February 22, 2022 - Safe Routes To School meeting

FEBRUARY 22, 2022

Council Members present: Dale Fox, Dave Godwin, Sydney Radich, Tom Hilliard, Brett Long, and Mike Schwab.  VA Miller and Clerk-Treasurer Kris King were also in attendance.

A Council of The Whole Committee was held to review the status of the project which is intended to provide a safe area for students to travel on foot to the schools.  At this point, there is a $35,000 invoice due to the State of Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) before we can move forward to connect the Elementary School to the Middle School.  Currently the students must walk on the white line on State Route 62.

Below is an exert from the February 22, 2022 Regular Council Meeting Minutes that best illustrates the progress of the project:


“Safe Routes to Schools Project – Consent Legislation to Bid and Additional Funding I informed Council at its last meeting that the estimate, and consequently the amount of additional funding that ODOT needed from the Village to bid out the SRTS Project was $85,000.First, the good news. ODOT verbally committed to providing an additional $50,000 in SRTS grant funds, bringing the total to $306,000.  

Still, we are now $35,000 short – approximately 10% ODOT bidding and “oversight”.

  • Total Project Cost           $416,318
  • Village spent to date -      $75,318
  • Grant Funds -                   $306,000
  • Shortfall                              $35,000    

In May of 2019 the Village and Fairless School Board authorized applying for the Safe Routes to Schools Grant. In that ordinance, it stated:

If awarded the funding, the Village of Brewster further agrees to pay One Hundred Percent (100%) of the cost over and above the funding provided for the Safe Routes to School Project, as set forth in its application, through the State of Ohio, Department of Transportation

So, Fairless has been operating under that premise – that the Village of Brewster agrees to pay One Hundred Percent (100%) of the cost over and above the funding provided for the SRTS Project.

However, as Council is aware, the project quickly and consistently morphed into a “money pit” for the Village. We received just a portion of what was requested, which was designated for the Middle and Elementary Schools by ODOT. Our SRTS Grant of $150,000 was originally to cover both construction and engineering, but to preserve funds for construction and to maintain “control” we determined to employ the engineer ourselves, at an estimated cost of not to exceed $25,000. That estimated Village contribution has tripled, with additional expenditures for $11,400 for additional engineering; $5,500 for property descriptions; $17,100 for appraisals and Negotiation for right-of way acquisition; and then $10,580 for the actual acquisition of right-of-way. The Village has spent a total of $75,318 on the SRTS Project to date.


The construction costs also took on a life of their own:

  • Estimate 1             $112,694.94
  • Estimate “2” +/- $200,000
  • Estimate “3” +/-$300,000 (revised down)
  • Estimate “4” +/- $250,000
  • “Current” Thrasher estimate $258,991.
  • ODOT “black box” estimate $306,000

As Council is aware, I reached out to Fairless when the projected cost jumped to $250,000 in October of 2020, indicating that the Village was hitting a wall with the project, and seeing if Fairless could assist with the runaway costs. That request was rendered unnecessary when ODOT provided another $100,000 in SRTS funds.

So, I have again spoken with Fairless Schools on a couple of occasions and had multiple emails and conversations with ODOT today regarding the additional match/cost of $85,000 required by ODOT in order to be able to move forward with bidding the Safe Routes to Schools Project. That number is now $35,000. I have asked Fairless to consider contributing some or all of the $35,000 in order to get the project to move forward to bidding. My reasoning is that the Village obtained the original SRTS grant of $150,000; obtained additional $106,000 in SRTS grant funds; then obtained an additional $50,000 in SRTS funds; and has spent $75,000 in engineering and acquisition costs to this point as a “match”. That makes up $381,318 of a currently projected $416,318 project. The SRTS Project is entirely on (or connects) the Fairless Schools “campus”. It would make it safe to walk from the Middle School to the Elementary School. The $35,000 is approximately 10% of the construction costs. I have indications that Fairless will consider the request.

I also reached out for clarification on possible overages (or underage) based on the estimate. My questions and ODOT’s answers (in red) are as follows:

So that I can provide full disclosure to Council about the Village’s potential future exposure as to costs, now that there is $306,000 in SRTS grant funds for the project, what happens:

  • IF the bids were to come in at or below $265,000($341,000) - would the Village refunded the full $35,000 it puts up before bidding?No, the funds stay with the project and will be utilized if any change orders are needed in construction and then at project closeout (typically 3-6 months after construction is completed) any refunds will be dispersed to the Village.
  • On the other side, it is my understanding that IF the bids were to come in higher than $306,000($341,000), the Village would have to come up with the additional construction costs. True?Yes, the Village would need to accept the low bid amount of over 7% in order to award the job and then will be invoiced for the additional.  Invoice will be sent out within a week and due in 30 days.
  • Would additional construction cost exposure for the Village be at $31,000? I believe that ODOT like the Village cannot award a contract if the bid is over 10% of the estimate going in. ODOT automatically awards if low bidder is +/- 7% of the estimate.  The above response is the process if over 7% and approval by the funding manager that additional funds are available.  Keep in mind, in the event of a higher bid we can also request an increase from SRTS for the additional. (Emphasis added)


Bottom line is that the Village (and Fairless) will be walking away from $306,000 in grant funds, in addition to the $75,318 the Village has spent to date, if the remaining $35,000 is not paid to ODOT.

The only other options are IF the project can be reduced in cost by non-performing the portion from Route 62 to Middle School, which is unlikely, OR in the alternative we are able to wait and see if construction costs come down and/or costs become less volatile.

The SRTS Project creates a safe “path” between the Middle School and Elementary School where none exists now (now must walk on white line) not only for daily use, but also for evacuation for emergencies, such as a fire at one of the schools. We have $306,000 in SRTS Grant Funds and need $35,000 to keep/utilize them and construct the SRTS Project.

Council has legislation from ODOT at its Tuesday February 22, 2022 Meeting authorizing proceeding with bidding the project and that the Village cut a $35,000 check to ODOT to do so. It has been requested to be passed on an emergency basis by ODOT to keep the project on schedule. IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE PASSED THIS EVENING!”


The materials used to connect the schools were discussed.  The original plan had all concrete but now contains sections of asphalt.  Council Member Schwab was concerned that it would not hold up as well as the concrete.  ODOT was the one to make that call.  Council Member Godwin thinks the schools are in a pinch because of the money promised by the pipeline is going to be less than what they said it would be.  Village Administrator Miller is not happy with the situation but doesn’t want to see the Village leave $306,000 of grant money go that would benefit the kids.  Having a group go to the board meeting at the school to represent the Village was discussed.

The conversation then moved to some of the benefits the Village has provided the schools at no cost to the school such as moving poles for the baseball field, moving poles for the new school, conditional use permit.  Council Member Hilliard expressed his concern about the possibility of change orders.  VA Miller stated that if it goes over by 7% of the estimate, we can go back to ODOT for assistance.  Council Member Schwab asked who would be responsible for approving the contract and VA Miller responded that ODOT would make that call.  Council Member Schwab stated that Jackson School has the final vote on a tunnel for their school.  VA Miller will verify whether the Village can not award the contract.  VA Miller stated that the 2022 Paving Project came in 50% higher than last year and is hoping to see a drop in materials.  He also stated that he would like to get a quote from the concrete contractor the school uses along with a couple more to get a good price to finish up the path in front of the homes on the south side of 7th street.  Sometimes you can get a better price from a company that is already mobile.  Council Member Hilliard would rather see the $35,000 used in front of the homes on 7th Street.

VA Miller asked what Council would like him to apply for from OPWC for next year.  He would like to apply to widen and repave Chestnut St.


Meeting adjourned at 6:25pm

Respectfully submitted,

Kris King, Clerk-Treasurer