NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — The city has hired a member of its zoning appeal board to design its new senior center.
Frank Castrovillari, who works as FMC Architects, will win up to $50,000 for the project, which will renovate part of the former Royal View Primary School on Ridge Road into a center for the elderly.
The estimated cost for the design of the project is approximately $35,000.
Castrovillari will resign from the BZA because of the contract, Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz told cleveland.com on Friday (September 9).
However, Castrovillari was still a board member on Tuesday (September 13), exactly one week after the city council approved his contract for the senior center project.
Castrovillari told cleveland.com on Tuesday that he plans to tender his resignation from the BZA later this week. He said he would meet Wednesday (September 14) with Antoskiewicz and chief legal officer Tom Kelly to discuss the situation.
Antoskiewicz said that although the board approved the contract last week, Castrovillari still hasn’t signed it and won’t sign it until he resigns from the BZA.
Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a good governance group, said it made no difference exactly when the board approved the contract, when Castrovillari signs it or when he resigns.
“The contract solicitation happened while he was on the BZA – that’s the point,” Turcer said. “He was able to look good to get the contract. It doesn’t matter when he signs on the dotted line.
Turcer said those who sit on city boards and commissions have an advantage if they seek employment in the city because they have insider information that other entrepreneurs don’t. They also know the city officials who hire them well.
“It’s just a little too comfortable,” Turcer said.
Turcer said Castrovillari’s resignation from the BZA indicates that city officials knew there was a problem hiring him for the senior center job. She said they could have sought advice from the Ohio Ethics Commission before moving forward with the contract.
Antoskiewicz saw no conflict in hiring Castrovillari.
“He’s a good guy who has an idea of what I want to do on this (senior center) project,” Antoskiewicz said. “He has always been the type of resident who helps North Royalton.
Castrovillari, before being appointed to the BZA by Antoskiewicz in February 2021, was a member of the city’s planning commission from 2013 to January 2021, according to city records. Prior to that, he served on the city’s architectural review board from 2005 to 2013. The ARB has since been disbanded.
According to the FMC Architects website, Castrovillari also served as president, coach and referee of North Royalton Soccer Club over a 10-year period.
“He (Castrovillari) owes me nothing and I owe him nothing,” Antoskiewicz said. “I just know he’s good at what he does.”
Antoskiewicz said the contract to design the senior center is not big in terms of dollars.
“We’re not talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here,” Antoskiewicz said. “I didn’t buy the guy a mansion in the Bahamas. It’s a small contract for a small job.
Castrovillari told cleveland.com he has a good relationship with the city and has walked the Royal View site with city officials.
“Hopefully based on that and my knowledge of the school building, I was the best candidate for the job,” Castrovillari said.
According to FMC’s website, the company is registered to design projects in 15 states, including Ohio. Castrovillari’s latest projects include an office building for Great Lakes Power in Madison; a K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math education center at Mentor; the ComDoc headquarters in North Canton; a Culver’s restaurant in Macedonia; Circuit30 Fitness, a fitness center, in Avon; and a Gracylane gift shop in Orange.
For the North Royalton Senior Center project, North Royalton Schools will lease part of the former Royal View School to the town. The district plans to renovate another section of the school building as a new administrative headquarters.
North Royalton Schools Superintendent Michael Laub said the lease would be for a nominal amount, just enough to cover district expenses.
The former Royal View, Valley Vista and Albion Primary Schools were replaced in the fall of 2021 by the new North Royalton Primary School on State Road.
A Westlake company, Liberty Development Co., plans to build a subdivision on the Valley Vista site, which was demolished.
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