Wooster Green

BG Council moves ahead on buying downtown property

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council took the first steps Monday to create more metered parking downtown, provide restrooms for Wooster Green, and preserve the location of Four Corners Center. Council evoked an emergency clause so it could have both the first and second readings of an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. But one citizen, Nathan Eberly, questioned whether or not the city could handle such an expense. “After hearing for two years that we have budget issues,” Eberly said. “What risk is the city taking that might be an undue burden?” Eberly also criticized the council for pushing ahead on the issue, without allowing for three separate readings to give the public an opportunity to speak on the land purchase. Council assured him that while the bonds ordinance was moving along quickly, the actual property purchase would be given three separate readings. Some on council tried to explain the wisdom in the property purchase. “Mr. Eberly raises a legitimate question,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “We have to be careful,” Jeffers agreed. However, the land became available and city officials saw an opportunity. “We tend to look at the big picture and the long term,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland echoed that support for the land purchases. “Sometimes an opportunity falls at your feet,” she said. “You just couldn’t ask for anything better. We had one opportunity to buy it at a good price.” The purchase covers four properties. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building bathrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials to discuss the building. The landowner also owns a nearby parking area behind Ben’s and the building at 130 S. Main St. – the current home of the Four Corners Center. While city officials are not interested in owning the Four Corners Center building, they recognize the community value of that site. Located there are the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG, and Economic Development office. The lease for that building expires on Dec. 5, 2020. So, if the city acquires the LLC that owns the building and holds the lease, it can take ownership of the lease – ensuring no changes for the tenants. City officials then plan to sell that building prior to its lease expiring, with a provision that the Four Corners Center be given a lease arrangement for the building with a rental amount set. “Often in Bowling Green we talk about the importance of our downtown,” Council President Mike Aspacher said. “We want to acquire property that is going to support the mission of the downtown.” Four Corners Center is not only used for the four agencies housed there, but has become a community meeting space, Aspacher pointed out. The cost for the mini-bank area, parking lot behind Ben’s, and building at 130 S. Main St. will be $730,000. Also being sold are the building at 123…


BG may buy land downtown; build restrooms by Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green officials are taking steps to purchase land for public restrooms by Wooster Green, parking areas on South Church Street and the home of the Four Corner Center on South Main Street. On Monday evening, City Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building bathrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials to discuss the building. The landowner also owns a nearby parking area behind Ben’s and the building at 130 S. Main St. – the current home of the Four Corners Center. According to the council agenda, the property owner said that all the parcels will be sold together. While city officials are not interested in owning the Four Corners Center building, they recognize the community value of that site. Located there are the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG, and Economic Development office. The lease for that building expires on Dec. 5, 2020. So, if the city acquires the LLC that owns the building and holds the lease, it can take ownership of the lease – ensuring no changes for the tenants. City officials then plan to sell that building prior to its lease expiring, with a provision that the Four Corners Center be given a lease arrangement for the building with a rental amount set. The cost for the mini-bank area, parking lot behind Ben’s, and building at 130 S. Main St. will be $730,000. But there’s more ….. The building at 123 S. Church St., currently housing Bowling Green Mirror and Glass, owned by the Bortel family, plus the parking lot to the west of that building are also being sold. An unspecified downtown business owner has decided to purchase that building and the parking spaces to the south of that building. However, the buyer has no interest in the other parking area located between the Huntington ATM location and parking lot behind Ben’s. So the prospective new owner is willing to work with the city so that the purchase can be split, leaving the city with the large parking area that will connect the other two property purchases along South Church Street. The cost will be $325,000. If all the purchases go as planned, the city will work on reconfiguring the parking lots for improved traffic flow, driveway consolidation and improved aesthetics. Because of lease arrangements on the land, substantial work can’t be done on the property until after the leases expire in late 2020.


BG citizens will get to vote on sculpture for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green citizens will get a chance to vote on another major component of Wooster Green – the sculpture that will stand opposite the gazebo. Those keeping an eye on the green space at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets may have noticed that a circular sidewalk was poured on Monday. The sidewalk and benches will surround a sculpture yet to be created. A request will go out soon for local artists to submit concepts for sculptures that speak of the site where the artwork will sit – with Wooster Green taking the 1.2 acres that were previously home to the city’s senior high, then later the junior high school. “It will try to capture the history of the site and Bowling Green,” Mayor Dick Edwards said on Monday evening. “It’s a marvelous opportunity for something.” The sculpture should reflect the value of education and the learning that took place on that site, said Sharon Hanna, who is coordinating the fundraising for Wooster Green. Hanna said a committee will likely vet the sculpture designs then ask the public to make the final decision. Though some have suggested that a type of water feature would be attractive with the sculpture, Edwards noted water fountains as part of public art “can be problematic.” Citizens selected the layout of Wooster Green through a similar voting process. “We’re anxiously awaiting what will go there,” Hanna said. Two local families have donated funds for the sculpture. They remain anonymous for now. Later this week, the interior sidewalks of the Wooster Green should be installed, said Brian Craft, director of public works for the city. Later this fall, the space will have irrigation installed and grass planted. And next spring, the entryway will be constructed at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. The space will also include trees and other landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style used downtown. Plans also call for places where people can plug in to charge their handheld devices. “It’s something that has been missing from our historic downtown landscape,” Edwards said of Wooster Green. Donations and grants are still being sought for the project, since no city money is going toward the construction of the site. The estimated total cost for the site will be $450,000 – with about $350,000 being raised so far. “We’ve had a nice response,” Edwards said. “We continue to get a lot of interest.” Among the “generous” private donors are Tom and Dianne Klein, who donated $50,000 for the gazebo, the Rotary Club which donated funds for the entryway, and the Kiwanis Club which donated for the irrigation on the site. The mayor mentioned Monday that efforts are still being made to find options for public restrooms that would service the green space. Edwards said the possibility of grant funding is being studied.


BG joins the nation in rallying for immigrant families

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 250 Bowling Green citizens sweltered in the sun Saturday to add their voices to the national cry for justice for families seeking refuge in America. They gathered on Wooster Green to be counted among the 800-plus rallies held across the nation today with their top message being – families belong together. They held signs saying “Resist Hate,” “Reunite Broken Hearts,” and “The Pilgrims were Undocumented.” They came to say their country doesn’t treat people with such cruelty. And their Christianity doesn’t turn away people in need. They listened as Dr. Bill Donnelly, a psychologist who specializes in the care of children, talked about the traumatic effects the forced separations will have on children taken from their parents as they cross the southern U.S. border. “There will be devastating consequences for children and their family members,” Donnelly said. Decades of research show that children forcibly taken from their families are likely to suffer long-term problems of anxiety, depression, panic and grief, he said. “There is nothing more important for the mental health and physical health of a child,” than being with family, Donnelly said. Children crossing the border with their parents had already undergone great stress making the dangerous trek into the U.S. “They’re not coming in a luxury train,” he said. “Children rely on their parents for support in difficult times.” Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order that children no longer be separated from their parents at the border, very few families have been reunited. More than 2,000 children are still being held in detention centers, and it appears that in many cases, the federal government does not know where some separated children are so they can be reunited with parents. “This policy is needless and cruel,” Donnelly said. “We know children are not reunited with their parents.” It’s that image that brought Sheila Brown to Saturday’s rally. “I’m here to help support immigrant families,” Brown said. “I can’t even fathom having my children torn from me just because I’m looking for a better life for them.” The rally began with Tim Concannon’s singing of “This Land is Your Land,” a folk song written by Woody Guthrie scolding Americans who didn’t want to share their country. Despite national policy, Bowling Green City Council members Bruce Jeffers and John Zanfardino talked about local efforts to make immigrants feel comfortable in Bowling Green. “Bowling Green has welcomed immigrants naturally forever,” Jeffers said. “Then Trump was elected.” So City Council considered how to “help with the new reality,” he said. “We cannot change federal law.” But the city did adopt an ordinance declaring the city a welcoming community. “We try to do what we can locally,” Jeffers said. The city needs immigrants as a vital part of the local workforce, he added. Plus, it is just the right thing to do. “We are a welcoming community,” Jeffers said. “We believe in the essential goodness of humanity.” Often immigrant workers perform the jobs that would otherwise go unfilled, said Beatriz Maya, head of LaConexion. “We are heavy contributors,” Maya said. “We do the work no domestic workers want to do.” The federal crack down on immigrants is not just affecting distant borders, speakers reminded the crowd. At least four undocumented immigrants in Wood County have been picked up and detained by ICE. Jeffers, a local teacher, told of one of his students whose father was picked up for a traffic violation and is now being held in an ICE detention center. The man has three children, all who are American citizens. “What’s going to happen…


BG embraces gazebo built by community dedication and family donation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the band played, and the rain clouds respectfully waited, townspeople wrapped around the new gazebo in Bowling Green’s Wooster Green Friday afternoon with a community embrace. “Four generations of my family graduated from school here,” Wendy Novotny said of the green space that now sprawls where the Bowling Green high school then junior high stood. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Others felt the same way, and by time the dedication began, the walkway surrounding the gazebo was packed with people. The gazebo is the first structure on the 1.2-acre space at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “It’s a great beginning,” said Bob Callecod, who has worked on the Wooster Green project. “It’s really a great send off for the entire project. This is going to be a great addition to our community.” Tom and Dianne Klein believed so much in the value of the town gathering space, that they donated the $50,000 needed to construct the gazebo. Their contribution was in honor of their parents Meredith and Gloria Davis, and Milt and Ruth Klein. Gloria Davis, 92, was there for the dedication. “I think it’s beautiful. I love it,” she said. “I love to hear the band play, and the kids sing. I think it’s lovely.” The generosity was a payback to the community they cherish for Tom, a retired BGSU professor, and Dianne, a retired BGHS teacher. “This has become our hometown,” Dianne Klein said. “We would like it to flourish.” The green gathering place is consistent with Tom Klein’s philosophy, he said. “From the time I was 7 years old, I was an organizer and gatherer of people.” The gazebo and surrounding space will fulfill that purpose, he said. “This will bring people together to talk, to learn, to have fun, to support diversity,” Tom said. He’s hoping the space will go one step further. “Spaces like this make social change happen.” The idea for Wooster Green was born in 2013 with a letter penned by Diane Vogtsberger – another retired BG teacher – to Mayor Dick Edwards. The old junior high had been torn down, and the fate of the open space was unknown. In her letter, which the mayor had saved and displayed on Friday, Vogtsberger wrote about traditional American small towns that are defined by their public spaces. “Creating this town square is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Vogtsberger said at the dedication. And what better place than the former site of a school, so it could be a tribute to all who attended and taught there, she said. “I just want to thank everyone for making this a reality,” she said. Her letter may have planted the seed, but others in the community then started nurturing the idea. Eric Myers led a green space task force, which then led to City Council taking action to preserve the land as a public site. Nadine Edwards and Dick Newlove took the next shift by heading the citizens group making plans for the site. Poggemeyer Design Group donated its expertise on the site as the business’ 50th anniversary gift to the community. And City Council President Mike Aspacher donned his hardhat and used his construction skills to help as the gazebo was built. The team of people behind the site could barely fit behind the giant ribbon for the official ribbon cutting. But now the Wooster Green project will be turning to the rest of the community to help with its next steps. Soon, a fundraising campaign will begin to help…


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 donor – who will be recognized on June 1 – gave the entire $50,000 needed for the gazebo. Betco has donated the topsoil that will be needed at the site. And Poggemeyer Design Group donated its design skills in honor of the firm’s 50th anniversary. “They elected to do this project pro bono. That’s been enormously helpful,” Dick Edwards said. The goal is to raise a total of $435,000 for the site. While building Wooster Green is expected to cost $350,000, the rest of the money will be set aside for future needs. “We wanted an endowment to help maintain the property over the long haul,” Dick Edwards said. Though the gazebo is the most visible improvement to the site, much of the other work won’t be completed till next year. In 2019, the entry gate wall will be constructed, plantings will be completed, and sidewalks will be installed. “By this time next year, I really hope it’s nearly done,” the mayor said. “This has been a long-involved process. People are all excited.”  


Digging begins for gazebo in BG’s Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dirt has been moved on the Wooster Green to make way for the gazebo on the town’s new gathering place. Mayor Dick Edwards announced at Bowling Green City Council meeting on Monday evening that the site will be officially dedicated by the community on June 1, at 4 p.m. Workers are “taking advantage of the relatively good weather” to make progress on the site, Edwards said. The Wooster Green improvements are being funded by private donations. The mayor said Monday evening that nearly 60 percent of the funding is in – despite the fact that the fundraising campaign hasn’t officially started. The estimated cost of Wooster Green is $300,000. A number of “thoughtful citizens” have made contributions, with one family donating the entire amount needed for the gazebo, Edwards said. The green space design includes an arched entry, a display area for a sculpture, and a gazebo-like structure. The structure will have a more open and contemporary look, but have the traditional cupola on top. It will be equipped with sound amplification. The space will include tree-lined streets, other landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style used downtown. Plans also call for places where people can plug in to charge their handheld devices. Restrooms and water fountains are not included in the plans because of the expense. The site is intended to be a community gathering space, not a venue for huge events. “Right from the very beginning, we’ve said this is going to be a passive space,” Edwards said last year.


Exchange Club kicks in $10,000 for Wooster Green

From THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF BOWLING GREEN The Exchange Club of Bowling Green has donated $10,000 towards the development of the Wooster Green Project.  “Wooster Green is an important community effort that will greatly enhance the quality of life in Bowling Green and the Exchange Club is pleased to support this project,” said Club President Jenny Swope.  “We think it will be an exciting addition to our city and we are proud to join other community groups and individuals in helping Wooster Green become a reality,” she added. Since its 1946 founding in Bowling Green, the Exchange Club has a long history of supporting community organizations and programs, including scholarships for Bowling Green High School students, charitable work, donations to community organizations, and participating in community events. Prevention of child abuse is a prime club focus. Funds to support its philanthropy efforts comes primarily from the Exchange Club’s annual pancake breakfast, which this year will be March 17 in the Bowling Green High School cafeteria, and a Reverse Raffle. The Exchange Club meets at noon on Tuesdays at Stone Ridge Golf Club. Visitors are welcome to learn more about the Club and its upcoming events.


BG to get a new look – and new smell – in 2018

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green will be getting some makeovers this year. People entering the city from Interstate 75 will encounter a new look on East Wooster Street and less odors from the wastewater plant. In the downtown area, the new Wooster Green is scheduled to get a gazebo this spring. Mayor Dick Edwards, one of the main forces behind the Wooster Green project, reported to City Council Tuesday that in late April or early May, the gazebo will be built on the Wooster Green at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. Edwards also noted that more than $230,000 had already been pledged for the project. A sign has been erected in the green space, showing the proposed entry for the community gathering space. The East Wooster Street corridor is getting multiple crosswalks, which should be completed this spring, Public Works Director Brian Craft reported. Preliminary work will begin for the roundabouts at the Interstate 75 interchanges. Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said odor control measures will be installed at the wastewaster plant this spring. The plant, which sits along I-75, has been the source of many complaints about unappealing odors. And the city will begin tackling goals of the Community Action Plan – Neighborhood Revitalization Project. Planning Director Heather Sayler reported that the presentation of the Community Action Plan will be Feb. 28, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. On the business side, the mayor and Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter will be joining BG Economic Development Director Sue Clark for their annual visits to local manufacturers and other businesses in the community. Edwards said the visits are “eye-opening experiences” that are “reassuring.” “From all reports to date, we have every reason to believe that the economic growth and robust economic climate experienced by the city will continue in 2018,” Edwards said. The city hosted 30 ribbon cutting ceremonies in 2017 – a record, the mayor said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, retiring Fire Chief Tom Sanderson was recognized by many city officials for a job very well done. (BG Independent News will have a feature story on Sanderson later this week.) Bill Moorman will be sworn in as the city’s new fire chief on Feb. 5. In other business, council member Bruce Jeffers asked about the new bike sharrows “taking a beating” from the snowplows. Craft explained that the sharrows come off easily when hit by snowplow blades. They will have to be repainted, he said. Jeffers also asked about the possible impact of business income tax collection changes, which will allow the state to keep a portion of the tax revenue. Rob Wright, city tax commissioner, said the impact will depend on the number of businesses that opt into the state collection program. So far, just six or seven Bowling Green businesses have signed up. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting: The mayor reported that interim BGSU President Rodney Rogers has assured him that the various projects involving the city and university will continue despite the retirement of Mary Ellen Mazey. Rogers also reaffirmed BGSU’s commitment to communication between the city and university. Council was reminded of a city council planning session being held Saturday at 9 a.m., in council chambers. O’Connell reported the city has experienced very few power outages or water breaks due to winter weather. Tretter reminded that citizens could make it easier for public works crews to clear snow if they got their vehicles off the street. Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley noted that the 12th annual Brown Bag Music Series starts on…


BG considers policies for use of Wooster Green site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The design for the new Wooster Green has been determined, so the city is working to nail down rules for how the space can best serve its role as a public gathering place. The goal is for the open space at the corner of West Wooster Street and South Church Street to enhance the quality of life for Bowling Green residents, welcome visitors to the city, and increase commerce in the downtown. It has been recommended that the space be free and open to the public, except when previously reserved. The recommended rules (or policies) are as follows: – Amplified music or sound shall not be used unless previously authorized by the governing board. Such use shall not occur past 10 p.m. on weekdays (Monday-Thursday and Sunday) and 11 p.m. on the weekend (Friday and Saturday). These times may be amended by the governing board. – The sale and use of alcohol shall be done in accordance with applicable city ordinances and with the Ohio Revised Code. –  No one may use the space between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless previously authorized by the governing board or the municipal administrator. –  Vehicles shall remain on the access road, or another designed vehicular point-of-entry, unless authorized by the municipal administrator or governing board. –  Those reserving or using the space shall not drive any stakes or rods into the ground unless authorized by the municipal administrator. Restriction of this type of activity is recommended to protect underground infrastructure. –  Any hanging or securing of displays and/or decorations should only be done in a manner that will not permanently alter the physical condition of the space/structures or materially alter their appearance. –  The governing board or municipal administrator may make exceptions to any of these policies. In the case of the municipal administrator, if an exception is granted or allowed, he/she should inform the other members of the governing board in a reasonable timeframe of such exception along with some type of explanation as to why the exception was granted. The following policy was suggested for reserving the space: – The mayor/municipal administrator’s office is recommended to be responsible for keeping track of the use of the space (i.e. reservations) and assisting in calling meetings of the governing board. This includes maintaining a spreadsheet or some other mechanism for tracking when the space is open for reservations and not. –  A permit request form should be used for those wanting exclusive use of the pavilion. The exclusive use of the pavilion is recommended; however, the rest of the space should be left open for public use. The exception to that is if an organization is filing a special event permit for use of the Wooster Green for an event which would be open to the public. Further, it is recommended that only pavilion use permits and special event permits for the entire site submitted 30 days in advance be considered, which may be waived by the municipal administrator. –  A reservation fee should be applied and a security deposit of no less than $100 should be collected before any group may reserve the space (both of which may be waived by the municipal administrator and/or the governing board.) The security deposit may be used to return the space to pre-reservation state. An “a la carte” fee structure should also be developed for support from the city including, but not limited to: Public Works – garbage/recycling; verify or inspect requested location of tent/structure placement along with grounding mechanism; Police Division; Fire…


Citizens gather on Wooster Green to defend DACA

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Yvette Llanas, a lifelong Bowling Green resident and American citizen, never dreamed the threat of deportation would touch her family. Llanas found out last week she was wrong. “I never thought this would affect me,” Llanas said in an impromptu speech on the Wooster Green Sunday evening during a rally opposing President Donald Trump’s action to end DACA. “My daughter-in-law happens to be undocumented,” Llanas said. “The decision made this week just crushed my soul.” Her daughter-in-law came to America as a small child. “This is the only home she knows,” Llanas said. “She is part of our country,” as are her two children. “We are all immigrants here, somehow, some way,” Llanas said. About 60 local residents gathered in the Wooster Green to express their opposition to Trump’s announcement last week that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years. “This is really targeting kids who were brought by their parents at a very early age,” said Beatriz Maya, of the La Conexion organization. “They don’t know any other life. It makes no sense for them to be deported. It’s very wrong. They cannot be blamed for anything.” Those attending the rally were asked to contact their congress members about the DACA issue. “The Dreamers don’t want citizenship just for themselves,” Maya said. “They want comprehensive immigration reform for 11 million undocumented immigrants, who have been contributing to the nation for many, many years.” Jorge Chavez, president of the La Conexion organization, presented his comments in Spanish and English. “I am blessed and lucky because I don’t have to be afraid,” said Chavez, who is a BGSU professor, a father and a husband. The DACA program helped about 800,000 people previously at risk of deportation. “This program allowed them to come out of the shadows, to drive, to work,” he said. “They are our friends. They are our neighbors. They are business leaders. They are us. There is no division here,” Chavez said. “America is stronger because of her diversity.” “If they lose out, we all lose out,” he said. “I urge you, we have less than six months to act.” Bowling Green’s city administration was represented at the rally, showing support for DACA. Council member Sandy Rowland read a statement by Mayor Dick Edwards stressing the city’s welcoming platform for immigrants. Council member Daniel Gordon noted the frequent rallies being held recently in the Wooster Green. “It’s a shame we have to keep coming out here,” he said. But citizens can’t sit by while Trump dismantles the DACA program. “What’s going on here is morally obscene. It will rip their families apart and take them from the only families they have ever known,” Gordon said. Ending DACA is not only cruel, “frankly, it’s un-American.” Gordon suggested that citizens flood the phone lines of congressional members. “An attack on some of us is an attack on all of us,” he said. Council member Bruce Jeffers talked about the economic side of the DACA issue. Not only is the ending of DACA…


Long-awaited design selected for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The public spoke – at least 272 of them – and overwhelmingly supported the more meandering, less symmetrical plan for Wooster Green. So on Thursday, the Wooster Green steering committee made it official and voted to go with Option 2 for the 1.2 acres of green space where the junior high used to sit at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “You’ve listened to the public. You made a decision. Now we can move forward with a plan,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said to the group. Following a public meeting about the green space plans and a week of two possible designs being displayed in the library, the steering committee received 150 online reactions and 122 written surveys on the designs. Option 1 was a more symmetrical design, with the walkways forming an “X” on the site. Option 2 was a more casual look, with a meandering path. “There was clearly a preference for option No. 2,” said Bob Callecod, who is co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee with Ann-Marie Lancaster. Comments on Option 1 referred to the plan as too formal, boring, and having too many sidewalks, Callecod said. Comments on Option 2 used words such as “pleasing, relaxed and organic,” he added. “They liked it because of the gentleness of it,” Callecod said of the plan with curved walkways and more open green space. “I think we got reasonably good participation,” Lancaster said of the community response. “People want to preserve a lot of the green space, and minimize the amount of concrete. Those were two driving factors in this design.” Some residents asked questions on the surveys about restrooms, water fountains, trees, benches and parking. Those were not included in the initial plan because the design was just looking at the placement of three major components – an arched entry, a display area for a sculpture, and a gazebo-like structure. The space will include tree-lined streets, other landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style used downtown. Plans also call for places where people can plug in to charge their handheld devices. Restrooms and water fountains are not included in the plans because of the expense. One survey questioned how the city can afford building Wooster Green. Donations and grants will be sought for the project, with no city money going toward the construction of the site. The estimated cost of Wooster Green is $300,000. Though the biggest hurdle of the major design is now complete, the type of gazebo or pavilion being considered was still a matter of contention on Thursday. The steering committee has been using the word “pavilion,” but using a structure that looks more like a gazebo in its drawings. That led to two citizens, Jennifer Karches and Todd Childers, to express their concerns at Thursday’s meeting. “I feel we will be making a big mistake if we build a gazebo,” Karches said. Gazebos are more limited in uses than open pavilions. She suggested a larger, more open tent, sail-like structure. “We’re really, really concerned you’re going to be handcuffed with a gazebo.” Mayor Dick Edwards said the site is intended to be a community gathering space, not a venue for huge events. “Right from the very beginning, we’ve said this is going to be a passive space.” In response to Karches’ concerns that a gazebo would not be attractive to millennials, Edwards said that millennials actually have a real appreciation for historic structures. The Wooster Green will be designed to fit in with the nearly…


BG citizens asked for input on Wooster Green designs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Plans for Wooster Green were pitched to city residents Wednesday afternoon. Now the wait begins to see if either pitch results in a home run. For four years, sketches have been drawn, erased and redrawn. Ideas have been shot down and replaced. Finally, the field has been narrowed down to two possibilities for Wooster Green. And now the public is being asked to weigh in. “It’s reaction time,” said Mayor Dick Edwards during the public meeting at Wood County District Public Library on Wednesday. Option 1 is a more symmetrical design, with the walkways forming an “X” on the site. Option 2 has a more casual look, with a meandering path. “They are both great options,” said Troy Sonner, of Poggemeyer Design Group, which is working on the plans at no cost as the firm’s 50th anniversary gift to the community. The plans will remain on display in the library through July 26. Paper feedback forms will be available. The plans will also appear on the city’s website, where online opinions may be submitted. “It’s really important for you to give us your feedback,” said Anne-Marie Lancaster, co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee for Wooster Green. Once a design is finalized, the fundraising will begin. It is estimated the site will cost about $300,000, according to the mayor. Donations and grants will be sought for the project, with no city money going toward the construction of the site. The 1.2-acre Wooster Green is located on the south side of West Wooster Street, close to the downtown, between South Church and South Grove streets. The site was formerly home to the Bowling Green Junior High. The two design options have several similarities. Both plans include the three main elements of an arched entry at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets, a pavilion and a display area possibly for a sculpture. Both include tree-lined streets, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style used downtown. Plans also call for places where people can plug in to charge their handheld devices. Both options include less pavement than the original plan for the green space – at the public’s request, Sonner said. “There’s a pretty significant reduction from the original plan,” he said. With 6-foot wide walkways, and a wider pathway to the pavilion, Option 1 has about 7,000 square feet of concrete. Option 2 has less, with about 5,800 square feet of pavement. But one citizen in the audience cautioned that “regardless of where you put the sidewalks,” people will take the shortest route available. It’s possible there may be drinking fountains, but to save on the costs, there will be no public restrooms. The space is intended to be a gathering place for city residents, primarily for passive uses, though scheduled events will be planned. The 30 by 20 foot octagonal pavilion will be positioned so crowds of at least 500 could attend events. The next step in the process is for the feedback forms to be reviewed. The next meeting of the steering committee will be Aug. 3, at 4 p.m., in the library. It is possible that elements from one plan could be merged with the other. “There’s always a possibility of taking one element from one or the other,” Edwards said.


Public input sought on two designs for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is looking for a green light on one of its two plans for the Wooster Green space being developed in the downtown. On Wednesday, July 19, local residents are invited to a program at the library, where both plans will be described, comments will be sought, and questions will be answered. “Obviously, the committee has worked very diligently on coming up with concepts,” said Bob Callecod, co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee for Wooster Green. “We want to know if we’re on the right track.” All of the meetings on the green space have been open to the public, but very few citizens have attended. So the presentation at 4 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library meeting room, 251 N. Main St., is intended to seek out public opinion on the project. “We would like the public’s response to these proposals,” Callecod said. “We want to make it clear that nothing is in stone at this point.” The two final design options will remain on display in the library until July 27, so people can continue to study and comment on them. Also, starting July 19, a link will be active on the city’s website (www.bgohio.org) for citizens to use to offer input. Both of the two final design options for the 1.2-acre green space where the old junior high used to sit include three features. There will be a stone arched entry at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. There will be a 20 by 30 foot octagon shaped pavilion for performances or gatherings. And there will be a display area for public art – possibly a sculpture. Beyond that, the two plans are quite different, with one being symmetrical, with walkways creating an “X” in the green space. The other design has more meandering walkways that curve across the green. The plans will be presented Wednesday by Troy Sonner, with Poggemeyer Design Group. The firm is doing the Wooster Green design for free as part the business’ 50th anniversary gift to the community. Sonner is expected to have three-dimensional computer drawings of the two designs to help citizens envision the plans. Those designs will also be put on the city’s website, where comments will be solicited. The goal is to have the design decided by the beginning of August, so fundraising brochures can be created by Aug. 15.


Wooster Green designs to get public review in July

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The steering committee has batted around all kinds of ideas for Wooster Green – so soon it will be the public’s chance to weigh in. Three features of the 1.2-acre green space where the old junior high used to sit are not up for debate. There will be a stone arched entry at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. There will be a 20 by 30 foot octagon shaped pavilion for performances or gatherings. And there will be a display area for public art – possibly a sculpture. Based on public comment and input from the steering committee, some changes to the plans have already been implemented. The site will have less concrete than originally planned. “That was a clear cut message that came from the last meeting,” said Troy Sonner, with Poggemeyer Design Group. The firm is doing the Wooster Green design space for free as part the business’ 50th anniversary gift to the community. During Thursday’s steering committee meeting, there was spirited debate over the four possible designs presented. The goal of the group was to narrow it down to two designs that will be presented to the public for input. After some deliberation, the committee decided on one design that is more symmetrical, with walkways creating an “X” in the green space. The other design had more meandering walkways that curved across the green. “Here’s the kicker,” said Lori Young, co-chair of the design committee. “We’ve got one shot to design this space so it’s usable.” The steering committee logged concerns about: Having enough space for people gathering for events at the pavilion. There will be no constructed seating, people will be expected to bring chairs and blankets for sitting on. Though some members preferred curving walkways rather than straight lines, others were worried about people creating their own straight paths through the grass. “People will take the shortest cut,” Young said, warning that trenches could be formed. Though the group wants to lessen the amount of concrete, Larry Nader said there should be concrete access to the pavilion to help with the hauling of heavy equipment. Mayor Dick Edwards cautioned against putting the pavilion so far to the south of the green that it pinches the neighboring First Presbyterian Church. The next step in the process is for Sonner to create three-dimensional computer drawings of the two designs selected on Thursday. Those designs will be put on the city’s website, where comments will be solicited. Later in July, the designs will be posted in the Wood County District Public Library, where a public meeting will be held to describe both options. Those displays will be left at the library for a week or so, to gather more public input. This step is vital, according to Anne-Marie Lancaster, co-chair of the publicity and marketing committee with Bob Callecod. “We want the public to have some feedback. What do they prefer?” Lancaster asked. The goal is to have the design decided by the beginning of August, so fundraising brochures can be created by Aug. 15. “The sooner we can move with the design and the elements,” the better, said Sharon Hanna, chair of the fundraising committee. To make sure citizens can envision the plan, Callecod offered to create an actual 3-D model of the final design.