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Exterior renovation of Bull house in Solon to proceed; interior work delayed

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 5 days ago By Ed Wittenberg, cleveland.com

SOLON, Ohio – City officials have determined that only the exterior of the Bull house should be renovated at this time due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday (May 18), City Council approved legislation to rescind an ordinance passed April 6 to renovate both the interior and exterior of the historic home at 34045 Bainbridge Road and to accept a revised proposal from Regency Construction Services of Brook Park to renovate the exterior and do “only necessary interior construction.”

Regency Construction is the general contractor for the project through The Gordian Group, based in Greenville, S.C.

The Bull house, named for city co-founder Lorenzo Solon Bull, is perhaps the oldest property in the city. It was built in 1835.

Regency’s revised bid to renovate the exterior of the home is $210,710. That includes $30,074 for work on the rear deck.

On April 6, council had approved The Gordian Group’s proposal to have Regency renovate both the interior and exterior of the house for $342,076. It was also determined at that time that there may be water damage in the basement, so another $23,450 was added for waterproofing, increasing the total estimated cost of the project to $365,526.

The renovation project is being done through the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program. On Dec. 16, council approved the city’s participation in this program, which allows for joint contracts through a national or state association of political subdivisions.

The new ordinance includes an emergency clause to start construction immediately “for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare” of the city.

Residents report flooding

Several council members said they received calls from residents in their wards regarding flooding issues due to heavy rains that fell from Friday through Sunday (May 15-17).

William Drsek, the city’s public works commissioner, said 3 1/2 inches of rain fell in the city between May 15-17, with 2 1/4 inches of that rain falling on May 15.

“We had a total of 24 calls, and 13 of those calls were from people who had water in their basement,” Drsek said. “The other 11 were calls that were either yard flooding or some type of road flooding.”

Drsek said it seemed like recurring incidents of flooding were reported from homes on South Roundhead Drive in the city’s Liberty Hills subdivision.

Drsek added that he and City Engineer John Busch plan to work with Burgess & Niple – an engineering and architecture firm that serves as a consultant to the city – to try to come up with an action plan to resolve some of the flooding issues.

Ward 1 Councilman Macke Bentley was one of several council members who thanked Drsek and the public works and service departments for their efforts regarding the impact of the heavy rainfall.

“I had four people call me (last) weekend about the flooding, and (public works) took care of it before I could even call them back,” Bentley said. “Unfortunately, big rain events happen. All we can do is do our best to help our residents cope with it.

“Our city services are incredible, and they do a great job of taking care of everyone.”

Russo: ‘Stop watching news’

Ward 7 Councilman Bill Russo expressed some concerns about the city’s economy as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

“I just hope the economy opens up much more quickly than it has, and I hope that residents end up getting out and consuming because 70 percent of our economy is consumption,” he said. “If we have no consumers and people are still staying at home and not spending money, we’re going to see the effect of this pandemic going on for a long period of time.”

Russo also recommended that residents “stop watching the news.”

“I think the news media has done a disservice to people,” he said. “They’ve created an abundance of fear and anxiety in a number of people that really is not doing anyone any good.

“It’s OK to give information, but every time you turn around, there’s something else to be fearful of.”

Mayor Ed Kraus also encouraged residents to “get out and shop, go to restaurants, spend the money.”

“It’s really important for the community,” he said. “When you do go to restaurants, make sure to socially distance and be careful and be safe. But it is important as our economy begins to reopen.”

On Monday (May 18), council approved an amended 2020 general fund budget with reductions of $2.8 million. Matt Rubino, the city’s director of finances, said he anticipates a revenue loss of about $7.1 million in operating expenses this year as a direct result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Memorial Day service

Kraus said the city will have a small Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. Monday (May 25) at Roselawn Cemetery, including some members of Veterans of Foreign Wars. He said it will be live-streamed on the city’s website, solonohio.org.

A Memorial Day event that was to be part of the city’s bicentennial celebration was canceled in late April, along with other special events scheduled for this spring and summer, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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