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, the City Planning Commission approved a request by Pat Cooper to have his property at 1416 Kaderly Street NW rezoned from residential to business. He has been operating his accounting business and his wife her respite care for families of mentally and physically challenged individuals under a temporary variance for nearly a year. Mr. Cooper explained that the Board of Zoning Appeals granted the variance with the understanding that he would apply for rezoning. The matter has now been assigned to Council’s Zoning and Annexation for consideration and final approval.
The State’s violation of the Ohio Constitution in attempting to collect local business net profits tax and Ohio’s opioid epidemic dominated discussions at the Ohio Municipal League’s annual conference, which I attended in Columbus on November 1st and 2nd. During a two hour panel discussion with municipal income tax administrators and tax lawyers, we learned that the State Tax Commissioner is already planning to take the next step, which is to seize municipality’s authority to collect business payroll tax. I left the conference with a more hardened resolve that joining now over 100 Ohio municipalities in suing the State to stop this unconstitutional overreach is the right thing to do for New Philadelphia. Again, I urge the Finance Committee to bring Ordinance 21-2017 to the floor with a recommendation for passage by the whole Council.
Mayors and Council members in attendance at the conference shared their concerns over the growing opioid epidemic and discussed what measures need to be taken to end it. Several communities have established opioid task forces, like the one recently created here in Tuscarawas County. Some OML members, including myself, pointed out that if the State continues to seize local governments’ operating money, it will be very difficult to hire more police officers to fight the opioid problem from the law enforcement side.
This past Thursday Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, my Executive Assistant Mary Ann Otte and myself had the opportunity to take our first visit to the Community Hospice Truman House on Commercial Avenue SW. President and CEO Norm Mast gave us a personal tour of the facility, which now employs over 200 people and serves Tuscarawas, Stark, Carroll, Columbiana and Coshocton counties. Truman House has become a premier non-profit provider of hospice services because of the vision and commitments of its board of directors, leadership and medical staffs, its volunteer staff – which now numbers over 500 people, and because of the monetary support of individuals and groups in each county.
Tomorrow at a Noon ceremony on the Tuscora Park boardwalk, the New Philadelphia Rotary Club will celebrate its 100th year of service to our community. Founded by local business leaders in 1917 to support the home front during World War One, Rotary became the driving force behind many projects and improvements in New Philadelphia, most notably its work at Tuscora Park, the founding of what is now the Rainbow Connection local health charity and downtown revitalization.
On the behalf of all New Philadelphia citizens, I thank the Rotary Club for its love of and commitment to our community. For any organization to be in service for 100 years speaks to the character and quality of its members.
There will be another celebration this week in New Philadelphia. Friday at 3pm Off the Wall Ministry will host a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony at its new music store at 138 East High Avenue, next door to City Hall. When a new business opens in our town, it’s a good day. Extensive renovations have been done to the interior of the store. And the fact that it’s a music store is another step in the arts movement that is evolving in our downtown area. I’m told that the Off the Wall music store will offer lessons as well as music and instrument sales.
New Philadelphia native Michael McInturf is a lead instructor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture. Over the past eight months, he and I have discussed the possibility of having a team of his graduate school students take on the assignment of creating a plan that would help guide the City’s future. The possibility became a reality. The City Planning Commission held its first meeting with professor McInturf and his four graduate students last Thursday. The purpose was to gather more data about New Philadelphia for use in developing the plan. It will incorporate the City’s street layout, architecture, history, assets like the Tuscarawas River, airport and the KSU-Tusc campus and the City’s location in Eastern Ohio. All who attended the meeting were excited to learn of the team’s approach and look forward to the next meeting later this year. Professor McInturf is the brother of local realtor Jan McInturf and was looking for a way to use his position and knowledge to help his hometown.
The proposed Ordinance 21-2017 now being considered by Council’s Finance Committee would give me the authority to include the City of New Philadelphia in a coalition of cities and villages across Ohio that may sue the General Assembly for amendments it has made to ORC 718, the municipal income tax law. The coalition members are demanding recension of the amendments because they violate the Ohio Constitutional authority given to municipalities to collect and keep income tax to operate city services. I ask that the Finance Committee review the proposed legislation and the $4000.00 cost of joining the coalition’s lawsuit.
When business owners and developers ask me to name the key assets of the City of New Philadelphia, I always include the list of our educational institutions: Kent State-Tuscarawas, Buckeye Career Center, Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School, Quaker Digital Academy and New Philadelphia City Schools. No other community in Tuscarawas County has more educational opportunities. That’s a fact that makes employers want to stay in New Philadelphia and makes new businesses want to locate here. Our education systems give us a competitive edge. Our future sustainability and growth directly relates to the quality of education we can provide to kids and adults.
I bring this to your attention because New Philadelphia City Schools has an important issue on the November election ballot. It addresses the need to maintain school buildings and infrastructure and address class sizes. It’s important that you know all about this issue before casting your ballot.
I received a call last Friday from Michael Howard, vice president of CBRE brokerage services of Cleveland. He informed me that Colfax, Howden Buffalo’s parent company, has retained his company in an attempt to find a buyer for the Howden property. CBRE replaces Putman Properties of Canton. Mr. Howard was aware that the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, or APEG, has arranged for an Italian steel manufacturer to tour the Howden property the week of November 12th. Colfax agreed to repair the overhead lights inside the buildings after I explained that this could be the first serious buyer to tour the plant since it was closed nearly five years ago.
Events leading up to Friday night’s big game began this past Saturday morning, with the first Rotary Sportsmanship Breakfast at Buckeye Career Center. It was moved from Monday evening at the request of both schools athletic directors and head coaches, in order to remove one less distraction from preparations for the game. From the reaction of all who attended, the change was welcome.
I ask all New Philadelphia residents to proudly wear your Red and Black this week, and attend the annual pep rally Thursday at 7 at the high school gym. I like our Quakers chances, though this one is shaping up to be another nail biter. Can’t wait. GO QUAKERS!!!
Pioneer 360, a New Philadelphia technology company, has begun the installation of security cameras at Tuscora Park. The City Park Board recommended the installation after learning that the instances of vandalism at the park have increased.
Last week the donation of the former Riverview Welding property to the City was completed. Clean Ohio grant money will be used to develop a boat launch and parking area on the property. This will allow canoeists and kayakers to begin utilizing the Tuscarawas River for recreational purposes. There are also plans to bring the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail to that location. I would like to thank Joe and Cheryl Coniglio of Dover for the property donation. It will help enhance the recreational opportunities offered at the Waterworks park.
On Wednesday I will be attending another meeting with local government, business and county officials who have joined forces to help develop bicycle trails to and through New Philadelphia. The group is identifying routes that can be marked to connect the City to surrounding communities and connect businesses and attractions within the City. This is a collaborative effort with the Ohio and Erie Canal Coalition and the Ohio Rails to Trails group, which are working on trail development from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, then onto Uhrichsville and Dennison and eventually to Pittsburgh and Columbus. Bike trail development utilizes the natural beauty and tourism attractions we have in Tuscarawas County, and will help boost the local economy and employment. This is a prime example of using what we have to generate dollars and jobs.
Rodney Wekkin, Menard’s real estate representative, informed me last Friday that the company still plans to start construction of its New Philadelphia store in the spring of 2018. Mr. Wekkin said he will be coming to New Philadelphia within the next two months to provide a more detailed update and discuss the Community Reinvestment Area agreement that Council has approved to help with the store’s development.
The annual Fall Festival at Tuscora Park is this Sunday October 15th from 4-7pm. See you there!
At its September 12th monthly meeting, the City Planning Commission recommended that the administration proceed with an annexation request to the Goshen Township Board of Trustees. There are eight parcels of City-owned land in the township – three within the footprint of Harry Clever Field and five within the footprint of the City’s East Avenue and Evergreen cemeteries. I have written a letter to the Goshen trustees asking that they approve the request, which is the first step in the annexation process. The commission recognizes that islands of township land within our municipal corporation limits impedes future planning for the City’s development and growth.
We are all aware of the need for new City cemetery land. By approving Ordinance 20-2017, this City Council will have the distinction of being the council that addressed that need. I thank Service Director McAbier, Law Director Fete, Cemetery Superintendent Herron and City Council members for their hard work and commitment to make this opportunity possible.
Another benefit of building a new City Fire Department building is the creation of nine new parking spaces in the downtown area. The spaces are located on the east side of 2nd Street across from the old fire station along the curb by the Emmanuel Lutheran Church buildings.
The newly created Tuscora Park Foundation has agreed to become a third party easement holder for development of several areas of the Southside Community Park. Criteria of Clean Ohio grant funding prohibit the City from applying for improvement money for land it already owns. Instead, a third party entity, like a non-profit foundation, can apply for the grant as an easement holder. The Tuscora Park Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) charity created to accept donations and fund improvements to all City parks. Its formation is the result of the City Park Board looking for ways to supplement the efforts of RTY at Tuscora Park and generate additional funds for maintenance, repairs and development at all parks. The foundation’s board consists of the Mayor, the City Parks Superintendent and three members of the City Park Board. Board member and attorney Mike Ernest developed the bylaws for the foundation and applied for its IRS 501(c) (3) status.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute Sergeant Randy Williamson, who is retiring from the City police force. Sergeant Williamson served the citizens and businesses of New Philadelphia for 27 years. And he set the standard for the duties of the K9 officer in our department. Being a police officer takes an extraordinary commitment to serve and protect our community. These are very challenging times, and I urge all New Philadelphians to thank our police officers for their service at every opportunity. That recognition means a lot to them.
I urge all New Philadelphians to do what they can to assist in the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort in Texas and Louisiana, and in the states being hit by Hurricane Irma. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and many faith-based and private disaster response organizations are accepting monetary donations, as well as donations of canned food and cleaning supplies. Work teams of volunteers are also needed. Recovery from these storms will take years and the commitment of an army of volunteers.
Today American flags were flown at half-staff to remember the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks 16 years ago. It’s also a day to honor the bravery of first responders and other American citizens on that day. Today our nation’s fight against terrorism is joined by a battle against opioid addiction: a battle that we face in our own town. Once again, our first responders are being called upon to save lives. And they’re putting their lives on the line to hunt down drug traffickers and dealers. Please support them and pray with them for courage and protection.
This coming Saturday, September 16th, the J-N-G Grill will be celebrating its 70th anniversary as a New Philadelphia business. Since its establishment by the Comanita family in 1947, the restaurant has become a downtown institution and is likely to be the City’s oldest business operating under the same name. I would like to thank the past owners for their efforts and thank current owner Ron Rosenthal for his commitment to keep the J-N-G alive and well in downtown New Philadelphia.
I would like to welcome Pioneer 360 into the New Philadelphia business community. The technology company has moved from its Dover location into the former Red Cross building on 4th Street NW in New Philadelphia. The new location will enable the company to expand its services and its staff, which presently numbers 32 employees.
The 20th season of RTY’s Summer Showcase concert series ended on September 3rd with the annual performance by the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra. Before the music played, Summer Showcase producer Sam Hitchcock announced his retirement and introduced his successors Joe and Mindy Croft. I would like to thank Sam for developing the concert series as a main summer attraction at Tuscora Park, where people of all ages gather to enjoy live musical performances. I know it was a tough decision. But the good news is president Hitchcock still has a number of hats he will continue to wear in service to our community.
Last week the installation of new energy efficient LED lights were completed at the Tuscora Park tennis courts. This week, Vasco Sports should complete the application of the surface finish coats and begin striping the courts. Construction is moving ahead as scheduled. We anticipate the new courts will be open for play within the next two weeks. An official opening ceremony is being planned by Parks Superintendent Rod Miller, the date to be announced.
The date for New Philadelphia’s annual Halloween Trick or Treat Night is on Tuesday, October 31st. And the time is from 6pm to 8pm.
I am happy to report that a tear down order has been issued to the owners of the building at 1216 West High Avenue – the former Hong Kong Buffet building. The order was issued by the City’s Building and Zoning Code Administrator Mike Scolati following a re-inspection of the building by the Fire Chief. The order gives the owners the option to tear down the building immediately at their cost or the City will do it and assess the cost to the property’s real estate taxes. I would like to thank Law Director Fete for the work he has done to streamline the process to remove neglected and unsafe structures in the City. With this new process in place, Mr. Scolati has targeted several other structures in New Philadelphia for tear down orders.
This past week Julie Leavengood Stephon announced that she is resigning her position as director of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association to take a new job with the County Convention and Visitors Bureau. On behalf of the citizens of New Philadelphia, I would like to thank Julie for her service and for creating events like Second Saturdays that brought the community downtown for fun and fellowship. It is my hope that the new director continues her effort to grow the association’s membership. The organization exists to sustain local businesses and to create a network for New Philadelphia business owners, small and large, to share ideas and learn from each other.
Construction of the new tennis courts at Tuscora Park remains on schedule for a mid-September completion. The installation of new fencing and net posts began last week. Vasco Sports will return next week to begin applying the finish coats to the new court surfaces. In a related note, because of an increase in vandalism at Tuscora Park, the administration is exploring ways to enhance security and surveillance in the park.
Once this evening’s City Auction is finished and the auctioned items removed, the Police Department will be using the South bay of the old fire station. The North bay is being leased to Buckeye Career Center, where its adult education firefighting and emergency medical technician classes will be held. The City will be paid $750 per month by Buckeye. Also, the upstairs of the old fire house will house the Safety Director’s office, police records and possibly the Municipal Court probation department.
Last week Jackie Triplett informed me that she could no longer serve on the City Planning Commission because of a work conflict. That created a vacancy on the Commission that I filled with the appointment of Lucas Moreland of New Philadelphia. Mr. Moreland is a sales representative for ChemSpec, and a Walsh University and New Philadelphia High School graduate. He represents the generation of young business professionals in New Philadelphia that must have a voice in the city’s future planning.
On July 31st Service Director McAbier and I traveled to Newcomerstown to meet with Mayor Pat Cadle to learn about his plan to use solar power to provide electricity to the village’s waste water treatment plant. His research has shown that the village could substantially reduce the plant’s electrical costs with solar power. So the village is proceeding with its plan to have solar panels installed at the plant this fall. When he was principal at Newcomerstown’s West Elementary School, Mayor Cadle had a successful experience with solar power. Service Director McAbier and I want to learn if it would be a cost effective means for New Philadelphia to power our waste water treatment plant.
Department heads are finalizing their 2018 appropriations budgets. August 31st is their deadline for having them submitted to Auditor Gundy and myself. We will then use them to craft the 2018 City budget, which we plan to submit to the Finance Committee by early October. Even though City income tax collections seems to be lagging slightly behind last year’s pace, I anticipate we will end the year ahead of last year’s revenue total. New Philadelphia has added more new businesses this year than have closed. And many of our existing businesses have increased employment and are growing. The changes made by the Ohio Legislature to income tax law have affected the way revenue is collected from businesses. The result is, to us, abnormal fluctuations in monthly tax collection amounts.
City administrators, Airport Operator Eric Hubbard and several Airport Commission members met with FAA officials this morning at the Harry Clever Field conference room. The meeting was requested by the FAA Detroit office for fiscal year 2018 planning purposes. The status of the airport master plan was discussed, as well as property acquisition, removing runway obstructions and airport projects. The officials also wanted to learn of the airport’s future priorities.
The new Chipotle Restaurant on Bluebell Drive will have its official ribbon-cutting and grand opening on Saturday July 29th. According to Chipotle’s marketing specialist Katie Hanna, the restaurant’s new employees will undergo training over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the grand opening. She told me that Chipotle is excited to be joining the growing family of New Philadelphia businesses.
Meanwhile, Smoke the Burger Joint has begun construction of its restaurant in the same building at the Shops at Bluebell Drive location. Its opening date is to be announced.
The project contractor, Vasco Sports, reports that the construction timetable is still as scheduled despite the recent rainfall. When the asphalt was removed from the surface, it revealed a poor underlying soil composition on the lower courts that will require modifications to the original plans for drainage. Ten inch corrugated drainage pipe will be installed around the perimeter of the courts. Provided the weather cooperates, the project is expected to be completed by mid to late September.
Members of the City administration and the Parks and Recreation Board have been working with representatives of RTY, Inc. to revise the group’s contracts for rides, concessions and the Teen Center at Tuscora Park. The agreements have not been updated since the year 2008. I felt it was time they were revised to reflect the changes that have been made at the park since that time. I have recommended that language be written into new agreements that allows RTY to offset losses, so it has enough revenue to maintain the rides, concessions and Teen Center in the future.
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Mary Anne Otte
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
Clerk of Council
330-364-4491, ext. 1243
330-364-4491, ext. 1210