for more ball fields,” said Kleppe. “Field space is an absolute premium.”
The city has looked at moving the current youth tackle football field to the soccer field, and using the youth football area for two additional ball diamonds, he said.
The city’s recreation program for softball and baseball registered over 350 children this year, he said, and the city gets requests for field use from 13 traveling youth teams not affiliated with the city.
“We just can’t accommodate them,” Kleppe said.
The city is proposing to move the field goal posts and scoreboard to the soccer field, but otherwise leave it as is, he said.
But that may not be possible according to at least one scenario being considered by the district’s facilities committee.
“We’re looking at a couple of scenarios where we move a ton of green space,” noted Dan Coons, a member of the school board’s committee.
Coons was hesitant to say yes, preferring to wait until the facilities committee report, expected in October.
As explained by Solon school superintendent Sam Miller, one of the long-range scenarios developed by architects would utilize the former varsity football field as the site of a new middle school.
There would be other considerations as well, Coons said, because track and soccer are both spring sports, seeking time at Spartan Stadium at the same times of the year.
“Those become issues for the school also,” Coons said.
It was unforeseen, he said of the middle and high school teams competing for space, and allowing the city to use the soccer field would take some pretty detailed scheduling.
But council member Steve Stange suggested even a short-term agreement for the shared use of the field would benefit the city.
“Until you lose that green space,” Stange said, “can we make an agreement that the city can run it as need be so that our younger students can enjoy that?”
Stange was joined by in sentiment by council member Ron Herdliska.
“There’s absolutely no sense of us having separate facilities all over the place,” suggested Herdliska, a former school principal. “Where we can cooperatively go through a situation, we should be doing as much as we can.”
Miller asked the city to provide a sketch of the planned revision that could be considered by the school, which would begin “engaging our stakeholders in this conversation and then see where it goes.”
More immediate cooperation was pledged in addressing the surface water inundating the residents of Marshek Court.
Neighbors have questioned whether the millings used for a path between the middle school and high school had redirected water toward their homes.
Kleppe said he recently walked the area with school transportation, building and grounds director Mike Kasparek.
“It doesn’t appear that’s actually happening,” Kleppe reported.
Upcoming curb and gutter projects are expected to help, but if a new middle school is planned for the area, he said, the drainage should be addressed.
“It’s definitely surface run-off,” Kleppe said. “One of the homes, it’s actually come in through the window.”
“I would say it’s almost at the danger level,” said Stange. “So we’ve got to come up with some answers on how we’re going to deal with it.”
Stange said the city engineer will review the situation and make recommendations. The city could be looking at the installation of expensive drainage tile, he said, or may come back to the school with the idea of constructing an additional detention basin.
“This is a priority,” mayor Rasmussen said. “What these folks have dealt with none of us would want to have to deal with.” She suggested the city’s engineer could consult in cooperation with someone on the school side, and superintendent Miller indicated he would defer to Kasparek, who was not present at the meeting.
“How quickly will this happen?” Miller asked.
“This will happen quickly, within the next two weeks,” Kleppe responded.
School board president Dave Asprey thanked the city for brining the issue to the district’s attention and asked for continued communications.
“Certainly we’ll do all we can to try and help come up with solutions with you,” Asprey noted.
Both the board and the council had a bit of a bone to pick with parents collecting students after school at Lakeview Elementary.
Mayor Rasmussen informed the board of continued concerns regarding overflow traffic on Highway 382 by the school’s parking lot entrance.
“We had hoped with the buses moving around to the Racine entrance that would be alleviated some, and we’re just not seeing that,” Rasmussen said.
“What we’re seeing is anywhere from two-to-three vehicles out into Highway 382,” Kleppe said. “They sit there and they have that whole intersection blocked.”
Kleppe observed numerous parking spots are available in the lot, but parents don’t appear to be using them.
Stange indicated a similar situation on Sovers Street near the middle school.
Superintendent Miller agreed the situation was not ideal, and seemed to be worse in April and May.
“We’ve got 530 students and a lot of parents with young kids and each has a different system they like to use,” he said. The district is trying to identify a better system, he said. “It’s something we’re going to talk about.”