Community

BG serving up local pizza at pool, nature paths in park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local pizza at the pool and nature pathways in the parks are just a slice of what Bowling Green City Parks are offering this summer. Forget the former frozen pizza at the pool in City Park. This year, the concession stand will be selling local pizza, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley announced Tuesday during a board meeting. The city received bids from three local pizza shops, so the decision was made to give each business one month at the pool concession stand. The three pizza shops to sell their slices poolside are Pizza Pub 516, Jet’s and Domino’s. Customers are allowed to order concession stand food without paying for entrance to the pool. The pool is scheduled to open this Saturday for the summer season. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at a shelter house in Carter Park, park naturalist Chris Gajewicz talked about the natural area in the center of Carter Park. While much of the focus at the park is on the baseball fields and Frisbee golf, an area in the park has been allowed to grow up naturally. Paths have been mowed in the woodlot so people can walk through and check out the wildflowers. “It gives Carter Park not just the manicured look,” but also a bit of nature, Gajewicz said. People can often be seen walking through the woodlot. “It shows the power of nature – even the littlest piece of nature can pull them in,” he said. Gajewicz also announced that the recent burn in the nature preserve and birding program offered at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve were very successful. He also talked about the plants sprouting up in Simpson Garden Park and the healing garden there. “Keep coming out to the gardens, because it’s changing all the time,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation coordinator Ivan Kovacevic talked about the start of several summer park programs. Lunch in the Park kicks off…

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East Siders question self-inspections by landlords

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side residents are worried that the city’s rental registry will bear similarities to the fox and the henhouse. Many homeowners on the campus side of the city have long wanted some type of inspection or registration program for rental housing. But the type of program being considered falls short of what East Siders had wanted. The rental registry proposed in the city’s new Community Action Plan calls for self-inspections by landlords. While that’s a good start, it doesn’t go far enough, the residents agreed during a meeting of their neighborhood association. “I don’t let my students grade themselves,” said Neocles Leontis, comparing the self-inspections to self-grading. An East Side resident questioned why self-inspections would be allowed. “Is it because the landlords have money and we don’t,” she asked. Leontis said that parents of college students often assume that rental units undergo fire inspections in Bowling Green. “They are absolutely shocked to learn the places they rent haven’t gone through fire inspections,” he said. “It’s not only about students. It’s about young families,” Leontis said. “Let’s do something before we have a tragedy in town.” If landlords are allowed to do their own inspections, it was suggested that at least a check-off box be included where landlords can identify if a rental unit has undergone a fire inspection. City Council member and East Side resident John Zanfardino agreed. “The registration is only going to be as good as the information on it,” he said. Zanfardino, plus council members Sandy Rowland and Bill Herald agreed the rental registration program may be the best the city can get. “I don’t see BG moving to inspections,” Zanfardino said. Renter satisfaction surveys are also being planned, Zanfardino said. While BGSU offers renter reviews, much of that focuses on apartment complexes, while this will focus on houses. The questions will focus on rental houses having inadequate heat and air conditioning, structural problems, and other issues. Due to…


BG to push pedaling as way to navigate city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants residents to become more comfortable shedding their four-wheeled transportation for the two-wheeled type. But since bike lanes are so expensive, the city is focusing on changing the culture on city streets. That will involve regularly scheduled “slow roll” group rides in the city, to make people more comfortable bicycling in the city. And it will involve the offer of individual training for people who want to start biking to work or school. The efforts will hit full speed this month, which is Bicycle Month. Bowling Green students will attend an assembly by Right Direction BMX team on May 15. The second annual Ride of Silence will be held May 16, 6:30, starting in City Park. The worldwide ride is in honor of those killed or injured in bike accidents. Ride to Work and School Day will be held May 18. And the city’s bicycle “spokesperson” will be named on May 21. On Monday evening, the Bicycle Safety Commission and City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee held a joint meeting. Steve Langendorfer talked about the Yay Bikes initiative to support safe bicycling in Bowling Green. The Yay Bikes program sent consultants to BG to train local bicyclists to become more comfortable riding city streets. Those people will soon be working to spread that awareness to other bicyclists in the city, Langendorfer said. The five people trained locally will offer development bike rides for individuals or for groups. They will cater the training to meet the needs of the riders. Regular community bike rides will also be scheduled to get more people involved. The particular days and times of the rides have not been determined yet. But they will not be strenuous, and will have stops along the route. City Engineer Jason Sisco said that “theme” bike rides are being considered – such as rides that stop at ice cream shops along the way. The goal is to make cyclists more…


Gazebo is taking center stage in BG’s Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amish builder Merle Yoder has built many a gazebo – but never one quite like the structure going up now on Wooster Green. “This is definitely bigger than normal,” Yoder said as he climbed down from his ladder. “It’s been challenging.” Yoder and the rest of the crew from Mt. Hope Fence are erecting the gazebo under the curious eyes of pedestrians, dog-walkers, bicyclists and motorists that pass by the Wooster Green at the corner of West Wooster, South Church and South Grove streets. The crew started by setting posts two weeks ago. They hope to have the 28-foot by 28-foot structure done by the end of next week. Yoder, from Sugar Creek, said the open gazebo will have a metal roof and four sidewalks leading to it. As the structure takes shape, it’s been the focus of much gawking – especially when the nimble workers scamper on top of the gazebo. “I’m excited about it. It looks pretty cool,” said Nadine Edwards, a member of the Wooster Green planning committee. The Mt. Hope firm was hired because of its expertise with such projects. “They’ve done gazebos and pavilions all over,” Nadine Edwards said. But this one is different, Yoder said. “This is the first one so big,” he stressed. “I really enjoy the challenge of something out of the ordinary.” Mayor Dick Edwards is one of the many people keeping an eye on the construction. “They’ve been sticking right with it. We’ve really enjoyed working with them,” he said. Once the work at Wooster Green is completed, the gazebo is intended to be used for community gatherings, small-scale musical events, and other events. The official launch of the fundraising for the location is scheduled for June 1, at 4 p.m. Though the campaign hasn’t started yet, city residents and businesses have already helped with the expenses. “People have stepped forward in advance of the public fundraising campaign,” the mayor said. One…


Voters reject BG School’s bond issue for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was left bruised and battered Tuesday evening – from both a bitter levy campaign and a biting defeat at the polls. The district’s second attempt to pass a 5.7-mill bond issue for 37 years went down by a bigger margin than its first loss. The unofficial total on Tuesday night was 2,845 (40 percent) to 4,218 (60 percent). That compares to November’s vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “We are very disappointed,” school board President Jill Carr said late Tuesday evening. “We’re so committed to getting our facilities back to the high quality they were,” Carr said of the $72 million plan to consolidate the three elementaries, plus renovate and add onto the high school. “We wanted the best for students, teachers and community as a whole.” But many did not like the plan – either because of its effect on their pocketbooks or because it meant the end to “neighborhood” schools. Steve Bateson, one of those leading the opposition to the levy, issued a statement after the election results were in. “The voters joined together and spoke, defeating the bond issue for a variety of reasons. Some voters believe neighborhood schools are important, others felt that the additional tax was unfair,” he wrote. “This bond issue has been defeated twice and we hope the school board respects the decision of the voters and moves forward with a new plan that all members of our school district family can support for the success of our students and community,” Bateson stated. But finding a plan that all members of the district can support may be difficult. The school board brought in a school taxation expert who said the board’s request for a property tax was the best decision for the majority of the district residents. Principals at the schools offered Saturday tours to the public so show the poor condition of the buildings. But…


BG asked to monitor pipeline crossing of Maumee River

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One of the strongest voices against the Nexus pipeline was back at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. He lost his battle to stop the pipeline with a charter amendment – so he is now hoping to make sure construction of the line is monitored for safety. Brad Holmes asked for confirmation that the city will keep its commitment to monitor the pipeline underground crossing of the Maumee River. City officials assured that they would. The natural gas Nexus pipeline will run from eastern Ohio to Canada, and be buried just 800 feet from Bowling Green’s water treatment plant along its route. So Holmes said he was asking for the line to be monitored on behalf of all the people who rely on the city’s water. Holmes mentioned the poor environmental record of Rover Pipeline, which has spilled drilling fluid during its construction process in southern Ohio. The Nexus line is currently under construction and will likely be done by the end of summer. Mayor Dick Edwards said he has every intention to work very closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “They are the ones who will be doing the monitoring” since they have the equipment and knowledge, he said. Edwards said he will keep council and the public in the loop on when the river crossing work is scheduled. Council President Mike Aspacher said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler promised his agency would be very hands-on during the river crossing construction. “We’re very well on the record with our concerns,” he said. And the Ohio EPA was responsive. “They are very mindful of the lessons they learned in southern Ohio,” from the Rover spills, Aspacher said. Council member John Zanfardino agreed. “They were going to be heightening their monitoring,” he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Aspacher congratulated council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and Zanfardino for coming up with a food truck ordinance. City…


Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are…