The recession is prompting Mayor Mike Seferian to reconsider the proposed construction of a concession/restroom facility that would serve the new South Recreation Complex.
“As you know, we had budgeted money for a concession stand and restroom facility,” Seferian said to council at a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 1. “With the budgetary concerns we have, to proceed to build that right now, things are kind of at a holdup.”
The facility, which would be located on city owned property off Starr Extension Avenue west of the access drive and parking lots in the middle of the soccer and flag football fields, is estimated to cost $240,000, he said.
The Recreation & Parks Committee considered reducing the size or altering the proposed facility, said Seferian.
“That was something I wasn’t prepared to do,” he said.
He and Administrator Mike Beazley do not want the project to be financed with money from the General Fund, he said.
“Mr. Beazley and I are working on a different concept to fund this rather than taking general fund money to actually build this facility. The one thing we don’t want to do is fund this concession stand/restroom facility with our incoming revenues. We’re going to make it stand on its own merits, and we believe we can do that,” said Seferian.
“We may want to explore ideas of running this concession stand as sort of a revenue or an enterprise account, borrow money from one of our funds – water or sewer - and use the proceeds of the concession stand to pay it back. We’re going to work on some numbers and see if that’s possible, and look at different ideas of how to run the concession stand. We’ll be in contact with [Councilman Terry] Reeves at any given time to possibly host a recreation committee meeting to explore ideas that we may be able to come up with,” said Seferian. Reeves is chairman of the Recreation & Parks Committee.
The recreation department does have existing separate concession stand and restroom facilities that serve the baseball complex north of Wolf Creek. The city collects approximately $35,000 annually from the concession stand, said Seferian.
“At $35,000 per year, this newer stand would have soft serve ice cream and some better products,” he said. As a result, the profits of a new concession stand may double, he added.
“If we had some kind of five or six year plan to pay it off with a loan, something other than taking money out of our revenues, we’ll explore those ideas. We may explore ideas of selling the rights to this so someone can run it privately. We don’t know what kind of money those people would be willing to pay. But there’s a lot of ideas out there,” said Seferian.
Also at the meeting, Seferian said the city will start searching for a new police chief to replace Chief Rick Stager, who is retiring early next year.
“As you know, Rick Stager has announced that at the end of January, he will be retiring,” said Seferian. “Mr. Beazley and I are putting together some things to be exploring a new police chief. We may be doing something similar in nature that we did in the fire department, as well as me looking for the best possible chief, wherever we can find one, that we think will suit the needs of our city.”
Stager was named acting chief in 2007 when former Chief Tom Gulch resigned. He was appointed chief in 2008.
Councilman Dennis Walendzak asked if there are minimum qualifications on file for the position of police chief.
“If not, do we want to get a Safety Committee meeting together to see what we would consider as minimum requirements for that position?” asked Walendzak.
“There are some things down, but nothing that forces you to adhere to that,” said Seferian. “We have some very qualified people in our department.” If the city went outside the department to find a chief, he added, the candidate would exceed the minimum qualifications.”
“I don’t think the requirements we have are going to be a problem. We’re looking to find the best possible person for the job who could run the department. I don’t think that’s so necessary that we have something down because we’re looking for a high caliber person, and we would be hoping to exceed anything we have down on paper anyway,” said Seferian.
“I will comb our files,” said Beazley, “and make sure we get out to the members what is in our files and what is in Ohio law in terms of the requirements. I don’t think there’s anything that specific.”