Last Friday my Dennison to New Philadelphia/Dover Rail Corridor Task Force put the finishing touches on an Executive Summary of its objectives and sent it to U.S. Congressmen Gibbs and Johnson in Washington. The Congressmen will use the summary to prepare for a meeting with CSX railroad officials in November. The task force is proposing that R.J. Corman take ownership of the CSX rail line that runs from Uhrichsville through New Philadelphia and Dover. That is necessary in order to build a connecting line to the Historic Dennison Railroad Depot Museum.
I want to thank the Congressmen and R.J. Corman officials for their support of our proposal, which includes running year round passenger excursion trains from the Depot and increasing commercial freight service on the line. The task force membership represents a true partnership effort between local government, Kent State-Tuscarawas and private business to create more economic opportunities for New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County. Without the members’ commitment, the goal of the CSX meeting would not have been achieved.
I have instructed the City’s Fire, Health, Police and Service departments to do a better job of enforcing the City’s Health, Safety and Sanitation and Junk Vehicle laws in order to clean up eyesore properties in our neighborhoods. Citations will be issued. We all have a vested interest in making our City as attractive as it can be. If you have rubbish or junk on your property that needs picked up, please call the Mayor’s office or the City garage.
The City’s team is preparing for upcoming contract negotiations with the City’s Service, Clerical, Fire and Police bargaining units. The current three year contracts expire on December 31st. Our goal is to have all four contracts approved by the units and City Council before that date.
All City department heads have submitted their 2019 budgets to me to review. Later this week I’ll be sending them onto Auditor Gundy, so she can prepare the first draft of next year’s budget. Sticking to the timeline I’ve created, that first draft should be submitted to the Finance committee prior to the October 22nd Council meeting.
The $5.2 million renovation of the Tuscarawas County’s main library building downtown will begin this month. The project will be done in phases to allow the library to remain open during the yearlong construction period. Motorists should expect occasional traffic disruptions in the area of 1st Drive and Ashwood Lane NW.
New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County is positioned to greatly benefit from the downstream petrochemical value chain that is being created in Eastern Ohio by the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. That fact was repeated by every industry presenter that spoke at a workshop held last week at Kent State-Tuscarawas. They stressed that no other region in America has the advantage of having located within it, the means to bring oil and gas up out of the ground, turn it into petrochemicals, manufacture the petrochemicals into products and have those products purchased by consumers. This advantage has already prompted leading energy companies to invest over $70 billion dollars in the region to build power plants, cracker plants, pipelines and related drilling and manufacturing support facilities. The challenge we face is finding ways our local businesses can profit by entering the downstream value chain. We also have to continue to improve our city’s attraction to petrochemical-related employers, their employees and families. City Council’s continued support of economic development and expanding the City’s parks system are big steps in that direction.
Later this week Service Director McAbier and I will sit down with officials of American Electric Power to discuss the possibility of locating electric vehicle chargers in the City. AEP has created an Electric Vehicle or EV program to meet the growing need for public charging stations. We need to learn more about the EV program to decide whether the City should participate and where best to locate EV chargers.
The band organ in the Tuscora Park carousel is in need of repair to replace worn parts and bring it back to its original condition. The estimated cost of the renovation is around $45,000.00. The club has established a web site where you can go to donate online to help fund the project. The web address is www.tuscoracarousel.com. The would be a great opportunity for friends and family members who live out of town to help restore the band organ to the condition we remember as kids riding the merry-go-round.
The week of October 1st is when the Ohio Department of Transportation expects the next phase of the State Route 416 paving project to begin, weather permitting. The grinding and resurfacing will begin near the City Garage on Commercial Avenue SE and proceed to South Broadway. From there, the project will turn north and repave North Broadway to the northern city limits. The work is scheduled to be done between the hours of 7pm and 6am to minimize traffic disruptions.
I encourage all businesses in New Philadelphia to send a representative to attend the October 4th membership meeting of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association. The meeting will be held at the Tuscora Park pavilion and will start at 8am. There is a misconception that the NPBCA exists only to promote businesses in the downtown area. The organization exists to help the entire New Philadelphia business community as well as our community as a whole. Our city is growing. There are opportunities for our businesses to help each other take advantage of that growth. The NPBCA was established to do just that.
Last week the City submitted its application for Clean Ohio grant funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. If the application is approved, it will allow for construction of phase one of the park’s development to occur early in 2019. In addition to using the $400,000.00 the City has received from the State Capital Budget, the grant funding will pay for an entrance roadway, necessary sewer and water lines, a dog park and natural utilization of the wooded area in the east side of the park.
The date for Halloween Trick or Treat in New Philadelphia is Tuesday, October 30th. The hours will be from 6pm to 8pm.
I have issued a Mayor Proclamation designating this as a week of celebration in the City to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Kent State University - Tuscarawas. I hope you plan to attend some of the celebration events planned on campus this week. The KSU-Tusc campus is one of New Philadelphia’s most important assets. Do you realize that, because of KSU-Tusc, our children can begin their education in pre-school and finish with a college or technical degree without ever leaving the city limits? How many other communities offer that level of educational opportunity?
On a somber note, I’m saddened that Dick Farrell, a member of the university’s board of trustees, will not be sharing in this week’s celebration. His voice on the board made the growth of the campus possible. He left us knowing that the gateway project was underway, and a new chapter in the history of Kent State - Tuscarawas had begun. He was a journalist and newspaper editor who loved this community, and who took great pride in his work as a trustee.
My Railroad Task Force has gained the support of Congressmen Gibbs and Johnson in its effort to persuade CSX to sell the Dennison to New Philadelphia rail line to the RJ Corman Railroad Company. Task force members, along with Corman president Brian Miller and Trainmaster John Sparr, met with the Congressmen on August 16th to explain the importance of local ownership of the rail line to New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County’s economic growth. They told us that, when Congress is back in session in October, they will meet with CSX officials to lay the groundwork for the task force to meet with CSX in the near future.
The City of New Philadelphia has become a construction zone: which is a good thing because it shows our local economy is growing. On the east side, the KSU-Tuscarawas campus gateway roadway project is well underway. Through the center of town the State Route 416 repaving project began today. And on the west side, the Menard’s site preparation continues at the end of Bluebell Drive NW, while on the other end of Bluebell, Jersey Mike’s Subs store is under construction beside Starbucks. I ask motorists to be patient because travel through town may be slow at times because of this progress.
I have emailed ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Roxanne Kane to ask for a meeting to explain why New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County have to apparently pay double the price for road salt. From what I’ve learned, it appears that Tuscarawas County is the only county in District 11 that has been hit with an $84 dollar a ton price. Carroll County will pay $67 dollars per ton, Harrison County $82 dollars and Holmes County nearly $75 dollar per ton. Compass Minerals America of Overland Park, Kansas is the only company that offered a bid to supply the salt, which the City and Tuscarawas County purchases through District 11.
I want to thank the members of Experimental Aircraft Aviation Chapter 1077 for bringing the B-25 and C-47 World War Two warbirds to Harry Clever Field this past weekend. B-25 crew members told me that their visit produced the most ridership of any of their stops this year. The EAA’s next event is this coming Saturday, September 2nd. It will be hosting its annual Labor Day Weekend Fly-in and Pancake Breakfast from 7:30am to 1:30pm.
Heavy equipment from DiPietro Excavating of East Canton has moved into the Menard’s construction site on Bluebell Drive NW. This week the company will begin removing the pavement from the former parking lots and preparing the site. Company officials told Service Director McAbier that they will be on an aggressive work schedule because Menard’s would like to have the new store opening next spring. Motorists traveling along Bluebell Drive should be conscious of the excavation activity and the resulting truck traffic.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 officials will be holding a pre-construction meeting this Wednesday to give City Administrators the details on the State Route 416 paving project. During the meeting an exact starting date should be announced, but it’s expected to be within four weeks. The City and ODOT will be sharing in the cost of paving from the City Garage on Commercial Avenue SW, to the South Broadway intersection, preceding north through the downtown area on North Broadway and ending at the northern city limit on North Broadway. ODOT will continue from that point to pave Seven Mile Drive to White’s Bridge where it meets State Route 800. After the meeting, Service Director McAbier will release information on how the project will affect traffic along the paving route. He will also announce a list of other City streets that will be paved in the near future.
The Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corporation will conduct a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday August 24th to mark the start of construction of Gemini Industrial Machines new 25-thousand square foot manufacturing building in the County’s Regional Technology Park off of University Drive NE. The scheduled start time is 10 am. This will be a historic event for New Philadelphia as Gemini becomes the first company to locate in the tech park and fulfill the CIC’s vision of creating opportunities for technology-based businesses. Gemini creates automated equipment for manufacturing production. Its new location in New Philadelphia will be an expansion of its original location in Dover Township.
It’s hard to believe that summer break is coming to an end for New Philadelphia’s school kids. Classes at Tuscarawas Central Catholic begin on Wednesday August 22rd and at New Philadelphia City Schools on Thursday August 23rd. As you’re driving in school zones, remain aware of the crossing guards, the students and the speed limits.
I attended the annual Tuscarawas County Dale Lauren Foland Manufacturing Festival this past Saturday at its new Tuscora Park location. And I learned from the nine local manufacturers in attendance that they are all hiring. The companies were Allied Machine and Engineering, Belden Brick, Dover Chemical, Gradall, Lauren International, Marsh Industries, Meteor Sealing Systems, the Timken Company, HV Coil and Eleet Cryogenics. They need employees with special skills as well as production line workers. These are manufacturing jobs. And I would encourage recent trade school or college graduates or anyone looking for steady work to contact them. By the way I thought Tuscora Park was the perfect location and the rib burn off between Hog Heaven and Texas Roadhouse was a great addition to the festival atmosphere. A big shout out goes to Mike Hovan and Lauren International, and Frank Polen and Buckeye Career Center for hosting the annual event.
Rodney Wekkin, Menard’s real estate representative, informed me via email last Friday that the company is awaiting the approval of its Notice of Intent permit application by the Ohio EPA. The NOI permit is required by the state prior to the start of construction project. It’s my understanding that the NOI states how storm water runoff will be handled at a construction site. I have contacted State Representative Al Landis to ask if there is a way to speed up the permit approval process. Mr. Wekkin wrote that as soon as the NOI permit is approved, we should see construction activity at the store’s Bluebell Drive location.
A meeting with our area’s Congressional representatives will be the next step in my Railroad Task Force’s effort to connect the railroad line running through New Philadelphia to the Dennison Depot Museum. The decision was made at the task force’ most recent meeting last Monday. The rail line is owned by CSX Railroad and leased to R.J. Corman of Dover. The task force’s desire to increase the use of the line by freight and excursion trains is being considered by Corman officials. The task force is asking the Congressional reps to facilitate a meeting with CSX officials where the members can present a business plan and vision for the railroad line.
Officials from Emergency Services Consulting will be in town next week to present the results of their nine month study of New Philadelphia’s and Uhrichsville’s fire and EMS operations. The purpose of the study was to determine how both cities could solve their issues of increased call volume and rising overtime costs, and whether creation of a joint fire district could be a solution. The public presentation will be held on Monday July 30th at 6:00 p.m. in the Buckeye Career Center’s cafeteria. I urge all Council members to attend.
My office received a copy of the letter sent to Police Chief Mike Goodwin by the state notifying him that the City jail has met the requirements of a “Compliant Jail.” Administrators from the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention wrote that, following its annual inspection, the jail is compliant with 100% of the Essential Standards and at least 90% of the Important Standards. Chief Goodwin and his staff should be congratulated for this achievement because it speaks to the high degree of professionalism that exists in our Police Department.
A big Thank You is in order for co-chairs Joe Croft and Sam Hitchcock and the remaining members of the First Town Days Festival Committee for making the 41st annual celebration one to remember. The Family Day events, Queen’s Luncheon, Grand Parade, Fireworks Night and Car Show were all well attended. The City Slickers beat the County Terminators with a fierce rally in the bottom of the 7th to retain the softball tournament crown. Rich Harmon of Bolivar won the Mayor’s Choice trophy at car show for his beautifully restored 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. Several of the vendors I spoke to along the midway said they like coming to New Philadelphia because the people are so friendly, and we eat well. It says a lot about our town when we can come together as a community each summer at Tuscora Park to celebrate the birth of our nation and recognize New Philadelphia as the county’s first town.
On June 28th, members of the Dennison to New Philadelphia/Dover Railroad Task Force met with R.J. Corman officials in Dover to receive their input on the plan to connect the Dennison Depot with the north-south track that Corman leases from CSX railroad. The task force members explained what we feel would be the benefits to Corman and local communities if increased freight business and excursion trains from the depot were allowed on the line. Corman officials explained their relationship with CSX and the structure of their lease. Though they were non-committal to what the task force hopes to accomplish, the task force members were very appreciative for Corman agreeing to meet with us and for the railroad knowledge they shared. The task force will gather later this month to begin drafting a business plan to present to CSX sometime in the future.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s State Infrastructure Bank has notified my office that it has approved the City’s application for a low interest loan to finance construction of a new 12 bay hangar at Harry Clever Field. The structure of the $504,000.00 20 year loan calls for no interest to be charged in the first year. In the second year and beyond three percent interest will be charged on the principle. Airport Commission secretary Don Kennedy has secured rental commitments from 12 aircraft owners for the new hangars. Bids for the project will be advertised and opened before the August 31st deadline to accept the ODOT loan.
At the Ohio Municipal League’s June 29th Summer Regional Conference in Canton, Executive Director Kent Scarrett updated municipal officials on the legislation pending in the Ohio House and Senate that could both help and hurt cities and villages. Senate bill 17 and House bills 538 and 654 would restore some of the local government funding removed by the Ohio Legislature and Governor Kasich. Of the five bills he said would hurt municipalities, HB 602 would do the most damage to New Philadelphia’s future. The bill would force cities and villages with municipal water and sewer systems to provide those services to township businesses and residents at the same cost charged to those living within the corporation limits. Ironically, the only proponent to testify before the subcommittee hearing the bill was George Helbling of A1 Developers, the group who has been trying to construct housing units on New Philadelphia’s border in Goshen Township. The bill’s sponsors are two Central Ohio House members who are trying to stop the City of Columbus from annexing more land for development purposes.
Over the past couple of weeks the Mayor’s office has received reports of wild animals, particularly deer and red fox, living in or roaming in residential areas. I would discourage anyone from putting out food for these animals. That only serves to attract them into the City and exposes them to more dangers than they face in their natural habitants in the surrounding woodlands. Also keep the lids on your garbage cans tightly closed. And I would remind anyone who has the temptation that it is illegal to discharge firearms within the City. If you think your pets or yourself are in danger of attack, please call the police department and let our officers handle it.
Downtown New Philadelphia is beginning to evolve into a showcase for street art. The latest example is the ceramic mosaic designs that local artist Jon Stucky has placed on the downtown concrete trash receptacles. I encourage you to walk through the downtown area to view them. And I thank Jon for sharing his artistic talent in such a unique way. You can visit his web site www.stuckyart.com to learn more about his artistry.
Garland Hospitality has confirmed through a Facebook post that it has purchased the former McDonald’s restaurant property on West High Avenue. The company has not announced its plans for the property. But it opens the possibility of expansion of the Schoenbrunn Inn and other developments that will enhance the West High Avenue location. The City is pleased that Garland continues to invest in New Philadelphia and help grow our economy.
Last Tuesday the New Philadelphia City Health Department submitted its application for accreditation to the Public Health Accreditation Board in Alexandria, Virginia. This was the first step in the accreditation process mandated by Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature. To meet this mandate, the Health Department had to hire an accreditation coordinator at an annual salary of $15,000.00 to gather the required data. Though the City Health Board disagreed with this mandate, it voted to proceed rather than face the risk of having our health department closed or merged into another state health district. Once approved, the Health Department will have to pay the Virginia board an annual fee to remain accredited.
The two hot topics of discussion at the annual meeting of the Mayors Association of Ohio were the continued cuts in local government funding and the issues brought on by the legalization of medical marijuana. The conference was held in Akron on June 13th through the 15th. The mayors in attendance shared their concerns over bills in the Ohio Legislature that would continue to cut local government funding from municipalities and pressure cities and villages to raise taxes to fund services. The association members also discussed the community impact of legalizing medical marijuana. I joined most mayors in questioning the wisdom of State lawmakers when communities are already struggling with the cost of opioid addictions. Other topics discussed were guns in schools and social media - cyber security.
The annual Festival Queen Scholarship Pageant last Friday night opened the scheduled events for this year’s festival. Caitlin Aubrey Cole of Indian Valley was crowned queen and will preside over the 41st annual celebration, which begins on Wednesday July 4th and will conclude on Sunday July 8th at Tuscora Park. Saturday night is the fireworks night. I hope to see you there!
The City and the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association have stepped up their efforts to improve the appearance of the downtown area. The NPBCA has formed a committee to focus on the selection and planting of the flowers. The City has hired a part-time seasonal worker who will clean the downtown quadrants and water the flowers on the weekends. The NPBCA has hired a person to do the watering and care during the week. Soon benches will be installed to complete the parklet that was constructed at the City parking lot on South Broadway and a new bike rack is being designed for the downtown area. Also this summer the City will be removing the bricks in the quadrants that have been heaved up by tree roots and filling the areas with mulch. At the recent NPBCA members meeting, I asked all downtown merchants to join in the effort to keep the downtown sidewalks and areas cleaner.
Analysts from Emergency Service Consulting International are nearing completion of their study of New Philadelphia’s and Uhrichsville’s fire services. Last week they told Chief Parrish that they are working on the financial component, which is the final piece of the study. ESCI officials told the Chief they intend to present the findings of the study to City Council in July.
The City Health Department is putting the finishing touches on a Strategic Plan it must submit to the City Board of Health by July 1st as part of the state’s accreditation process. The Strategic Plan lays out the department’s goals over the next five years. Once approved by the local board it will be sent on to the state. Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature have mandated that all of Ohio’s health department’s become accredited through the national Public Health Accreditation Board in Alexandria Virginia. Ohio is the only state to require such validation of local public health services. The New Philadelphia Board of Health was opposed to accreditation because of its cost and redundancy with what is already required of health department’s by the Ohio Revised Code.
Meanwhile, Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says the Health Department continues to wage war on the local opiate epidemic by providing Medication Assistant Treatment and continues to provide disease prevention by offering blood pressure checks, blood sugar A1c testing, immunizations for all ages and environmental health inspections.
NPHS 1994 graduate Eric Swinderman is returning to his hometown on Wednesday to shoot scenes at the Tuscora Park carousel for his upcoming feature film “Anhedonia.” If you and your child would like to be an extra in the film, show up at the carousel by 10am on Wednesday. Producers are looking for children to be carousel riders and adults to play parents of the children as well as people in the park.
I have instructed City Building and Zoning Code Administrator Mike Scolati to work with Law Director Fete to review the City’s Housing Code, which is Codified Ordinance Chapter 1335. There are sections of the code that have not been implemented, but should be, in order to give the City more authority to address the problem of houses that have fallen into disrepair. Once Mr. Scolati and Mr. Fete have completed their review, I will ask the Council President to assign to committee any revisions that require Council action.
At its June 19th meeting, I will be presenting Superintendent Bob Alsept and the Buckeye Career Center Board of Education a proclamation written to recognize the New Philadelphia community service projects completed by Buckeye students this spring. The list includes construction of the paver brick patio and raised planter at the City parking lot on South Broadway, the repainting of the table and chairs at the House of Stones quadrant on the square, weeding and mulching the flower beds in the downtown quadrants, cleaning the cabins at Schoenbrunn Village, landscaping at Community Hospice on Commercial Avenue SW, and painting, brush clearing and fence repair at the Trumpet in the Land amphitheater. I thank Councilman Zucal for requesting the proclamation. The administration and staff at Buckeye need to be commended for teaching students the value of community service.
The owner of the building on Bluebell Drive NW that houses Starbucks, T-Mobile and Chipotle has informed me that Jersey Mike’s Subs will be their next tenant. A spokesman for The Witness Group - the building owner, said that Jersey Mike’s has signed a letter of intent to lease and will be signing a contract once building plans are approved by the City and county. Jersey Mike’s recently opened a new store in North Canton.
Mr. President I would like to use the balance of my time to show a PowerPoint presentation to inform Council of the work of the Railroad Task Force I have assembled. The presentation will take about 15 minutes with time for questions afterward.
I request that Council suspend its rules and pass Resolution 10-2018 on its first reading and Resolution 13-2018 on its second reading at tonight’s meeting.
Resolution 10 authorizes the mayor to enter into a partnership agreement with the City of Uhrichsville to implement the Community Housing Impact and Preservation, or CHIP program, for 2018. The grant money made available through the CHIP program will help many low income property owners in both communities make necessary repairs and renovations to their homes. The program has been very successful in the past and should be continued. The deadline for submitting our application for the CHIP grant is Friday May 4th.
Resolution 13 would give Council’s support to the fire chief’s application for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response or SAFER grant. There is no guarantee of the City receiving the grant. But if it does, the grant would help fund the hiring of additional firefighter/EMTs to meet the demands of increased call volumes and reduce the cost of overtime in the fire department. The deadline to apply for the grant is this Friday April 27th.
The City will celebrate Arbor Day this coming Thursday at East Elementary School. 320 Blue Spruce tree seedlings will be given to students and staff to take home and plant. National Arbor Day is on Friday April 27th. On a side note, I will accompany Service Director McAbier and General Services Superintendent Grewell tomorrow to Ashland University to attend the annual Tree City USA awards ceremony. The City will be receiving its 30th consecutive Tree City USA award.
I urge all voters in New Philadelphia to learn the reasons why the County Commissioners are seeking approval of a two-year, one half percent sales tax increase to fund a new 9-1-1 emergency communications system. The current 9-1-1 system is reaching its end of life and needs to be replaced with modern equipment that will improve its coverage in New Philadelphia and throughout the county. Our emergency responders depend upon this system, and this is an issue that affects all of us. The two-year tax levy will appear on the May 8th primary ballot.
Gemini Industrial Machine Group, presently located on Crown Road in Dover Township, intends to move its manufacturing operation into the Tuscarawas Regional Technology Park here in New Philadelphia. Resolution 11-2018, which is currently under consideration by City Council, would allow me to enter into an Ohio Enterprise Zone agreement with Gemini for purposes of its relocation. The company plans to build a 20,000 square foot building at the top of the tech park hill. It would allow for expansion of its assembly line automation business and add eight employees to its current workforce of 20 computer technologists, fabricators and electrical engineers. The building’s construction is scheduled to get underway in June. The enterprise zone agreement would give the company 75 percent real property tax abatement for 10 years, which will help secure the company’s growth and stability. Gemini is the first business to obtain tech park property from the County Community Improvement Corporation. It was a collaboration between the City, the County and the CIC that made this possible. And it is my hope that Gemini’s success will serve as a catalyst for other technology-based businesses to move into the tech park.
This past Friday I had the opportunity to attend the County Opiate Task Force’s strategic planning meeting at the City Fire Station’s meeting room. 2018 will be another year of challenges for the task force, but overall its efforts are making a positive impact on the county’s opiate addiction epidemic. The Quick Response Team that was organized last October has been effective in steering addicts into recovery programs. New Philadelphia and Uhrichsville continue to be the communities where the most drug overdoses are occurring. This year the task force plans to focus on using social media to make the community more aware of the services available to help families and individuals stricken by opiate addiction and addiction to other drugs. It will also put more effort into addressing the mental health component of overdosing and addiction.
This coming Thursday Service Director McAbier, Building and Zoning Code Administrator Scolati and myself will travel to Cambridge to hear the Ohio Rail Development Commission’s statewide railroad plan. The discussion is being hosted by the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. I would like to see more utilization of the railroad line that runs through the southern end of New Philadelphia, not only for freight purposes but also for excursion trains for tourism purposes. To me, our rail line is a key economic development asset.
To meet the growing transportation demands from the natural gas and oil business development, I feel it would be more economical and practical to restore abandoned railroad lines in Eastern Ohio than to build four lane highways. Restoring the rail lines from New Philadelphia to Dennison would connect the northern communities of the county with the southern, and give us direct access to the rail corridor that runs between Columbus and Pittsburgh. Plus, with the abundance of natural gas we have in Eastern Ohio, technology could be developed (if it hasn’t already) that allows train engines to be powered by natural gas.
As part of the Gundy Day activities on Saturday April 21st at Tuscora Park, a ceremony will be held at 10am to dedicate the new tennis courts. The donors who helped fund the project have been invited. Their names will appear on a sign that will be unveiled during the ceremony. Gundy Days will start with the Quaker Club’s annual pancake breakfast at the park pavilion and continue with track and field events, softball and baseball games and a boys’ varsity tennis match.
I was pleased to learn today that Dr. Lori Kuehne has accepted an appointment to the New Philadelphia Board of Health. Dr. Kuehne will fill the unexpired term of Ellen Wallace, who will be moving from the area. I want to thank Ellen for her years of service to the board. Under her guidance, the New Philadelphia Health Department has grown to serve clients countywide and has strengthened its role as a key provider of health care services to our community. I welcome Dr. Kuehne. She is a well-respected physician who will bring valuable expertise to our Board of Health.
Last Tuesday Service Director McAbier and I met with Quicksall and Associates officials to finalize plans for the boat ramp construction at the city-owned canoe livery property on State Route 416 and at the former Riverview Welding property on South Broadway. The timeline has the bids being let in May and the start of construction in August. Buildings will be demolished at both sites to make way for parking lots and driveways to the boat ramps.
The construction of a new gateway entrance into the KSU-Tusc campus on East High Avenue will spur new growth and business opportunities in that area of New Philadelphia. As Dean Brad Bielski indicated in a weekend story in the Times Reporter, university officials plan to make the gateway road the main entrance into the campus area, reducing traffic on University Drive as the main road to and from Buckeye Career Center. The university’s long range plan is to build residential housing along the gateway roadway, which Dean Bielski said should be under construction sometime this summer.
Meanwhile on this Thursday, March 29th at 10am in the Council chamber the City will be hosting a meeting of the East High Avenue Corridor Committee. The committee is working to develop bike and walking trails in the area that would join a county-wide trail system. The KSU-Tusc campus, Buckeye Career Center, the Technology Park, Schoenbrunn Village and Harry Clever Field would all be included in the trail system. The committee was organized by County Commissioner Joe Sciaretti and County Parks coordinator Jane Clay to spur the recreational and economic benefits of attracting bikers and hikers to New Philadelphia and surrounding communities.
At its March 13th monthly meeting, the City Planning Commission approved Lawver Construction’s development of 15 condominium units at the intersection of Carrie Avenue NW and 2nd Street NW. Local realtors have told me that there is a lack of available residential housing within the City’s corporation limits. The Lawver units are to be upscale geared toward retirees and should be a good fit for the neighborhood.
The annual report released last week by Judge Nan DeGarmo Von Allman showed that the court’s caseload continued to increase. Last year New Philadelphia Municipal Court heard 12,398 cases. To compare, Akron municipal court heard 9,732 cases and Canton 7,310 in 2017. The report said that receipts for the court in 2017 totaled over $2.2 million dollars, nearly $134,000.00 dollars more than the previous year. Of that, over $1.1 million was remitted to the City of New Philadelphia, although that amount does not cover the entire cost of operating the court. The New Philadelphia Municipal Recovery Court was very effective in identifying criminals with addictions and guiding them into recovery programs. Last year 24 persons applied for inclusion in the program, 14 were accepted and 6 graduated. 15 persons remain enrolled in the recovery court program.
Congratulations to Head Coach Tracy Payne and her Lady Quakers girls varsity basketball team on their historic season, which now has them playing in the girls Division Two State Championship semi-final game on Friday. This is New Philadelphia’s first girls basketball team to reach the state semi-finals and have a chance to play for a state championship. The New Philadelphia Schools administration is planning a big send off for the Lady Quakers on Thursday. We will have information about the send off on the City’s social media pages. You can also read the details in the Times Reporter and listen for them on local radio. The City and school officials are planning a Community Welcome Home Celebration for Sunday March 18th at 2pm at the downtown gazebo.
I was sadden to learn this morning that Gradall’s union workers are on strike. I hope they can resolve their differences quickly. Gradall is one of the City’s key employers. There is always the fear of a plant shutdown and workers losing their jobs as the result of a strike.
Over the past two weeks, myself, Police Chief Goodwin and Fire Chief Parrish have attended meetings with New Philadelphia Schools administrators to review the safety forces response to the recent high school lockdown and to discuss building security and student safety. The meetings were very productive. We will continue to work together to make improvements that will address the concerns raised by the lockdown incident.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge David Cain has denied the coalition’s motion to halt the changes made to the municipal tax code that give the State Tax Commissioner the authority to collect local business net profits income tax. The City of New Philadelphia is a member of the coalition of over 100 Ohio municipalities fighting to stop the State government from taking away what we feel is our constitutional right to collect local tax revenue to fund city services. Frost, Brown, Todd, the Columbus law firm hired by the coalition to defend our right, has filed an appeal of Judge Cain’s decision in the Franklin County Court of Appeals. A decision may come as late as sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime, the changes made to the municipal tax code, including New Philadelphia’s, are in effect.
State Representative Al Landis called me this morning with the news that he and Senator Jay Hottinger were able to get $400,000.00 from the State Capital Budget for development of the Southside Community Park. The money will allow phase one of the park’s development to get underway sooner than expected. Please thank Representative Landis and Senator Hottinger at your first opportunity because they fought hard to secure this money for New Philadelphia.
At its February 13th meeting, the City Planning Commission approved regulations on future construction of wind turbines in the City and forwarded its recommendation to Council’s Zoning and Annexation Committee. The regulations would be written as a new chapter in the City’s Codified Ordinances. Zoning and Building Code Administrator Mike Scolati and Law Director Fete authored the regulations, which would restrict the location of wind turbines to industrial zoned areas within the corporation limits and require such things as fall zones and noise studies.
Last week Law Director Fete and I worked with Jennifer Syx of InSite Advisory Group to revise the Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement agreement with Menard’s. The revisions reflect new employment figures and construction dates. The agreement now states that Menard’s will employ 40 full-time permanent jobs and 80 part-time jobs as originally stated, but the hiring will occur within 24 months of completion of construction. The original agreement stated 12 months. Hiring will begin in January of 2019. The start of construction period has been revised to the second quarter of this year and its completion by the third quarter of 2019. The tax abatement remains the same: 10 years at 50 percent. Once Menard’s signs off on the revisions the CRA agreement will be filed with the State and the construction timeline will start.
I am proud of the response by the New Philadelphia Police Department to last Wednesday’s lockout at the high school building. Our officers showed they are trained to react quickly to such events with a high degree of professionalism. All of them deserve our thanks. I look forward to discussing with school officials the lessons learned from this experience and what additional measures need to be taken to secure the safety of our children.
I want to clarify the misinformation that has been spread on social media regarding the City’s involvement in the proposed construction of a multi-unit apartment complex on Goshen Hill Road. Last November, Service Director McAbier received a letter from land owner, Joe Marsh requesting water and sewer service for the project. Because little detail was given, Mr. McAbier responded asking for a preliminary plat, information on any storm water issues and infrastructure plans: the typical details the Service Director needs to know before putting a project before the Planning Commission and City Council for approval. He never received a response from Mr. Marsh, so there was never a discussion of annexation or the City extending water and sewer services into the township for the development.
From a city planning standpoint, I am concerned about the impact this project could have on the Southside neighborhoods, our city streets and our safety forces. Unless the Goshen trustees can clearly show how this development will benefit New Philadelphia, we will oppose it.
On February 2nd University of Cincinnati professor Michael McInturf and his team of School of Architecture graduate students returned to New Philadelphia to conduct another data gathering session with members of the City Planning Commission and interested business owners. To develop the master plan, the students have divided the City into four zones: the Central Business District and New Towne Mall, the West High/Bluebell Drive area which they term the “Big Box” zone, the areas that border the Tuscarawas River including the Southside and Industrial Park, and the East High Avenue area which includes the KSU-Tusc campus, the Tech Park, Schoenbrunn Village and Harry Clever Field. These are areas of the City where growth is occurring and should continue into the future. Those who attended the session were divided into groups to share their ideas and opinions of each zone. It was a very productive work session and I am grateful to all who attended. Professor McInturf said he and his team plan to return to New Philadelphia in April to present the first draft of the master plan.
With the grand opening of Loves Gallery this past weekend the arts community in downtown New Philadelphia continues to grow. Love’s is located at the gazebo quadrant on North Broadway. It’s exciting to see more businesses being created from the wealth of artistic talent we have in the New Philadelphia community. The Ezekiel Project on Ashwood Lane is looking to expand its business downtown and is planning to host an art festival on Ashwood Lane in the late spring or early summer.
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno wanted me to remind you that the Health Department still has free flu shots available for residents without insurance. If you have insurance, the cost of the shot will be billed to it. The flu epidemic has not subsided. Commissioner Ionno said while the flu shot may not prevent you from getting the flu, it should lessen the effects and lead to a faster recovery.
If another deep snow storm occurs this winter, please try to avoid parking on the City’s main streets until they have been plowed clear. Our main thoroughfares and hills are top priority for snow plow crews when they are first called out. Then secondary streets and alleys are plowed. If you know of someone who has a medical condition that requires regular visits from nurses or other caregivers, please call the City Garage or Police Department if their street is snowbound.
I have received a resolution passed by the Goshen Township board of trustees that authorizes the City to proceed with the annexation of eight parcels of City-owned land at Harry Clever Field and the East Avenue and Evergreen cemeteries. These parcels have been islands of township land within the municipal corporation limits for many years. Bringing them into the City will help with future planning. Mr. President, I ask that these annexations be assigned to the Zoning and Annexation committee so the process can continue.
Last Friday I attended the New Philadelphia City Schools Community Business Luncheon. Superintendent David Brand touted the improvements being made by the teaching staff and facilities managers to reach the administration’s goals. Business leaders who attended showed interest in participating in the high school mentorship program, which exposes students to the career opportunities that exist in New Philadelphia. The quality of the curriculum and educators in our town gives us a strong economic development advantage over surrounding communities.
There was a great turnout for the Tuscora Park Foundation’s pancake breakfast fundraiser last Saturday morning. Over 140 people attended plus tickets were purchased by donors for all the New Philadelphia High School winter sports teams. The foundation was formed in the fall of 2017 to help raise money to pay for development of the new Southside Community Park and for capital improvements to Tuscora Park and the Waterworks Fields. The Foundation’s board of directors is made up of three Park Board members – Mike Ernest, Tom Farbizo and Jan McInturf, the City Parks Department Supervisor, the Mayor and three citizen members Darrin Lautenschleger, Don Kemp and Jim Boose. At a recent foundation board meeting, Mike Ernest was elected board president.
Lead Instructor Michael McInturf plans to bring his graduate students to New Philadelphia on Friday February 2nd to give the Planning Commission an update on the City master plan they are developing. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 1pm in the Council chamber. I would urge all Council members to attend if possible.
Jennifer Syx and her Insite Advisory Group of Fairlawn Ohio will assist the City in revising the Community Reinvestment Area property tax abatement agreement with Menard’s Incorporated. Ms. Syx company helped craft the original Menard’s CRA agreement in 2015. It has to be revised to reflect new construction start and completion dates as well as expected employment and payroll numbers. The revisions will require new legislation, which Council would have to approve before construction begins. Ms. Syx is working with Law Director Fete to craft that legislation.
After reading the heartbreaking story in Sunday’s Times Reporter about the children affected by the county’s opioid addiction problem, I want to remind New Philadelphia residents that the City Health Department is here to help. If you have an addiction or know someone who does, contact our Heath Department. Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno and Director of Nursing Nicole Bache can recommend treatment programs that can start you on the path to recovery.
At tomorrow’s 1pm monthly meeting, the City Planning Commission will begin discussion on the regulation of future wind turbine construction in the City. Currently, the City does not have proper zoning restrictions, which allowed the wind turbine to be erected at the Schoenbrunn Inn on West High Avenue. The commission will review proposed restrictions written by Mike Scolati, the City’s Zoning and Building Code Administrator.
I would like to welcome newly seated third ward Councilman Dan Lanzer to our City Government, and welcome back re-seated members Maurer, Ramos and Zucal. 2018 is going to be a very busy year for all of us. And I’m looking forward to working side-by-side with you as we continue to improve New Philadelphia and maintain its leadership role in Tuscarawas County.
After a week of single digit and sub-zero weather, the warmer weekend temperatures caused several water main breaks across the City. It’s during these events when you really appreciate the work of our City Water Department crews, some of which had to endure water up to their knees in an eight foot hole repairing the leaks.
Mr. President I request that Council suspend its rules and adopt Ordinance 27-2017, which would enact the City’s 2018 budget. I would like to thank Auditor Gundy, Finance Committee chair Lautenschleger, members of the Finance Committee and all City department heads for their help in crafting the budget. It reflects our cautious approach to 2018 as we deal with the uncertainty resulting from the Ohio Legislature’s changes in our income tax law and the outcome of lawsuits that hopefully reverse those changes.
I would like to express my gratitude to Councilman Lautenschleger for his service to our City and his commitment to the improvement of the New Philadelphia community. His accomplishments should serve as a standard for Council members. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.
2017 was not without its challenges. But overall, this has been another productive year for New Philadelphia city government. For example, with the help of City Council, we were able to take big strides toward developing a new recreation economy, complete major infrastructure projects at the water plant and airport, open a new fire station, and complete a master plan for the new Southside Community Park.
The year’s accomplishments would not have been possible without the guidance and knowledge of Service Director McAbier and the efforts of his team of Service Department supervisors and administrators. And thanks to the leadership of Police Chief Goodwin, Fire Chief Parrish, Health Commissioner Ionno, and Municipal Court judge Von Allman, our City is now fully engaged in developing solutions to opioid addiction that includes intervention and treatment for addicts, and the conviction of drug dealers.
I would be remiss if I did not include the role Law Director Fete has played in making 2017’s achievements possible. His authoring of legislation and legal advice has been essential in the actions taken by the Administration and Council.
Lastly I would like to thank our entire city workforce for their efforts this year. They have kept our neighborhoods and business districts safe, our infrastructure in good repair and have improved our processes and customer service.
A full accounting of my Administration’s accomplishments in 2017 will be made when I issue my second State of the City Report early next year.
Last week the City received a $20,000 grant from the Doris and Floyd Kimble Foundation to fund an upgrade to LED lighting in the Municipal Court building. I would like to thank the Kimble Foundation for this generosity, which allows the $80,000 project to get underway. Once completed, Court officials estimate the LED lighting will save $3,500 per year in electrical costs.
Last Thursday City officials met with Menard’s real estate representative Rodney Wekkin to begin planning for construction of the company’s new store and warehouse on Bluebell Drive NW. We discussed the construction permitting process and revisions that need to be made to the Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement agreement approved by City Council in 2015. Mr. Wekkin told us that the warehouse will be larger than originally planned. Construction is scheduled to begin in April or May of 2018 and will take a year to complete.
I am proud to announce that this morning I had the honor of giving the oath of office to Jamie Burgasser of North Canton, who became the City’s first female firefighter/EMT-Paramedic. Thanks to the forward-thinking of Chief Parrish, the City’s new firehouse includes living quarters and other accommodations for women. Mrs. Burgasser formerly worked as a paramedic for Summa Akron General Hospital and a firefighter/paramedic at the Bolivar Fire Dept.
The Goshen Township board of trustees has approved a resolution to support the application for Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant money to fund the initial development of the Southside Community Park. The City is seeking grant money to begin constructing a new road into the park from Oldtown Valley Road and develop a multi-use green space, dog park and pavilion and playground in a wooded area. I am grateful to the Goshen trustees for their support and recognition of how the new park will benefit our community.
The Mayor’s office would like to wish everyone in our community a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. If you have family coming to town to celebrate with you, take them to view Storybook Lane at Tuscora Park, to Christmas in the Park this Sunday, and downtown to view the Christmas decorations, to shop and to enjoy the holiday specials at our local restaurants.
Last Monday I met with Calvin White and Jack Reem of the county Friends of the Homeless organization to discuss the need for, what they called, a “drop in” facility. This is a place where transient people can find shelter and a hot meal for an overnight stay. They said there is a growing need for such a facility in the area, and that they are looking for any available buildings with adequate space. Mr. White said the local homeless shelter is full so it can’t accommodate drop-ins.
At its monthly meeting last Wednesday, the City Park Board approved new contracts with RTY, Inc to operate the rides, concessions and the teen center at Tuscora Park. Revisions were made to improve operations while keeping the cost of rides and concessions affordable. The City will continue to provide security and custodial services and be responsible for the upkeep of the buildings used by RTY. The new contracts also give RTY the opportunity to recoup losses from down years with the Park Board’s approval. The intent there is to assure that enough money is available for necessary maintenance and repairs to the park rides.
The annual Christmas lighting ceremony is scheduled to start at 6pm this Friday at the downtown gazebo. Following the ceremony Santa Claus will be coming to town in the annual City Christmas Parade, which will step off from Tuscora Park and end at the downtown square. One of the parade highlights will be the delivery of a new Santa house to the Courthouse Square. I thank Lowe’s and all the volunteer workers who built the new Santa house and donated it to our community. Wait until you see it!
At its November 15th meeting, t
John Knisely Municipal Centre
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John Knisely Municipal Centre
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Mary Anne Otte
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Clerk of Council
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