Local Government Update

BG council hears praise for storm response; sets goals for 2019

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The response of Bowling Green Public Works Division and other city workers to this past weekend’s storm drew praise at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The expressions of gratitude started at the top of the meeting with resident Nathan Eberly saying he appreciated how well the roads were maintained. The crews did “a great job… especially considering it was a holiday weekend.” Mayor Dick Edwards said he appreciated that Brian Craft, the director of Public Works, and Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator, were on duty throughout the weekend keeping him abreast of conditions. Edwards said that the Fire Division was also busy assisting people who had fallen because of the slippery conditions. Fawcett said that the decision to declare a snow emergency at 9 a.m. Saturday came before the requisite two inches had fallen. Officials knew from the forecast the more snow was on the way.  That would ordinarily mean residents had two hours, until 11 a.m., to move their vehicles off snow streets. But city crews started by clearing the roads along the perimeter of the city, so police didn’t start enforcing the parking ban until 3 p.m. Fawcett praised residents’ response to the declaration.He said that six vehicles had to be towed, and 20 tickets were issued.  He made a distinction between the county’s snow emergency levels and the city’s that only address parking both for the safety and efficiency of city plowing crews. The Police Department responded to 19 calls for immobile vehicles, he reported. Fawcett said that he and Craft got together as soon as they saw the forecast to come up with a game plan, and that forethought paid off. Craft said he hadn’t planned on giving a report at the meeting, but spoke to acknowledge the praise voiced by others.  He also thanked the citizens for providing the funding for the equipment his workers use to clear the snow. Also at the meeting, Council president Mike Aspacher presented the council’s four goals for the coming year. The goals were developed following discussions at the council’s annual strategic planning session held earlier this month. The first goal, Aspacher said, is to continue to pursue improvements called for in the Community Action Plan. These include sidewalk improvements, consideration of a housing exterior maintenance code, discussion of rental registration, and support of the new Historic Preservation Commission. The second, he said, was to look at economic development opportunities especially in the East Wooster Corridor. The third is to develop a city council statement of support for the city schools and discuss the importance of the schools in the community. The fourth is to address what had been called the Bowling Green Citizen experience. Aspacher said council needs to work with the administration “on ways we can improve communication with residents.” Bruce Jeffords said that Aspacher had done a good job encapsulating what had been discussed at the strategic planning session. Aspacher said these goals will not be met within the year, just as work started in previous years continues. “A number of the things we’re focused on in our community are long range, multifaceted, complicated things that will take a lot of time, patience, and resources to implement.” These, however ,are not all the council will focus on Greg Robinette said that members of council will continue to address issues that arise in the committees they sit on. In line with that, John Zanfardino scheduled a meeting on bicycling issues for Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. Mark Hollenbaugh set a meeting of the Community Improvement Committee for Feb 19 at 6 p.m….

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Community Center to trim Friday night hours

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’ll be Friday night lights out a littler earlier at the Bowling Green Community Center starting Feb. 3. At Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Director Kristin Otley announced the center will close at 7 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. A census of usage found an average of eight people using the facility from 7 to 8 p.m. and two using it from 8 to 9 p.m. Few people use the facility at that time, but the lights still have to be on and three staff members have to be on duty. It costs the center $91 an hour to stay open. The change will save the department about $8,100 annually. This will mean the center is open 91.5 hours from January through the day after Memorial Day, and 87.5 hours a week during the summer. Tim Stubbs, facilities coordinator, said the change “has been on the backburner for years,” and the administration finally decided “pull the trigger.” Some people question the reduction given the department just passed a levy, but Otley said “we still need to be good stewards of those tax dollars.” Mayor Dick Edwards asked if the department was looking at ways to increase usage. He noted that income is down even though the center always gets “glowing reports” from the public. Otley said that competition has increased as other fitness centers have entered the market, and “Bowling Green is the same size it was.” Ivan Kovacevic, the recreation coordinator, said a drop off in attendance is evident whenever a new center opens.   Stubbs said sometimes other facilities offer reduced rates to start. Once the rates return to normal, some people leave. “In my experience we’ll pick some of these people back up,” he said. Otley also said that the Silver Sneakers program, which encourages older people to exercise, is a good deal for the participants, but it can cost the recreation center revenue. If a senior citizen buys a pass to the Community Center, the center gets the money no matter how many times the member visits. With Silver Sneakers, the center only gets the $2.50 reimbursement whenever the senior swipes their card. If the senior visits eight times a month, that’s fine, but if they only come twice a month, that’s lost income. Otley said the department is looking at increased programming to attract seniors to the facility. Stubbs said that with the first phase of the improvements at Wintergarden completed, planning is underway on the second phase. The initial building plans didn’t have what the department was looking for so new plans are being drawn up. Otley handed out the schedule of fees for the aquatic center with the intent of having a discussion about fees in February. City Council would have to approve any changes in the fees in March for them to take effect this summer. Kovacevic reported that Aquatic Center usage was up over 20 percent in 2016 with 46,291 people using the pool. Increases were seen both in those with season passes and in those paying daily fees.

Section of East Court closed Jan. 25

The Bowling Green Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division will close East Court Street, from North Summit to North Enterprise, on Wednesday,  Jan. 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The closure is required as part of sewer repair work along East Court Street. Questions about this work may be directed to the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division at 419-354-6277.

Armstrong joins water & sewer district board

From NORTHWESTERN WATER & SEWER DISTRICT Rob Armstrong of Perrysburg Township was appointed today to fill an open board seat at the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. Armstrong has lived in Perrysburg and Lake Townships for the past 38 years.  He is the President of Bennett Enterprises, a hospitality company operating hotels and restaurants in Northwest Ohio including the Frisch’s Big Boy and Ralphie’s restaurants as well as the French Quarter.  Armstrong served one term on the Lake Local School Board and also served briefly as a Perrysburg Township Trustee on an interim basis. Armstrong will fill the vacant position of retired member Lyle Schulte. He was sworn in for his three-year term with the District today.  His current term expires December, 2019. Also today, Leonard Michaels, from the City of Rossford, was reappointed to the District’s Board of Trustees.  Mr. Michaels is a licensed professional engineer in Ohio and Michigan and is also a former councilman for the City of Rossford. Founding board member John Cheney will also return to the board.  Mr. Cheney resides in Henry Township and has served on the board since July of 1992. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District’s board members are appointed three each by the townships, municipalities and Wood County Commissioners. They serve approximately 16,000 customers in Wood, Sandusky and Hancock County.

Cheney reappointed to water & sewer district board

By NORTHWESTERN WATER & SEWER DISTRICT John Cheney, long-time resident of Henry Township, was reappointed to the Northwestern Water and Sewer District board effective January 1, 2017. Mr. Cheney is the longest-term board member of the District’s nine-person board of directors.  He was first appointed to the planning organization looking to form the District in 1992. He will start his 25th year with the District when his new three-year term starts in 2017.  He has served as an officer of the District on several occasions in the past. As one of the nine board members of the District, he is appointed as one of three Wood County Commissioner board members, joining three others appointed by the Wood County townships and three other from Wood County Municipalities.   Board members are responsible for the overall operations of the District, who now serves over 19,000 accounts in the region with approximately $200 million in assets with 65 employees. “We’ve come a long way during my tenure here with the District and it’s been a gratifying experience serving all ends of the County,” says John Cheney.

BG streets closed, parking restricted during BSAF weekend

In conjunction with the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival scheduled for September 9, 10, and 11, certain street closures and parking restrictions will be imposed in downtown Bowling Green. Beginning at 6:00 am on Thursday, September 8, the eastern portion of City Parking Lot 2 will be closed. The entire lot will be closed beginning Friday, September 9 at 6:00 am. At 3:00 am on Saturday, September 10, on-street parking will be prohibited in the following locations: Main Street between Clay and Pearl; Prospect between East Wooster and Clough; Clay between Main and Grove; and Clough between Main and S. Prospect. Any vehicle parked in these restricted areas after 3:00 am on Saturday will be towed at the owner’s expense. At 4:00 am on Saturday, September 10, Main Street, between Clay and Pearl, will be closed to vehicular traffic. While Main Street is closed, no through traffic will be permitted on Oak, Court, Clough and Washington Streets. Wooster Street will remain open for east and westbound traffic throughout the festival. During the Main Street closing, detour routes for local and truck traffic will be posted. Throughout the event, shuttle buses will pick up visitors at the Bowling Green High School, Wood County Fairgrounds, Meijer, and Bowling Green State University. The buses will drop visitors off downtown at the Frontier Communications building as well as the Bowling Green Police Division. All streets will reopen and parking will be reinstated on Sunday evening.

First Community Action Plan meeting, Aug. 30

The City of Bowling Green is hosting the first community meeting for the Community Action Plan, Aug. 30 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Crim Elementary, 1020 Scott Hamilton Dr. The Community Action Plan will advance goals from the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update by identifying city-wide neighborhood improvements. Call the Planning Department at 419-354-6218 or visit the Planning Department webpage for questions. The City of BG hired Camiros, Ltd. (http://www.camiros.com/) for this project.