Aurora -- The city will be involved in a restoration project with the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River, but Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin stressed at the City Council's May 12 meeting the city is not contributing anything for the $825,983 project.
"Funding for the project is from a water restoration grant through the Ohio EPA," she said. "The city will be reimbursed for expenditures up to the grant amount, which is the total amount that can be expended."
Finance Director Bob Paul agreed. "We'll make payments under the contract [terms] and seek reimbursement," he said.
Womer Benjamin said the city has budgeted $35,000 of its own money for maintenance and path repair at the property this year, which is the city's responsibility. It is not related to the river restoration.
She said the city is legally obligated to take part in the restoration. Work must be completed in 2016.
City Council placed the item on second reading May 12. The joint project involves Aurora, the Northeast Ohio Sewer District and the Ohio EPA in conjunction with the Ohio EPA's Water Resources Restoration Sponsor Program.
Six companies submitted proposals, and RiverReach Construction of Norton was selected. Womer Benjamin said the company recently completed dam restoration and removal work in Cuyahoga Falls.
"The selection team for the contractor on this project was comprised of the city of Aurora and Chagrin River Watershed Partners personnel, who evaluated all of the proposals on technical, approach, key personnel, experience/depth, flexibility, deliverables and cost, which was the same for all respondents since the cost is determined by the grant amount," she explained.
SHE ADDED the project calls for the restoration of at least 4,500 linear feet of streams on the former golf course property and 33 acres of mowed riparian areas to forested floodplain.
Womer Benjamin said the project is important to the Chagrin River and its warm water habitat.
"The golf course use had degraded the stream, destroyed the riparian habitat and dammed up an area of the stream, among other things," she said. "This project will restore the natural course of the stream and the vegetation in the area, and improve the water quality.
"The flora and fauna and diverse plant life will return once the replanting is complete along with the cessation of all golfing activities.
"Long-term benefits from converting the property to passive recreation only, with pedestrian use and non-motor vehicle use, also will continue to improve water quality and the biological habitat for the property and the Chagrin River.
"For the community, the property will provide a beautiful park-like setting for outdoor enjoyment and passive recreation."
According to the Council legislation, RiverReach must participate in two public informational meetings and at least one field day to answer questions from City Council, the planning commission, the park board and residents of Aurora.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC