Out with the old, in with the new?
Council seems to favor razing old city hall to make way for multi-use pavilion
City council seems supportive of razing the former city hall at the City Green to make way for a recreational, multi-use pavilion, though a final decision on the building’s fate has not been made. Photo by JAIME ANTON
NORTH ROYALTON - Conceptual renderings and ideas for a pavilion with a possible observation deck were shared with city council members, who all seem to be on board with the demolition of the old city hall and the recreational, multi-use structure being erected in its place.

Council has not decided to raze the historical building just yet, nor has a budget or concept been firmed and set for the proposed pavilion.

The building and building codes committee meeting Feb. 21 was the first time conceptual ideas and renderings from architect Brandstetter Carroll Inc., the firm that worked with the city to repurpose the old library into the new city hall, were shared.

Mayor Bob Stefanik said the city is considering morphing a pavilion with entertainment capabilities into one structure and building it into the existing hill that the old city hall is built on.

"And have a second level on top of that to take advantage of the great view we have looking south at Medina County," he said. "Again, anything we decide to do with the old city hall, as far as it coming down, would have to come before council."

Community Development Director Tom Jordan reviewed preliminary ideas with council.

"An open pavilion that could be used as a bandstand and as a picnic area and making the roof usable as an overlook would be attractive," he said.

"What we are considering are attributes, we have no definitive plan as to what it will look like. We will go back and do a more formal rendering, but for now, we are just discussing the possibilities," Jordan added, after the meeting.

Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris asked if grills and a fireplace are being considered, and Stefanik said they are.

"A fireplace is something we would like to build into the structure to take advantage of that back wall," he said.

If this project moves forward, some of the sidewalk networking and the two handicap parking spots at Bennett and Ridge roads would be removed and regrading of the hill the old city hall is built into will need to preformed to be more consistent with future concepts. The Jeffrey Boskovitch Memorial in front of the building along Ridge will more than likely remain in place.

The mayor said the plan is to have this new structure completed in time for the city's bicentennial celebration set for August 2018, but before the city can progress into more serious designs and a budget, the project is contingent upon council's approval of the demolition.

Council President Larry Antoskiewicz said it's time to "pull the plug" on the old city hall.

"We've been talking and talking about it," he said. "I think it's time."

Stefanik said the city searched high and low for grant funding to preserve the building and came up empty. The building is currently being abated for asbestos, necessary regardless if the structure comes down or not. It was built on the original foundation, so it has significant structural issues, the wing additions are bowing outward and there is mold and flooding issues. City officials have estimated it would cost well over $2 million, maybe more, to preserve it.

"There was a significant leak recently," Jordan said. "The building really can't last that much longer. The deterioration has accelerated."

"The building is sitting on footers that are shifting. It's time to do what we need to do to better utilize that property," Kasaris agreed.

"Let's repurpose it into something we can be proud of," Stefanik said too.

Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw said it should come down and is intrigued by the possibilities, especially the observation deck.

"It served its purpose, it makes sense to demolition it," he said of the old building. "The observation deck is something unique that will draw people in, and it still fits in with the original purpose of public use for people to enjoy."

"I think it's something unique," Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell added. "A lot of cities don't have that vista to look over."

Jordan said the city would do a photographic record of the site to have on file historically before it is razed, and there will likely be a plaque installed to commemorate and preserve the historical nature of the site.

Council is expected to vote on the demolition in the near future.