Rockton Township debates renovations for Greater Rockton Centre
Rockton Township trustees looked at options and discussed action regarding improvements and renovations for the Greater Rockton Centre at their July 13 meeting.
Work has been ongoing at the Greater Rockton Centre since it was gifted to the Rockton Township Board. Current work includes roadwork in front of the center, rock and new plants.
Louie Lucchesi, Owner of Tri-L Landscaping which has been doing the work, said that the new plants come with a three year guarantee and that he will maintain the area. He also offered to get a free estimate on a new flagpole. His workers have needed to be careful when working around the gas lines close to the building.
Lucchesi submitted bills for the first phase of the work he had been contracted to do. The trustees discussed whether the Township should pay him before the rest of the project is completed. Some of the trustees seemed uncertain how much work had really needed to be done, at least right now.
Trustee Connie Gleasman said, “We should not be fronting dollars and cents. When we accepted the original contract we didn't know the closeness of the pipeline... What are the next steps to be taken? What is the dirt going to be used for?”
Questions focused on where specific funds will be used.
Township Supervisor Paul Williams said, “Our goal is to finish the interior upgrades and renovations this year.”
Lucchesi is putting grass seed in a specific section. Stairs leading to outside will have an emergency exit. Underground drain operations have been looked at. There is a service door in the center; two years ago a new roof was put on the building.
Trustees talked about whether to use of mulch or rock in the landscaping. Williams suggested using bark mulch. Trustee Gene Hermann spoke of maybe using weed fabric to help control the weeds. “There is some advantage to the stone,” Hermann said.
Lucchesi said, “We did Taylor Company's landscaping for 37 years and the head person there never wanted mulch used. The stone that will be used on the wall is natural and long term."
“We can always put the stone in later,” Gleasman said.
Lucchesi informed the board that the next planned steps are to build the wall, do plantings, then the boulders will be added next. “I have the equipment to complete the planting and weeding. The black dirt seed is done. Rock Energy has dug for lines.” He said he had already ordered the plants and other materials.
Phase two includes boulders, landscaping under the staircase, removal of trees by the log cabin and installing an underground drain. The cost will be a combination of materials and labor.
Gleasman asked Lucchesi if he could produce receipts and list the time spent. “The work should be completed before we pay,” she said.
Lucchesi explained, “When I buy products, I pay for them up front.” Someone asked if work was done by someone other than The Tri-L crew. Lucchesi replied, “No one works outside of our crew.”
“There has been a lot of planning and a lot of leg work; we are already in it and we have to do something,” Hermann said.
Township Attorney Doug Henry said, "Any contractor can give terms but they don't have to be accepted. You need to look at, 'Is the work properly acceptable and are there any items that can be taken off of a presented list?'"
Henry advised, “In the future don't operate that way.”
Township Office Manager Kristi Shaffer said, “If we make the building nice, it will draw more rentals and use.”
Williams said, “The center is something that we own and we have put money into this, it is pretty outdated in a lot of ways. We will have to replace the ovens and possibly make a prep kitchen.” He also suggested holding off on the flag pole.
“Even if this project is expensive, if the people are happy and they like it, that is what is most important,” Trustee Vicky Ivy said. “If the money is there, it will work nicely with what Louie is proposing.”
“We have to move forward even if I don't like the cost numbers,” Hermann said.
Henry advised that the work is already done. “The board should pay for the amount of work that is done. Going forward, make sure that a vendor provides waivers, and has proof of insurance. This expense needs to be paid; you entered into a contract.”
Henry added, “I wouldn't recommend paying a certain percentage up front going forward.”
“We have been in this business for 47 years,” Lucchesi said.
It was stated that another contractor would want the money up front.
“This seems to be a landscaping thing. Of all three estimates that we got, it seems to be a practice to get the money up front. It is a way to get additional money; I don't like the idea of a down payment,” Gleasman said.
Hermann asked about the costs of around $200,000 that have added up so far. Williams replied, “We got this building at no cost. We couldn't build a building for less today.”
Surveying the site cost an estimated $15,000, along with other work and architectural sketches.
It was determined the basement needs to be completely gutted. A set of drawings was done to assure that ADA standards are met.
In the early stages of planning, Township Supervisor Paul Williams and Trustee Gene Herman met with an architect.
In former discussions about the center, trustees considered three options: rebuilding, tearing the center down or donating it to someone else. If the Township ever decided to dispose of the center, a contract shows that the building was given to the Township as a gift. If it were sold, all the money would go to charitable organizations in the community.
The center has been used over the years for weddings, receptions, reunions, graduation parties, and community meetings and events. Supervisor Williams said, “The Hononegah High School football team has had spaghetti dinners there.”
In other business, Gleasman questioned why the Township had paid $100 for an ad reading, “Rockton Township proudly sponsors Juneteenth.”
“I am unsure that we should be using those funds for this. It should have been approved before it is on the list to be paid,” Gleasman said.
Trustee Ivy said, “This is the first year for this holiday and we need to represent all of the people in the area.”
Hermann asked if talking about a specific holiday is appropriate. "Where do you draw the line?"
Ivy responded, “We could take out an ad for veterans; those people also pay taxes.”
The Township office staff each offered to pay for part of the ad.
"This is a procedural issue," Gleasman said.
Ivy apologized if she handled the situation wrong. Gleasman said, “If something is to be voted on, it needs to be on the agenda."
“This all comes back to me, it is not that big a deal. Where I come from there is only one race, the human race,” Williams said.
Trustee Randy Johnson reviewed specific parts of the employee handbook and received clarification on things he questioned.
The cemetery report showed that a number of plots were sold, plus 19 new spaces. There have been many compliments on how nice the cemetery looks. “[Sexton] Chris [Doering] has been doing a super job,” Williams said.
During public comment, Judy Bates complimented an extraordinary job of mowing at Phillips Cemetery.
Township employees have completed cleaning a manhole box and power washing of a drywall.
The Township board approved an agreement with Siepert & Co., LLP for audit services, at a cost of $16,200.
Williams said that a bid will be obtained on the roof of the log cabin at the Greater Rockton Centre - "It is looking pretty bad."
In addition to the new roof, future work planned for the log cabin includes staining, new windows, sandblasting the exterior and retaining specific sections. The township will also look into removal of the light fixture and sealing LED lights.