In 1802 , the community of what was later to be named Suffield Township was founded by Royal Pease, who was originally from Suffield, Connecticut. From 1802 until April 6, 1818, our community was known as Peasetown. In 1818, the name was changed to Suffield Township and governing officials were elected. Suffield is one of 18 townships in Portage County and lies in the southwest corner of the county. We are uniquely situated in close proximity to Akron, Ohio to the west and to Hartville, Ohio to the south. This gives our community a great mix of big city opportunities combined with rural charm.
With a population of 6,285 as noted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013, Suffield Township is a close knit community - a community where neighbors look out for one another and wave when passing on the road. Township services include a highly trained Fire Department, led by Chief Robert Rasnick, providing fire and EMS protection to the township, as well as a hard working Road Department, supervised by Scott McBroom, that takes care of the roadways and other services related to the needs of the community.
We welcome you to our community. Please explore our website and see what Suffield has to offer.
The Suffield Township trustees met tonight before a smaller than usual crowd of eight people. A number of topics were discussed, some of them as ongoing discussions on issues important to the township. Chief Robert Rasnick attended the meeting and gave the trustees the bad news that a grant he was hoping for had fallen through. As a result, he asked that the trustees approve an expenditure from the Fire Department budget for $60,000 to buy 30 sets of new "turn out gear". These are the pants and jackets that firefighters wear to protect themselves from the massive heat of a fire. In approving the expenditure, a decision was made to hold off on buying new protective helmets, face shields, gloves and boots. These will be replaced as needed over the next several years. The pants and jackets currently used by the firefighters has a ten year life, which has come to an end. In other Fire Department news, the trustees accepted the resignation of Josh White, who had been a probationary employee, and voted to send a letter of appreciation to Joe Theil, a three year firefighter, who is resigning after recently accepting a full-time job with the Plain Township Fire Department.
On zoning matters, trustee Dave Vartenuk said that the house at 1470 North Polen had gone up for Sheriff's sale, and the house at 1560 Carriage House Drive is on the auction block on September 19th. Appraised value of that property is an amazing $150,000 and cannot be sold unless someone is willing to pay at least 2/3 of that amount. The trustees decided to hold a public hearing on the derelict house at 2412 Sunnybrook Road, but did not set a date due to some questions that need clarification from the Prosecutor's Office. Zoning Inspector Adam Bey said that there will be at least three persons seeking hearings before the Board of Zoning Appeals. Fiscal Officer Lori Calcei will be scheduling these soon.
John Yeargin, Zoning Commission chairman and point man for the the lakeside residents in the Spring Valley Estates allotment, gave the trustees a report on the situation involving the possible removal of the Pretty Glen Dam.
Trustee Jeff Eldreth indicated that the Road Department is pretty well caught up with their summer work. He asked for and received the approval of the other trustees for the Road Department to use a new type of sealing slurry on the streets in the Carriage House Estates allotment. This will be done soon. Eldreth also said that he had worked out an arrangement with Turfco to do some additional mowing in the Eastlawn Cemetery, without any additional cost to the township.
The trustees held a fairly lengthy discussion on the recycle issue. Jeff Eldreth said that about 500 cards had been returned to the Portage County Solid Waste Management and about 65% of those responding were in favor of having curbside recycle pick up. Trustee Chairman Tom Calcei suggested that a public hearing be held on this matter. He said that Bill Steiner, recycle guru for the county, would be asked to attend to answer questions, of which there appear to be plenty. Until a time commitment is made by Steiner, no public hearing date has yet been set.
Who would have thought that the Suffield Township trustees would enter into the politics of marijuana, but tonight they did just that. Following the lead of Weathersfield Township in Trumbull County, the trustees adopted a resolution that "prohibits medical marijuana cultivators, processors and dispensaries within the limits of the township". A state law regarding medical marijuana was passed by the Ohio legislature and signed by the governor on June 8, 2016. This becomes effective on September 8, 2016. Provisions in this law (HB 523) allow for townships to essentially limit production and distribution of medical marijuana, or to prohibit manufacture and distribution completely. The bill also required the township to conduct all meetings and deliberations on this matter in a transparent public forum, such as the meeting tonight. A member of the audience pointed out that the Suffield trustee's action tonight would not affect a person's ability to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana from their doctor or possess this legally obtained drug, but would merely force them to buy it a some drug store or facility outside the Suffield Township limits.
The trustees also welcomed township residents John & Marie Brooker to the meeting. Their expressed interest was mostly in the recycling issue. The trustees meet next on Tuesday September 13 at 8:00 PM. The Zoning Commission meets on Wednesday September 14th at 7:00 PM, and Board of Zoning Appeals will be meeting in September on a date or dates yet to be determined. Don't forget the Fire Department's Pancake Breakfast at the Fire House on Labor Day, Monday September 5th from 8:00 AM until 11:00 AM. And lastly, the trustees send best wishes to Jim Albertoni for a quick and full recovery from a recent illness.
Field 34, Minerva 0.....Field starts out strong, just like last year
Mogadore 24, Linsly School 6.....Successful trip to Wheeling, West Virginia
Lake 17, Akron Garfield 0.....Garfield isn't what it used to be
Akron Ellet 35, Springfield 14.....Ellet continues its good fortunes
After last week's private and public meetings on the future of the Pretty Glen Dam, the quick scheduling of a hearing by the Portage County Commissioners led most to believe that a decision on keeping the dam or removing it had been made. However.....about ten Suffield residents attended a meeting today in which Commissioner Maureen Frederick spoke first and immediately announced that no decision on the issue had yet been made and further that the commissioners were committed to exploring all options, including options that hadn't even yet been proposed. After this the Director of the Portage County Water Resources Department Eugene Roberts was given the floor for a very informative presentation on another option. He started by saying that he had had a positive discussion with the City of Akron, who might be willing to allow a pipe from the Mogadore Reservoir to Martin Road for a dry hydrant for Fire Department use. Roberts said that he had met with the Ohio EPA and that they had been receptive to working with the local residents.
Roberts, who only recently became the director of the Portage County Water Resource Department, had been Service Director in Kent for twenty years and was involved in the re-working of the large dam on the Cuyahoga River near downtown Kent and the removal of a dam along Plum Creek. He addressed some of the residents concerns about the final outcome of the creek if the dam were to be removed. In total bluntness, he said that the creek would be small and only a couple times a year the water would flow enough to allow for kayaking, and that the landscape would most definitely be different. He also acknowledged that the odor from the newly exposed muck would last for about one year. Roberts suggested that the natural creek bed could be moved from the south side of the valley to the north side and that small pools of water could be created along the stream.
Also speaking was Todd Bragg, who is the Director of Budget and Finance Management for the commissioners. He also had been in discussions with the Ohio EPA this week. He and commissioner Kathleen Chandler clarified a couple important issues on the money side of the matter. First was that the cost of removing the dam as presented by Shawn Arden of EMH&T last week was stated at $1,621,300 and was just an estimate by his own engineering firm. If the commissioners act to remove the dam, there will be an actual bidding process with the work awarded to a company at that point. The second thing cleared up was the actual estimated cost of dam removal. Bragg said that simply tearing out the dam structure was fairly cheap, $300,000 to $400,000, and that the additional one million or so was to restore the area to as it was prior to the dam's construction in 1938.
Bragg said that there were several grants available for dam removal and remediation of the stream bed, one of which has a deadline of August 31st. This deadline is merely to allow the granters to know of the county's interest. The actual application for monies available in 2017 comes later this year.
Also brought up in this meeting was an admission by John Yeargin that his individual deed for his properties in the Spring Valley allotment does not actually include "rights" to use the Pretty Glen Pond. Yeargin later found that a Covenant of Conditions and Restrictions, of which Patricia Everly had a copy, covers the entire allotment and has a specific section that calls for "valley lake rights" to all property owners. It was suggested by Eugene Roberts that this legal claim may also be included in the tax platting for that area. Maureen Frederick said that the county's legal department would check into this as she wanted to make certain anything done would be done in a legal manner. Kathleen Chandler suggested that perhaps commissioners could set up a bus tour to other places that have had dams removed to see how those areas have fared.
The residents were given time to speak. Patricia Everly, Carol Groh, Bill Daniels, Dave & Linda Barr and Kathy Rhoads all took the opportunity to speak on a variety of issues germane to the Pretty Glen Dam dilemma. The topics of fish and birds was mentioned, lowering the dam in height to change its status with the ODNR, thus eliminating inspections, the valuation of property and, of course, an "expert on muck" Linda Barr told of how they had dredged part of the pond a long time ago and how it took more than three years for the muck to dry.
Commissioner Maureen Frederick said that her concern is that the residents be treated fairly, but she acknowledged the county's lack of funds was a definite obstacle to overcome. There will be more meetings to come. Frederick suggested that residents could check with the commissioners agenda, which is posted on their website: www.co.portage.oh.us/commissioners.htm.
Known to some as the Hills Pond Dam, the Pretty Glen Dam was built in 1938, about the same time that the Mogadore Reservoir was being built. The reservoir was built between 1936 and 1939 as a project of the Works Progress Administration. At the time, the Pretty Glen Dam was built to create a lake for residents in the adjoining Spring Valley allotment to use for recreation. During the 1980's the City of Akron was attempting to spread its way deep into the suburbs through annexation, often employing availability of their water supply and system as a trade off for land. In 1991 the Portage County Commissioners, Chris Smeiles, John D. Thomas and Janet Esposito, purchased the dam and approximately 33.78 acres. This land is mostly on the west side and north side of the dam, and was bought in order to stop Akron's annexation drive toward the Mogadore Reservoir and the rich and industrially potential lands of Suffield Township. Now about 78 years old, the dam is plagued by years of neglect and is subject to ODNR inspections that call for repairs or removal. Thus the issue that now confronts the nearby residents, the county commissioners and Suffield Township as a whole.
A group of concerned residents showed up at the Portage County Commissioners meeting room on Thursday August 18th to have their opinions heard on whether the Pretty Glen Dam should be removed or repaired. Spearheading this group were Carol Groh and Bill Daniels, who both actually live on the shores of the Pretty Glen Pond, and John Yeargin, who lives nearby in the Spring Valley Allotment.
Pretty Glen Dam, aka the Hills Pond Dam, was originally built in 1938. It was privately built and owned with the pond being created for the use of people that bought properties in the Spring Valley Allotment. In 1991, the Portage County Commissioners purchased the dam, and some of the pond, in order to stop the City of Akron from annexing eastward into Portage County and Suffield Township. Recently, however, in 2012 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) inspected the dam and determined that repairs were necessary. In 2015, it was estimated the cost of these repairs would be about $56,000. Suffield Township officials became aware of the situation and took steps to make sure the current county commissioners were aware that the dam and pond were very important to the township. At that time, it was pointed out that water from the pond is used by the Suffield, Mogadore, Tallmadge and Brimfield Fire Departments. It was also pointed out that residents living along the Pretty Glen Pond would likely experience a reduction in their property values if the pond was drained. The county commissioners decided to table any further discussion on eliminating the dam and later chose to hire an engineering firm from Columbus to review the situation. Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton & Tilton (EMH&T) recently submitted a finding to the county commissioners. Oddly enough, EMH&T suggested that the cost to repair the dam was now up to about $1.5 million and the cost to remove the dam about $1.6 million. Word and concern spread when it was reported in the Ravenna Record-Courier that grants were not available for repairs, but grant money was out there for dam removal.
In the meantime, residents of the Spring Valley Allotment have begun to organize a movement to save the dam. Carol Groh hosted a gathering at her pond-side home to allow the property owners to hear the complaints and to make a plan of action. A letter from the county commissioner had been sent to those property owners whose property actually bordered the pond. During this session it was pointed out that there are 82 houses in the allotment and all these homeowners have deeded rights to use the pond. Those residents, who have no actual pond frontage themselves, do have a public access point. Also attending this meeting was Suffield Fire Department Chief Robert Rasnick. He was clearly concerned about the prospective of losing access to the water now available in the Pretty Glen Pond. He stated "I think it's insane" when asked about removing the dam. He also pointed out that the Mogadore Fire Chief, who couldn't be at the meeting, was also very much in favor of keeping the dam and the source of water.
John Yeargin pointed out that a tax map that he had obtained shows that a large portion of the pond is actually owned by the Testa Companies, who recently bought the old West's Mogadore County Club for development. He and Chief Rasnick also mentioned that the Sunoco Company was very interested in the future of the dam, as they are dependent on the pond's pool for a certain percentage of the water that they are required to have access to.
But all that was on Wednesday evening. The real event was Thursday evening at the county commissioner's 7th floor meeting room. Before a packed room, Shawn W. Arden of the EMH&T Engineering firm started by talking about his firm's study of the area. He mentioned that the ODNR had last conducted an inspection of the dam in 2012 and they would again inspect it in 2017. The last several inspections had shown flaws, the most imposing was that the dam lacked "spillway capacity". He then talked about the three "concepts" that were currently being proposed. Concept #1 required that the entire pool of water to both the east and west of the dam be drained away so that the dam could be covered with "rolled concrete". This would cost the county an estimated $1,414,110. He said that at this time there were no known grants available to help with this cost. Concept #2 would be to drain the pool of water and raise the top of the dam so that water does not "over-top" the dam itself. This solution would come at an estimated price of $1,542,835 and again he knew of no available grants.
Concept #3 was removal of the dam and restoration of the land where water currently lies. In this concept, there would likely be a small pool of water created near Martin Road so that a dry hydrant could still be located there. Under this plan, the muck that fills the bottom of the pond, estimated to be two to six feet deep, would be piled to the sides of the stream bed for drying purposes and various forms of vegetation would be planted. The cost to remove the dam was estimated to be $1,621,300. However there are grants available to the tune of about $972,780, meaning this proposal would actually cost the county about $648,520. Oddly enough, Commissioner Kathleen Chandler mentioned that the City of Akron might be willing to help out on this project, provided the dam was eliminated. No clarification was given on this statement. Mr. Arden's presentation was straight forward and very professional. He said he welcomed public comment and on several occasions heard things from the audience that he had not learned in his evaluation process. Mr. Arden said that any of the concepts would take about one year to finish.
After this presentation by Mr. Arden, the floor was opened for public comment and as expected, there was plenty. As stated above, the commissioners were told of the need for water for fire suppression, the likelihood of lowered property values, the impact that removing the dam would have on the eco-system, and, of course, the questions on why the dam needed to be taken out after 78 years of peaceful existence. Suffield Township trustee Tom Calcei asked how removing the dam would improve the eco-sytem as Mr. Arden had stated. Mr. Arden admitted that removal wouldn't necessarily improve the eco-system, but would merely change it. While the residents were polite in their questions, some of the questions put the commissioners on the defense. John Yeargin and Bill Daniels both asked if money had been allocated over the years for routine maintenance, which, if done, would have kept the dam in acceptable condition when inspected by the ODNR. Commissioner Maureen Frederick admitted that this was not the case. The only time that the crowd seemed to grow testy was when Maureen Frederick read a letter or e-mail from a woman who is in favor of removing the dam. The crowd, who had to give their name each time they spoke, was upset that Frederick refused to name this woman.
Near the conclusion of the meeting, Maureen Frederick said that, when taking into consideration potential federal or state grant money, the difference in cost between repairing the dam or removing it would be one of the big factors in their final decision. One interesting point that was raised by Mogadore Fire Chief John Cain was the time lines for applying for and getting grants. Mr. Arden said that of the two grants he is familiar with, one has a filing deadline in September and the other in December. When Maureen Frederick was asked when a decision on the dam would be made, she said she wasn't sure.