The partially buried Seiberling Nature Realm has roof water leaks that need to be repaired.
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, commissioners voted Tuesday to seek bids for the work after a proposal to spend nearly $500,000 without competitive bidding was blocked.
Commissioner Jane Bond voted against the plan to hire Thomarios Construction of Akron to make emergency repairs to the nature center off Smith Road in northwest Akron.
Park officials had gotten a verbal quote of $484,221 from the firm, officials said.
Hiring Thomarios without competitive bidding is “a real problem,” said Bond, who said she could not support such a move.
Commissioners Roland Bauer and Mark Spisak had approved the hiring plan, but the proposal to hire the firm as an emergency measure to begin immediate repairs needed three votes.
It is likely that the competitive bids can be solicited, analyzed and presented to the park commissioners at their June meeting, officials said.
The leaks are “not catastrophic but they have gotten to the point of being a problem,” said Keith Shy, the park district’s director-secretary.
Heavy spring rains have made the leaks a bigger problem, and they are threatening some of the displays inside the nature center, he said.
The repair project is filled with unknowns because sections of the building’s roof are buried under 6 to 8 feet of dirt that must be removed to determine the scope of the problem and the needed corrective steps, Shy said.
In other action, park commissioners:
• Approved a $622,700 contract with Cavanaugh Building Corp. of Akron for Phase 2 of the Freedom Trail that will run 2 miles from Southwest Avenue in Tallmadge west to Eastwood Avenue in Akron.
The first 4-mile trail section from Southwest Avenue east to the Tallmadge-Kent line opened earlier.
A third leg, also 2 miles, will take the trail from Eastwood Avenue west to the University of Akron campus with a side trail to Akron’s Northside Station and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.
Construction is likely be begin in the spring and be done in late 2014, park officials said.
• Hired Hejduk-Cox and Associates of Cleveland to survey the boundaries of the 570-acre Wetmore Conservation Area off Wetmore Road in Cuyahoga Falls and Boston Township. The firm will be paid $77,850.
• Agreed to pay Peninsula Architects $23,650 to take a look at space needs at the park district’s administrative offices off Treaty Line Road in northwest Akron.
• Rejected three bids for Towpath Trail repairs under the U.S. Route 224 underpass in South Akron that all exceeded the engineer’s estimate of $134,000. Park officials said they will review the project and probably will seek new bids in the fall. Road salt from the highway has caused a wooden trail deck to deteriorate.
• Agreed to let the Ohio Department of Transportation inspect the park district’s nine vehicular bridges for free under a three-year, federally funded program. Previously, the bridges were inspected by the Summit County Engineer’s Office at a cost of $2,317 a year.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.