This past Thursday, the Ohio Public Works Commission District Natural Resources Assistance Council approved the Tuscora Park Foundation’s application for a Clean Ohio grant to begin construction of phase one of the Southside Community Park. The grant award was reduced from its original amount of $2.2 million dollars to $1.4 million dollars to take into account the required shortening of a new entrance road into the park and a reappraisal of the park’s conservation easement being transferred from the City to the Foundation. But before the money will be released by the OPWC to begin construction, a bench review of the reappraisal has to be conducted as well as the certification of City matching funds. Once these final hurdles are cleared, construction will get underway. Barring any other obstacles, the completion of phase one – which includes a new entrance road off of Oldtown Valley Road, a dog park, pollinator garden and trail with pedestrian bridges – should come by the end of the year. Phase one does not include construction of additional ballfields.
Also last Thursday, Service Director McAbier, Building and Zoning Code Administrator Scolati and myself traveled to Columbus to meet with officials from JobsOhio and TeamNEO (Northeast Ohio) to learn how they could help the City find a buyer and a new use of the vacant Howden Buffalo plant. Officials from Hull Environmental of Dublin were also invited by JobsOhio to attend the meeting. As a result, they committed to dig deeper to determine the shortfalls of the property and construct a plan to develop more interest in it. I am grateful to Glenda Bumgarner of JobsOhio and Shawn Starlin of TeamNEO for their interest in helping New Philadelphia. We will meet again in six weeks to learn the results of the research and the next steps that need to be taken in the development plan.
I’m asking Council to confirm my appointments to the Downtown Design Standards Board of Review as soon as possible so that the board’s work can officially get underway. The members met again last week to elect officers – Noel Poirier is the chairman and Kathy Pietro vice-chairman – and review the design standards adopted by the cities of Wooster and Zanesville to get ideas of what downtown New Philadelphia’s standards should be. The members also discussed ways to inform downtown property and business owners that the board intends to help them be successful while encouraging storefront design improvements.
If you haven’t already, please take the time to tour the newly renovated Tuscarawas County Main Public Library on Fair Avenue NW. The new design and technology in the library makes it one of the finest public libraries in Eastern Ohio and assures that it will serve as a center for knowledge and a comfortable gathering place for our community for years to come. At its recent grand reopening I was excited to see the new technology for using library resources and for making group presentations. The children’s department also has a fresh new look and design. This past Saturday I was invited to sit in the new second floor presentation area and read a book named “Llama Llama Red Pajamas” to a group of children with a real, live llama named Rusty standing beside me. So there’s no end to the special events that can now happen at the library for kids, adults and llamas alike!
The City of New Philadelphia congratulates Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital for receiving a 5-Star rating from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It’s the highest possible rating in the CMS ranking system. We are so fortunate that CEO Bruce James and his administration, and the hospital’s professional and support staffs are committed to providing the finest quality healthcare possible to the members of our community.
THE COUNTDOWN IS UNDERWAY. THE OFFICIAL US CENSUS DAY IS APRIL 1ST!
Last week the members of the Downtown Design Standards Review Board gathered in my office to be introduced and discuss the board’s purpose as described in Chapter 1333 of the City’s Codified Ordinances. The members are Jen Contini-Cunningham, a nationally recognized artist and the manager of Love’s Gallery; Gary Lawver, a local builder and developer; Erika Metzger, a local designer and marketing expert with Sourdough LLC; Kathy Pietro, a downtown property and business owner and a local developer and Noel Poirier, the executive director of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum in Sugarcreek. His historical preservation experience includes work with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Historic Bethlehem Partnership. Before the work of the board can officially get underway Chapter 1333 requires that the members be approved by City Council. I will send brief biographies of each member to Council members to review and ask for their formal approval during Council’s February 10th meeting. The board members selected the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am as the Downtown Design Standards Review Board’s regular meeting date. The meetings will be held in the Service Director’s third floor conference room at City Hall.
As a reminder, this Friday January 31st is the deadline for submitting a Request for Proposal (RFP) to become the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Harry Clever Field. All RFPs should be sent to Service Director McAbier’s attention. The City’s Airport Commission will then assist the Administration in reviewing the RFPs and selecting a Fixed Base Operator for Harry Clever Field.
In order to learn where Harry Clever Field fits into the regional aviation picture, Service Director McAbier, City airport liaison Jeff Erb and myself attended Friday’s press conference to learn about the Akron Canton Airport’s five-year plan. CEO Ren Camacho said the plan will focus on strengthening the airport’s partnerships with its current airlines and foster growth opportunities to attract new airlines. He said a new restaurant that overlooks the airfield will be built and said a business development manager will be hired to expand the air freight business at the airport. The number of people using Akron-Canton has been trending downward. The information we learned will help the City make improvements at Harry Clever Field that keep our existing based aircraft and expand our flight services.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program was officially opened in Tuscarawas County today (Monday) by First Lady Fran Dewine. During her remarks at the Tuscarawas County Main Library Ohio’s First Lady thanked the local organizations and individuals who reacted quickly to support the reading program, which is modeled after Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The goal of the Imagination Libraries is to foster an early love for reading and prepare children for kindergarten. Every child under five years old in our county who is enrolled will receive a book to read each month. You can enroll a child online at www.ohioimaginationlibrary.org or contact The United Way of Tuscarawas County, which is coordinating and managing the local program.
The Tuscora Park Foundation’s Board of Trustees will have its annual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Saturday February 15th to raise money to help fund the dog park included in the first phase of the Southside Community Park construction. The Phase One state grant funding that the board has applied for will only cover the cost of fencing and waste disposal at the dog park. Other items needed are water fountains, benches, and agility or exercise equipment. The pancake breakfast will be held at Tuscora Park from 7am until 11am. Tickets are five dollars and are available in advance from any Foundation Board member or at the Mayor’s office. The Foundation Board has set the dog park, as well as new basketball courts and restrooms on Maloney Drive at Tuscora Park as its top funding priorities for the next two years. Visit the Foundation’s website at www.tuscoraparkfoundation.com for more information and to donate to its projects.
At its monthly meeting last Thursday, the City Cemetery Board selected “Schoenbrunn Meadow Cemetery” as the new name for the cemetery under construction on Delaware Drive SE. Work on the cemetery will resume in the spring when the weather breaks. If all goes as planned, the new office building and maintenance garage will be finished, and we will be ready to begin selling lots and cremation niches by late August or early September.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been issued to field responses from persons or companies interested in managing Harry Clever Field as a Fixed Base Operator (FBO). Those interested should contact City Service Director Ron McAbier or download the RFP from the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. The City’s contract with the current airport FBO expires next month. It’s been 20 years since the City advertised the FBO position.
On February 6th I will be traveling to Columbus to meet with State Representative Brett Hillyer, officials from JobsOhio and members of Team Northeast Ohio. We will discuss the shortcomings of the Howden Buffalo property, how to make developers more aware of it and the potential it holds for redevelopment. There are financial and job training incentives that could be provided by JobsOhio. The regional data analysis done by TeamNEO can give us an idea of why the 13 acre site remains unsold. Like me, Representative Hillyer is frustrated by the fact that several persons had shown interest in the property, but no purchase offers made that we are aware of.
A report issued by Zoning and Building Code Administrator Mike Scolati showed that, over the past four years, the City foreclosed on six properties: four of them went up for auction and two were demolished. The total amount of foreclosure fees reimbursed to the City by the County was $16,013.00. The report also showed that, last year, 18 demolition permits filed by property owners were approved and 96 letters were sent to property owners who faced violations for high grass, property cleanup, and a lack of building permits. Administrator Scolati stated in his report that City Council’s adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code has allowed his office to more effectively enforce property conditions and violations.
At last week’s Community Relations Committee meeting, I learned that Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital will continue to add new providers and services to its medical offices in 2020. A major computer upgrade will continue this year as well as major steps forward in the integration of the hospital into the Cleveland Clinic healthcare system. In addition, Cleveland Clinic’s acquisition of or merger with Mercy Hospital in Canton should be completed by July of this year. And hospital officials are exploring the development of an Orthopedic First Care Clinic in the New Philadelphia - Dover area, and will work to grow the hospital’s cardiology presence in the region.
New Philadelphia Police are continuing to investigate the weekend vandalism of nearly 50 vehicles in the City. Two teenagers have confessed to driving around town to smash the side view mirrors on the vehicles. But before charges can be filed, the department needs to make sure all owners of the vandalized vehicles have filed police reports. Contact Officer Tessa Pohovey if you haven’t. If the damage total exceeds one thousand dollars, the teens could face felony charges.
James and Lisa Lam will be ending nearly four decades in the restaurant business when they close Lam’s Oriental Cuisine on December 31st. The Lam’s business brought people from far and wide to New Philadelphia to enjoy their food and hospitality. Recently I presented them with a proclamation declaring December 31st as the “James and Lisa Lam and Lam’s Oriental Cuisine Appreciation Day” in the City. We wish them all the best in their retirement.
The long awaited opening of Menard’s, the State Route 416 paving project and the opening of the Kent State-Tuscarawas gateway roadway were just a few of the events that highlighted the growth of New Philadelphia in 2019. The artistic movement in the downtown area continued with new murals, the parklet on South Broadway and the opening of Alley Cats Marketplace and The Gift Shop. Using state grant money, construction of boat ramps at the Waterworks Fields Park and on State Route 416 restored the Tuscarawas River as a recreational asset that will have economic as well as lifestyle benefits. But we also had our share of challenges. The rupture of the fourteen inch water main that supplies City reservoirs was a clear warning that it’s time to invest in upgrading the City’s water distribution system. Many employers had a difficult time filling job openings. The opiate addiction rate dropped but the abuse of the equally deadly methamphetamine increased. Those challenges will continue into the New Year. However, because we are a City that relies on the strength of its residents and businesses, and because my Administration and City Council members are committed to moving the City forward, I am confident that 2020 will be another year of positive growth for New Philadelphia. I’m really looking forward to it. And I hope you are too.
Tonight (Monday) is the final Council meeting presided over by President Sam Hitchcock. He has shown exemplary leadership during his tenure as Council president. Often I relied on his experience and wisdom to gain the support of Council. But more importantly we developed a friendship that is ever lasting. While this is a sad occasion, it is also a time to celebrate Sam Hitchcock’s contributions to City government and his love of New Philadelphia. To show the City’s appreciation of his service to our local government, I would like to present President Hitchcock with this Key to the City plaque and wish him well in his retirement on behalf of all New Philadelphians.
Recently I participated in a teleconference with Federal Aviation Administration officials in its Detroit office to discuss future projects for Harry Clever Field. At the top of the list was the relocation of the runway taxiways to meet FAA standards. We also discussed replacement of the airport beacon light and the acquisition of property that would allow expansion of airport amenities and services. We have this conversation with the FAA-Detroit officials on an annual basis so they know what grant funding requests could be coming from the City over the next five years.
Because our City has the greatest population in Tuscarawas County, it has been selected by the Ohio Department of Health as the target area for an ODH grant to fund a local anti-tobacco campaign. The county Anti-Drug Coalition’s tobacco subcommittee is spearheading the effort, which hopes to decrease accessibility and availability of tobacco products to youth, as well as educate youth, parents and organizations on the harms of tobacco, especially vaping products. The New Philadelphia Health Department will oversee the subcommittee’s work and offer advice when necessary.
Thanks to the work of interim director Rick Arredondo, the board of directors and members of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association, the Downtown Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade returned the Spirit of Christmas to our town. Both events drew large crowds and showcased the musical and artistic talent that is alive and well in New Philadelphia. If you have Christmas shopping yet to do, please do it locally. We support each other by supporting our local businesses. Remember those in need this holiday season. Don’t forget that McInturf Realty’s Christmas in the Park is coming up on Sunday December 15th from 4pm – 8pm at Tuscora Park.
I would now like to yield the remainder of my Mayor’s Report time to Carl Hoffmann of Horizon Networks and James West of Pioneer 360. They are going to explain the agreement the City has reached with Horizon to connect all municipal buildings with fiber optic cable. They will also describe how the broadband fiber connections between our buildings will increase productivity, eliminate unnecessary computer hardware and raise the level of security across the network. The new fiber network will also open the door for the possibility of putting an Internet Wi-Fi cloud over the downtown area and for the City to utilize technologies that require high speed broadband connections. The cost to the City will be about what is paid now for just Internet service to all of the municipal buildings. Horizon has agreed to bear the expense of building the new fiber network, because it will help them to offer their services to New Philadelphia businesses and residents.
Mr. Hoffmann and Mr. West, thank you for being here. You now have the floor…
The City Board of Health has adopted fee increases for food service operations, retail food establishments and plan reviews. The new fees go into effect on December 1st. They reflect the increased administrative costs to the department. The fees vary depending upon the type of business and the scope of plan reviews. For more information, contact Environmental Health Director Lee Finley at the Health Department.
What to name the new cemetery? That is the next task for the City Cemetery Board now that the new City cemetery on Delaware Drive SE is under construction. Board members have been asked to come up with suggestions and bring them to the board’s December 12th monthly meeting. Two City cemeteries were named after their locations: Fair Avenue and East Avenue. Evergreen cemetery used to belong to Goshen Township. Naming the new cemetery may seem like a mundane task, until you realize that the name will outlive all of us. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a suggestion.
The City is seeking a Federal EPA grant to further assess the environmental issues at two sites on Mill Avenue SW: at the former Puritan Laundry location and the vacant Howden Buffalo plant. Service Director McAbier and I are working with Trina Woodland of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association on an application for a Brownfield Assessment Grant. For the Puritan Laundry site, the grant would help determine what it will take to restore the property’s value for commercial development. For the Howden site, the grant would assess the current state of its environmental remediation and assess the need for asbestos remediation in the older buildings. Both sites are in key locations in the City. These issues stand in the way of their redevelopment.
Rob McCullough, the owner of Crete Clothing, put it best in his recent Facebook post: “Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as our region's tax base. Whether you realize it or not, when you shop local you are individually stimulating the local economy with your support and in turn, helping shape your community's unique character and personality.” Supporting our local businesses puts food on the table for the families of owners and employees. It provides the tax revenue necessary to keep our City safe, well maintained and attractive. When you shop locally you’re helping our town and our residents, as well as our businesses. Let’s take care of each other by shopping together this holiday season.
The sights and sounds of last Friday’s annual City Christmas Lighting Ceremony was a reminder of what a blessing it is to live in New Philadelphia. The event again revealed the faithfulness and talent that exists in our community. We have our share of problems. But there is still much to celebrate and be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving New Philadelphia. As a reminder, City Hall will be closed on Friday November 29th.
Before his appearance in the City’s annual Christmas Parade, Santa Claus will make a special stop at his house on the downtown Courthouse quadrant on Saturday November 30th from 10am to Noon. The parade is Friday December 6th. It starts at 6:30 pm at Tuscora Park. And letters to Santa can now be mailed to the North Pole from his mailbox beside his house.
The Insurance Services Offices Incorporated, commonly called ISO, recently analyzed the City’s fire protection services using the benchmarks of its Public Protection Classification or PPC. The result was an improved rating from a Class 3 to a Class 2. Continued improvements in firefighting procedures, training, and upgrading of equipment and facilities as well as adding 6 additional Firefighter/Paramedics made a measurable difference for New Philadelphia. Data provided by Water Department Superintendent Scott DeVault also contributed to the PPC upgrade. According to ISO, the higher classification should secure lower fire insurance premiums because of the better protection. Inform your insurance agent of the change. The higher rating also helps to keep and attract businesses to New Philadelphia. This could not have been possible without the commitments by Safety Director Popham, Fire Chief Parrish and City Council to provide our community with the best fire protection possible.
The congregation of Sacred Heart Parish is celebrating the opening of its new Parish Center on Fair Avenue NE. The facility was built on the site of the former Sacred Heart Elementary School. The Parish Center will help to expand Sacred Heart’s service to the congregation and the community. It is a very nice improvement to the downtown area. The City’s Master Plan that is in development has identified our downtown churches as being key assets to our City.
My Executive Assistant Mary Ann Otte is leading the effort to improve the way the City will disseminate information to the public in emergency situations. At last week’s administrative staff meeting, department heads identified our messaging as the weak link in the response to the recent water main break. Improvements will be made to assure that, in emergencies, our information to the public is accurate and concise, and delivered in a timely manner.
The City’s annual Holiday Downtown Lighting Ceremony will be on Friday November 22nd at 6pm on the gazebo quadrant. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Central Elementary third and fourth graders, the Broadway Methodist Church choir and the Kent State Tuscarawas University choir. Storyteller Nancy DeFlippo will read “The Night Before Christmas”. And downtown merchants and restaurants will have special offers for the occasion. The City’s annual Christmas parade will be held on Friday December 6th. It will step off on North Broadway at Tuscora Park at 6:30pm.
I would like to congratulate Auditor Beth Gundy, Council members Dean Holland, Aimee May and Kelly Ricklic and Law Director Marvin Fete for being re-elected to their positions. It is gratifying to know that we can continue to work together to assure that New Philadelphia remains as Tuscarawas County’s leading city and a great, family-oriented community.
The commitment, talent and work ethic shown last week by our City employees and supervisors made me very proud to be the mayor of this City and grateful that they are working for the people and businesses of New Philadelphia. Had they not responded quickly to last Thursday’s rupture of the 14 inch water main that feeds City reservoirs, the water emergency could have been worse. Also I can’t give enough praise to R.A. Watson Excavating, for bringing its track hoe and the personnel necessary to help us locate the rupture, dig 14 feet to get to it and make the proper repair. I also thank Councilman Ricklic for his help by sharing his knowledge of our water distribution system. The teamwork shown by all involved was impressive.
The staff of the City Health Department also did a great job of responding to the emergency. State Health Department guidelines were followed, including those that required restaurants in the City to close as a precautionary measure. Testing of the water following the break showed no contamination in the distribution system.
One area we have to work on in our response to emergencies is getting out accurate information in a timely fashion. I have asked our department heads to review their response and communication protocols and bring ideas on how we can improve them to our monthly staff meeting in November.
It was ironic that the day before the water main break, I received the results of the Ohio EPA’s recent survey of the City’s public water system. The survey found no violations of Ohio safe drinking water laws or rules. However it did reveal that 90% of the water mains and valves in the system are more than 30 years old. Additionally, our water wells date back to 1921, 1966, 1967 and 1980. The OEPA recommended that the City should begin planning for necessary upgrades and replacements.
The City’s annual Trick or Treat Night is Tues., Oct. 29 from 6pm until 8pm. If you would like the kids to come to your door, leave the porch light on. Motorists, please exercise caution at intersections during those hours. City police will be patrolling the neighborhoods. Some of the officers will be passing out candy. If you have any incidents, don’t hesitate to inform them.
At the request of both sides, Fire Chief Parrish and I have opened discussions with the Goshen Township Board of Trustees regarding the City’s ability to provide fire protection to the township beyond the current contract. The City’s contract with the township expires in 2021. The fire and EMS service study conducted last year by Emergency Services Consulting International showed a wide disparity between what New Philadelphia and Goshen Township pay for fire protection. A chart on page 149 of the study shows that New Philadelphia pays $195.32 per capita (per person) and Goshen Township $23.08 per capita. Our discussions are centered on finding ways to close that gap and meet the future costs of providing fire protection to the township.
Friday night’s Philly-Dover game at Crater Stadium could be another classic. Our undefeated Quakers are ranked number one by the Associated Press among Ohio’s Division Three high school teams. And they’ve already clinched a post-season playoff spot. The Tornadoes, on the other hand, will probably have to win in order to qualify for the playoffs. According to Quakers’ head coach Matt Dennison, in their past eight meetings, five of those games were decided by who had the last possession of the football. This could be another one!
There are several community events this week leading up to Friday night’s contest. Thursday at New Philadelphia High School the annual Community Spaghetti Dinner begins at 5pm, followed by the Community Pep Rally at 7pm in the high school gym.
The Quaker Club’s annual Rally in the Alley starts at 8:30pm at the Broadway Brew House and the Tuscora Park Foundation’s Barbeque lunch is Friday from 11am – 2pm at the Tuscora Park Pavilion.
Enacting Chapter 1333 of the City’s Codified Ordinances
Chapter 1333 of the City’s Codified Ordinances has never been implemented since its adoption in July of 1989. The law creates a Design Review Board, which establishes architectural design standards for structures in the downtown area. It’s time to put this ordinance into effect to further assist the revitalization of the Central Business District and to have our downtown achieve a uniform, attractive look. I ask Council members to read section 1333.04 of the ordinance and send me the names of candidates for the Design Review Board. The design standards should be obtainable and should help owners increase the value of their downtown property.
A public meeting will be held this coming Wednesday October 16th to present a plan being developed to connect bicycle and walking trails in the City with other trails throughout the county. The meeting will begin at 6pm in City Council chambers and will be hosted by Dan Rice of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition and Envision, a consulting group hired by the East High Avenue Corridor Committee. The committee, led by County Commissioner Joe Sciarretti, has been working on the plan for the past 18 months. The connectivity plan will be rolled into the City’s master/vision plan, which will direct future growth and economic development.
State Jail Inspector David Hicks has announced that a recent inspection revealed that the New Philadelphia City Jail is in compliance with the Minimum Standards for Jails in Ohio. The inspection found the jail in compliance with 108 standards, 51 “Essential” and 57 “Important”. I commend Police Chief Mike Goodwin and his staff for continuing to meet and exceed the State’s standards for jail operations. And I hope that less people need to spend time in our jail to learn how well it’s operated.
The fall version of Art on the Alley downtown is coming up on Sunday October 20th from Noon until 5 pm. And according to organizer Rick Arredondo, every vendor location at the event has been filled. It will be a mix of new and returning artists and vendors with live music and entertainment on the 1st Drive NW and 1st Drive SW stages. Art on the Alley is becoming a signature community event for downtown New Philadelphia. Bring the family, invite your friends and neighbors and join in the celebration of our town and our area’s artistic talent.
I’d like to give a special shout out to the state-ranked New Philadelphia High School Quakers Volleyball Team, for repeating as East Central Ohio League champions. We wish you the best of luck in the post-season tournament. The achievements of the girls’ athletic programs in all of New Philadelphia’s schools are a great source of community pride.
The property that used to be the Hong Kong Buffet on West High Avenue has been sold, and will now be the site of a new Verizon cellular communications store. Construction of the building is now underway. My office has not received word on whether the Verizon store on Mill Avenue SE will be affected by the new construction.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has painted new crosswalk markings at the Bluebell Drive and West High Avenue intersection. The City requested that the crosswalks be included in ODOT’s redesign and re-signalization of the intersection. Now pedestrians staying at motels in the area can more safely cross the streets to walk to restaurants and shopping areas.
At its September 10th monthly meeting, the City Planning Commission tabled a request to approve the Rutledge Gates phase three development on Deer Park Drive NE. The members asked the developer to provide more assurances that the new home construction would not cause additional storm water runoff problems in the area. With the heavy rains we’ve experienced in the City over the past three years, storm water runoff has become more of an issue.
The importance of our Fire Department’s fire and EMS training was recognized last week when the State Fire Marshal’s office gave its Valor Award to City Firefighter Jamie Burgasser. In March, she and her husband Matthew, a Massillon firefighter, came to the aid of fellow passengers injured on a crippled cruise ship that was damaged by rough seas off the coast of Norway. According to the Fire Marshal, her training “made a dangerous situation much safer by assisting both crew and fellow passengers.” By the way, Firefighter Burgasser just became a certified Public Safety Diver, which qualified her to become a member of the New Philadelphia-Dover Fire Dive Team. I am proud of her accomplishments and how she represents the standard of excellence that has been set for our safety forces.
To conclude my report to City Council, I would like to yield the balance of my time to Dan Rice, the president and CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition. He will update Council on the development of a New Philadelphia Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity Plan. The plan will show how New Philadelphia will serve as the backbone connecting bike paths being developed throughout Tuscarawas County.
Our City is mourning the passing of former Police Chief and City Councilman Jim Locker, who died on Sunday following a brief illness. I had the honor of serving on City Council with Chief Locker, and saw firsthand his love and passion for New Philadelphia and its people. This City is in a better place because of Jim Locker, and I ask that you join me in extending condolences and prayers to his wife Francis, his children and other family members.
At its recently monthly meeting, members of the Tuscarawas County Mayors Association shared their concerns over the area’s shortage of licensed operators of municipal water and waste water plants. The shortage is threatening to put villages and cities out of compliance with Ohio EPA regulations that require licensed operators to submit data and oversee the operation of water and sewer systems. The mayors will invite representatives from Buckeye Career Center and local license holders to the association’s next meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a program that would encourage high school graduates and adults to become licensed and fill the need for qualified operators.
Because of conflicts with the traditional Thursday events of Philly-Dover football week, the City will hold its annual Trick or Treat Night on Tuesday October 29th from 6pm to 8pm. The NPHS community spaghetti dinner and pep rally are on the 31st, as well as the Quaker Club’s annual Rally in the Alley.
The New Philadelphia Business and Community Association is sponsoring a Family Board Game Night on Saturday September 21st on the square downtown. The event will be held from 2pm until 11pm and will feature over 100 games to play. For more info, contact the NPBCA office at the Convention and Visitors office on East High Avenue.
A new dining venue opened last week in downtown New Philadelphia, appropriately named “The Venue.” It’s located next to the JNG Grill on Front Avenue and is owned by local restauranteur Ron Rosenthal. The Venue is not a restaurant per se but more of a place to host banquets, corporate and private events, as well as entertainment and culinary events. It’s a new concept that should fit into the expanding choices of dining and nightlife in our downtown Central Business District.
The biggest food truck fest in Tuscarawas County headlines the Labor Day Weekend events in New Philadelphia. The annual Jammin’ Food Truck Fest at the lower level of Schoenbrunn Village is on Saturday August 31st from 11am to 7pm. It features no less than 13 food trucks, an assortment of live bands, a beer garden and family activities. The event is a fundraiser to support the operations of the historic Schoenbrunn Village, the historic Dennison Railroad Depot Museum and the county’s museum of Clay and Folk Art.
In addition, the rides, concessions and swimming pool will be open at Tuscora Park throughout the holiday weekend. So take the kids on one more ride, one more taste of cotton candy and candied apples and one more dip in the pool before the summer season comes to a close.
The City Planning Commission has sent two rezoning recommendations to City Council’s Zoning and Annexation committee to consider. The first is a recommendation to rezone from industrial to business the former Zimmer manufacturing plant building on Kaderly Avenue Northwest. The recommendation also includes several other surrounding properties that are currently zoned industrial. The commission made the recommendation to protect the adjacent residential areas from industrial development and also to expand the businesses use of the former Zimmer plant to accommodate restaurant and retail growth.
The second recommendation is to rezone two properties at 333 and 401 Canal Avenue SE from industrial to business. The owners requested the rezoning to allow for possible future business development in the area adjacent to Mark’s Place and South Side Professional Building.
If you are trimming trees, bushes or shrubs, or doing remodeling at your home, please remember to first call the City Garage to order a special pickup. The phone number is 330-339-2121. Otherwise work crews have no idea that you’ve put it on the curb, and it could sit there longer than it should. The General Services Department is making a concerted effort to keep up with the special pickup orders in order to keep our neighborhoods attractive. Please do your part by notifying the office anytime you have a special pickup. City ordinance allows residents to have three special pickups each year without extra fees.
At today’s County Chamber of Commerce “Lunch and Learn” event, Dr. Edward Sabenegh of the Cleveland Clinic told of the Clinic’s plans to add doctors, nurse practitioners and programs to Union Hospital and its growing network in Tuscarawas County. Dr. Sabenegh is president of the Clinic’s main campus in Cleveland and has been working closely with Union Hospital CEO Bruce James to integrate UH into the Cleveland Clinic system. He said the Clinic is bringing new technologies to Union Hospital that will make it easier for patients to communicate with their doctors and quickly learn the results of medical testing. I told Dr. Sabenegh that New Philadelphia will do all it can to help the Clinic recruit doctors and expand its services in our City.
During his presentation last week on the KSU-Tusc campus, Akron-Canton Airport president and CEO Ren Camacho told a group of county economic development and local government officials that the airport is encouraging a stronger relationship with Tuscarawas County. He updated the group on the airport’s gate renovation and expansion projects and its marketing efforts to make Akron-Canton the preferred regional airport for manufacturers, healthcare and service industries. He also said there are plans to add additional airlines and flights to Dallas to serve the growing petrochemical industry in our region.
In 2018 Akron-Canton served 930,000 customers in a region that has more population than that of Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Tuscarawas County will have a new exhibit at Akron-Canton that will showcase products that are made in our county.
20 canoeists and kayakers used Saturday’s ribbon cutting ceremony as the occasion to become among the first persons to use the City’s new boat ramps on the Tuscarawas River. All reported that it was a very relaxing hour long journey from the Waterworks Park ramp to the ramp on State Route 416. I would like to thank Horizons Incorporated for donating a van and driver to shuttle the floaters back to the Waterworks Park from the 416 ramp. The new locations will boost the county effort to have the Tuscarawas River listed as a designated waterway by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That designation will give more publicity to our new access to the river, which in turn will bring more tourism dollars and business opportunities to New Philadelphia.
Next week the City will be re-applying for State Natural Resources Department Clean Ohio grant funding to begin construction of phase one of the Southside Community Park. The application will be for just over $1.8 million dollars. Phase one includes construction of a new entrance roadway from Oldtown Valley Road, a dog park, a butterfly habitat, parking lots and a walking trail through the wooded area of the park. If the grant money is awarded, construction should begin by November of this year.
Last week I learned the disappointing news that another potential buyer decided not to purchase the Howden Buffalo property on Mill Avenue SW. Besides the number of structures on the site, potential liability issues from the site’s chemical spill cleanup appear to be discouraging new ownership. I have reached out to the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association for help in determining whether the site would be eligible for funding from the Ohio Brownfield Program, so additional remediation of the spill could be done to remove the fear of liability. The plant’s buildings have sat vacant now for four years.
A representative of the Federal Census Bureau has come to New Philadelphia to begin laying the groundwork for the City’s participation in the 2020 U. S. Census. The goal is to have as many residents as possible respond to the census questionnaire. The more accurate our census, the more Federal tax dollars the City can receive for neighborhood Community Development Block Grant projects, major infrastructure projects, municipal airport maintenance and other eligible projects. The Mayor’s office will soon be contacting groups from all sectors of our community to ask for their help in organizing and conducting the local census next year. Hispanic residents and residents under the age of five were under-counted in the last 10 year census. The Bureau wants to do a better job with those groups this time around.
Motorists be aware that Buckeye Career Center will start classes on Monday August 19th, students of Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School begin their new school year on Wednesday August 21st and New Philadelphia City Schools students start their new year on Thursday August 22nd. The City Police Department is still in need of school crossing guards. It’s a paid, part-time position. If you’re interested, contact Captain Joe Skinner at the police department by calling 330-343-4488.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has installed new traffic signals and pedestrian crossing controls at the West High Avenue and Bluebell Drive NW intersection. Next, new pedestrian crosswalk striping will be applied to the roadways. Motels and restaurants in the area have asked for the crosswalks so that patrons can more safely cross the streets. The second phase of the ODOT project will extend the middle turn lane from the railroad tracks on West High to the Bluebell intersection. The re-signalization and lane re-design are intended to better control the traffic flow in the area.
High water levels on the Tuscarawas River have postponed the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the City’s new boat ramps. The ceremony will now be held at noon on Saturday August 10th. The National Weather Service is forecasting that the levels should be lower by that date so that canoeists and kayakers who participate in the grand opening can safely float on the river. Construction of the parking area and ramp at the Waterworks Fields Park have been completed. Parking is in the grassy area beside the long storage building. The gravel roadway leads to the boat ramp. Four wheel drive vehicles are required to back any boat trailers down the ramp. Construction of the boat ramp on State Route 416 should be finished by the end of the month.
Kelly Herron, the City’s Superintendent of Cemetery Operations and members of the City Cemetery Board have been working to update the City cemetery rules and regulations. Once completed they will be posted on the Cemetery Department’s web page as well as the City’s web site. From what we’ve determined, the rules and regs have not been updated since the 1960’s. The revisions reflect the growing popularity of cremation burials and changes in cemetery operations.
Meanwhile construction of the new cemetery on Delaware Drive SE is slated to begin this fall.
On behalf of all New Philadelphians, I send condolences and prayers to the family of Bill Ress, who died after a brief illness this past weekend. He was a local business owner, but was more recognized for his service as a New Philadelphia City Councilman, Tuscarawas County Commissioner and State Senator. Bill was a tireless supporter of New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas County and encouraged many of us to follow his path into public service. His passion for our community will not be forgotten.
I have asked Mike Scolati, the City’s Building and Zoning Code Administrator and Law Director Marvin Fete’s office to research ways to toughen City ordinances that deal with abuse of the City’s trash regulations and extra pickups by the Sanitation Department. The intent is to discourage situations like you see in this photo.
We have learned that landlord evictions are often the cause of such messes. And there are landlords who bring trash into town from their out of town rentals. These situations not only cost the City more money in the man hours necessary to remove the trash, but they also pose health and safety hazards and do not reflect well on the pride we have of our City.
Interim Executive Director Rick Arredondo and members of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association are planning a new twist to the traditional summertime downtown sidewalk sales. This year’s event has been renamed the “Sidewalk Experience” because of the addition of live entertainment, food trucks, a farmers market, special merchant and restaurant promotions and a new healthy community fair. Mark your calendars. The New Philadelphia Sidewalk Experience is this Friday July 26th and Saturday July 27th from 9am to 6pm throughout the downtown area. More details can be found on the NPBCA’s Facebook page and on its website at www.newphiladelphia.org. See you there!
On behalf of all citizens of New Philadelphia I thank the members of the First Town Days Festival Committee for giving us another celebration to remember. Despite the muggy weather and Sunday’s rain shortened car show, the 2019 Festival was a success. I was fortunate to be Chaz Willet’s assistant coach of the City Slickers
softball team that swept the County Terminators in two straight games on Saturday morning. As a result, the City‐County Game trophy remains at City Hall. I also want to congratulate newly crowned Festival Queen Phylicia Christmas and her first attendant Chloe Martin. They will spend the next year representing New Philadelphia across the state.
After discussions with City Safety Director Greg Popham and Central Elementary Principal John Zucal, I instructed the City Traffic Department to erect one way traffic signs on First Drive NW, going south, between North Avenue and Ray Avenue NW. When the new school year starts, we hope this change will help alleviate the traffic congestion around the school at the start and end of the school day. We decided to put the signs up now to give motorists an opportunity to adjust to the one way traffic pattern.
Over the past three months Service Director McAbier and I have visited several of the City’s major manufacturers, and all of them have reported that their business outlook remains positive and they are hiring. However there is still a shortage of skilled workers, particularly welders and machinists, to fill job openings. On the other hand, local retailers we have talked with say that they continue to fight an uphill battle against
online shopping and bigger competitors. New Philadelphia’s small businesses depend upon local shoppers. New Philadelphia’s merchants pride themselves in providing quality customer service as well as competitive prices and selection. I encourage you to search for a local source first, before you go online to order from Amazon.
To help improve the attraction of our neighborhoods in the City, I’m asking contractors, landlords and home owner do-it-yourselfers to avoid putting refuse materials on curb strips. Instead, please haul the materials away yourself or place it where it cannot be seen from the street. If you call the City Garage for a special pickup, tell us where the refuse is located. City ordinance allows for three special pickups per year without extra charges.
This past Friday I had the honor of participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome Lightning Signs to its new downtown location at the corner of Front Avenue and South Broadway. Lightning owner Chris Call says he intends to expand his business and utilize the large side lot to host downtown events this summer. It’s exciting to see the number of small businesses that are choosing to locate or relocate in downtown New Philadelphia.
Plans are underway to officially open the City’s new boat ramps into the Tuscarawas River. On Saturday July 20th at Noon we will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Waterworks Fields Park to officially open the ramp at that location and also the second location on State Route 416 at the former Carlisle Canoe Livery. Officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Rural Ohio and the Ohio chapter of the American Canoe Association are helping me organize the event. Having easier access to river recreation should attract more tourism dollars into the City.
At the recent Ohio Mayors Association Conference I attended in Columbus, Lt. Governor John Husted told members that he and Governor Dewine intend to strengthen the state’s relationships with local governments. But he made no commitment that any of the $450 million in local government funding cuts made by the previous administration would be restored. The loss of the funding has hit Ohio’s smaller municipalities and villages particularly hard. New Philadelphia has lost approximately $3million over the past five years. These are tax dollars we all pay to the state that could be used to pay for city services. Last week the Ohio Senate passed a budget bill that restores $5million of the cuts. But there is no guarantee that it will remain in the final compromise budget worked out between the Ohio House and Senate.
I have pledged $4000.00 from the Mayor’s budget to help fund a master plan to connect bicycle trails coming from the south and north to trails being developed in New Philadelphia. The plan would focus on using East High Avenue as the main connection corridor, bringing together trails from SR 416, the KSU-Tusc campus and Schoenbrunn, and connecting them to downtown New Philadelphia. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail would come from Dover along Tuscarawas Avenue, through the Five Points intersection and onto Waterworks Fields Park. Several manufacturers in the Reiser Avenue Industrial Park area have pledged funds to the study, as well as local tourist attractions and the Ohio and Erie Canal Coalition.
The contractor is putting the finishing touches on construction of the boat ramp at the Waterworks Fields Park. But before its opened for public use, directional and instructional signs have to be erected on the grounds, and navigation and warning signs posted along the river water way. The City is also awaiting approval from AEP to use a small portion of its land off of Mill Avenue for a portage around the sewer line concrete encasement that spans the river. When everything’s ready, we will have an official opening ribbon-cutting ceremony. In the meantime, the contractor will move on to finish the second boat ramp at the former Carlisle Canoe Livery on State Route 416. I expect that project to be completed by mid-July.
Hawkins Incorporated, a chemical distribution company from Minnesota, is purchasing a warehouse on Commercial Avenue SE to expand its business into Ohio. Company officials came to New Philadelphia last week to meet with myself, Service Director McAbier, Fire Chief Jim Parrish and Mike Scolati, the City’s Building and Zoning Code Administrator. They wanted to learn more about the City and County, our city services and our permitting processes. Primarily Hawkins provides treatment chemicals used in municipal and industrial water and waste water plants. The company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ and expects to employ up to 10 sales drivers and warehouse personnel. I would like to thank Harry Eadon and Jason Ricker of the County Economic Development Corporation for helping bring Hawkins to our town.
In an update meeting today, my Railroad Task Force learned that RJ Corman officials have decided not to purchase the rail line that runs from Dover through New Philadelphia to Uhrichsville. Instead, Corman said it would be interested in being the operator of the line if a local group could buy it from CSX Railroad. State Representative Brett Hillyer has been working with CSX in Columbus to keep the door open for a local purchase. So today, the task force began planning to form a local ownership group and a purchase strategy to present to CSX.
I have been working with Kelly Herron, the City’s Superintendent of Cemetery Operations, to rewrite the cemetery rules and regulations. They have not been revised since the 1970s. The revised version will be presented to the Cemetery Board for review and further refinement. Then I will ask that they be assigned to Council’s Parks and Cemeteries committee so legislation can be written to codify the rules and regulations.
If you’re looking for a new place for your morning, afternoon or evening walk, I encourage you to use the Crider Avenue Walking Trail. It’s located at the end of Crider Avenue off of Beaver Avenue NW. The trail winds through a wooded area that will put you closer to nature. There is a large parking lot and picnic tables too.
Safety Director Greg Popham and Police Chief Mike Goodwin have received a letter recommending that Pete, the City’s police dog, be retired because of health issues. K-9 officer Michael Pierce wrote the recommendation, stating that the deterioration of the dog’s spinal nerves has affected his hind legs. Pete is nine years old and has served the department for the past seven. Officer Pierce said he intends to solicit donations to replace Pete for the continued success of the New Philadelphia Police Department’s K-9 program.
At its monthly meeting on May 14th, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that City Council rezone two properties on Kaderly Street NW from residential to business. The properties are owned by HRN Construction and Restoration. It has been operating the business there for several years under a variance given by the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Because of the growth of business in the area, the Commission is considering a further recommendation to rezone all properties in the area bounded by Wabash Avenue, Kaderly Street, Anola Avenue and Monroe Avenue NW to business. Property owners in the area have been notified by mail and invited to comment at the Planning Commission’s June 11th meeting, which begins at 1pm in City Council chambers at City Hall.
The Tuscarawas County Commissioners have created a Transportation Improvement District that will give the county more access to state funding to resolve traffic issues like the ones New Philadelphia has at the I-77/250 West High interchange and the South Broadway 250 interchange. The district’s board of trustees appointed by the Commissioners include the mayors of New Philadelphia and Newcomerstown, the County Engineer, a county port authority representative and a private citizen. The board held its organizational meeting last Thursday and started compiling a list of projects to submit to the Ohio Department of Transportation for funding.
New Towne Mall will be the site of a hazardous material response exercise this Sunday that will involve first responders from New Philadelphia and surrounding communities. Alex McCarthy, director of the county’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency office, planned the drill, which will simulate a response to a chemical spill at a loading dock. The four hour exercise will begin at 8am. The scenario will be practiced three times by departments from Dover, Uhrichsville and New Phila
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