Aurora – The City of Aurora’s plan to purchase and restore a portion of the Aurora Golf Club and restore the 186-acre section, which includes over 8,000 feet of the Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River and 13 acres of wetlands, is moving forward. The property now belongs to the city and this fall, the city will issue their Request for Proposals pending the outcome of its case at the appeals commission. The city procured the property due to a $4.7 grant from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP).
Six residents have since appealed the purchase of the property on the grounds that the city is pursuing a “hidden agenda that is inconsistent with and contrary to the mission of the EPA and the WRRSP,” amongst other arguments against the project, according to the notice of appeal. This hidden agenda, per the notice, relates to the consideration given by the City Planning Commission to a conditional zoning certificate regarding the operation of a party center and funeral home on the property.
The section of property the funeral home and party center are slated to be housed on is 5.6 acres of the former golf club that includes the club house. This portion of the property was bought independently by Thomas Steinbauer, owner of Kindrich McHugh Steinbauer Funeral Home in Solon. “I am a private business, I am not running it for the city,” Steinbauer said. “And I’d like to consider it a family event center rather than a party center. I want it to revolve around those family milestones, like baptisms, confirmations, graduations, wedding ceremonies and anniversaries.”
If the court decision is in favor of the city and its project, this September the city will issue a Request for Proposals, which, according to the City of Aurora’s Director of Planning, Zoning and Building Department Rich Wehrenberg, is an “invitation to bid on the restoration work to be done on the Chagrin River and surrounding wetlands and floodplain.” The city will consider the offers made by companies that specialize in such restoration projects, taking their price, experience and general proposal into consideration. “The successful bidder will be selected, and work will be scheduled through the spring and summer of 2014, with completion sometime in the fall.”
Within the 13 acres of wetlands the city plans to restore are 6 acres of Category 3 wetlands. A Category 3 wetland is defined by the EPA as wetlands with superior wetland function and / or integrity. These wetlands can be difficult to recover and thus require protection. Further, the project will restore the riparian vegetation, the plant habitats along river margins and banks, which will help prevent further erosion.