City Halts Arts Center Patio Project; Returns Donor Funds

People who donated to fund an improved patio at the Solon Center for the Arts will get their money back, as the project is not going forward.

The Solon Center for the Arts is not moving forward with a project to improve the patio outside the center and that anyone who donated will receive a refund.

It's the latest change to an arts center beset by it since former executive director Karen Prasser resigned and the city officials announced they were investigating "irregularites" at the arts center.

Councilman Bill Mooney announced Monday that the patio project is not moving forward and that donors will receive refunds. The city council voted to return a $25,000 donation from the Corrine L Dodero Foundation for Arts.

The project had only been in the concept stage. The finance committee had signed off on an architect to create formal plans, and arts center officials were working to raise donation, both from large donors and small amounts from individual donors.

Before she resigned, former Executive Director Karen Prasser said she had received pledges worth $150,000 for the project, which was expected to cost about $225,000.

Plans for the new patio were to construct it in the location of the existing one on the side of the building.

Concepts for the new patio were only preliminary, but included an outdoor stage that could double as a deck with a patio surrounded by a brick wall with plenty of trees. The early concept called for a sail-like covering.

The arts center is currently being directed by Russell Schneider, a long-time assistant recreation director for the city.

J Miller December 04, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Just one more sign of things going down hill. What a shame!
Rocco December 04, 2012 at 01:23 PM
it was $125,000 by university hospitals, $25,000 from the Dodero foundation, and thousands of dollars in private brick donors. What a shame. Do you know how much work that took to get to that stage? 3 years!! Maybe city hall will fund the project from the city surplus- it was unbelieveable it had to be funded by donors to begin with. If the Rec center or Senior center needed a new outdoor space, they would never have had to fundraise.
Harry December 04, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Does anyone know why city hall is treating all SCA fundraising like such an outcast right now and especially the Friends? Whatever they have on anyone it better be good. Otherwise they are really going to look foolish and petty. When all eight elected officials aren't saying anything publicly I would have to think they are on to something. If this was not the case one of the more political ones would probably be issues statement in support of SCA and the Friends. Any speculation?
Rocco December 04, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I don't think it's outcast. I think they have no one left on staff to fundraise. and the city probably doesn't want to put any city money into the patio. As for the city council, they have some attorneys on council that have probably advised them all not to talk to anyone. From what I saw, city council was very supportive of Friends and Karen Prasser and will still be after this investigation of procedural issues is done. Just my 2 cents.
Anne December 05, 2012 at 12:00 AM
The patio was not ADA compliant according to the drawings shown at council so it would not have been built. The fact that Ed Kraus did not speak up at council last night was surprising. There were no comments or debates by anyone I wonder what that could mean!
Anne December 05, 2012 at 10:53 AM
I don't remember seeing any approval for the conceptual design drawings from the planning commission. That's a big problem. Oh well, not an issue now. Now going to happen.
Rocco December 05, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Do you work for the city? You seem to know a lot about the approval process for something like this. Coming into the holiday season when residents would have been inclined to purchase bricks as gifts if the campaign had continued to be advertised, it seems a shame with over $168,000 raised already of the $225,000 needed, to pull the plug. Perhaps just postpone it for now instead of canceling. I know personally that Solon Rotary was involved in this campaign as well as Friends and the Arts Center.
J Miller December 05, 2012 at 02:06 PM
If I were a donor, I would be upset. This is a slap in the face. Find a way to go forward with the project even if it means scaling back. Who ever heard of returning money given generously with the belief that you were helping to bring a beautiful asset to our city.
Anne December 06, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I do not work for the city. I was one of the original volunteers on the Save Old City Hall Committee. I was a very dedicated volunteer who raised funds and awareness along with other members of my family. We were there when the first penny was raised, attended every meeting of the committee, and the grand opening ball. I can tell you that our committee was very aware that the arts center was a CITY DEPARTMENT, nothing more. We received grants for restoring an historic building, which had nothing to do with programming. I have discussed my concerns with the mayor and I trust her to do the right thing. We will see what the investigation reveals, but I have a pretty good idea about that. I do watch the agendas and if something interests me, I will watch city meetings on tv.
Rocco December 06, 2012 at 02:31 AM
What are your ideas on the investigation? I am lost.
Anne December 06, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I would rather not express my views on what the investigation might reveal. We will all have to wait for the results.
Rocco December 06, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I think that's the Rotary logo on the picture of the Build a Brick sign, right?


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