- Published: April 8, 2010
The new Village dog park will remain at Ellis Park, after the majority of Council members were not swayed at their April 5 meeting by arguments to relocate the park to a new location.
Council had voted unanimously at its March 15 meeting to move ahead with creating a dog park at Ellis Park, after a lengthy controversy about the park’s location. While Ellis Park had been the original site proposed by the two Yellow Springs High School seniors who organized the effort, Council members responded to concerns from those who view Ellis as a nature sanctuary, and next focused on an unused part of Gaunt Park. However, neighbors mounted a campaign against the plan due to concerns about noise and safety, so Council voted at its last meeting to move ahead with locating the park at its originally proposed location. Because the dog park legislation was a resolution rather than an ordinance, it only required one vote instead of the initial and final votes required by most ordinances.
Since Council’s last meeting, several people who value Ellis Park for its peacefulness circulated a petition requesting that the dog park be located somewhere else, with possible locations the north side of the Bryan Center or the site of the former Stutzman’s Gardening and Landscaping. The petition was signed by 126 people, and several who attended the April 5 meeting spoke against the Ellis Park location.
A dog park would be “too much for the pond and that beautiful ecosystem,” said Liz Porter, who expressed concern that increased traffic at the dog park would adversely affect the pond’s wildlife.
In presenting the petition, Maureen Dawn read a letter that included “themes” that had emerged from those who opposed the Ellis Park location, including that the process was faulty because the March 15 vote on the Ellis location was unexpected; that the 40-year effort by the Yellow Springs Tree Committee to plant trees at the pond would be harmed; and that it is “ethically wrong” for Council member Karen Wintrow, whose son is one of the two students involved in the project, to be involved in the votes and the discussions around the park.
In a presentation, tree committee president Dan Beverly suggested that the north side of Bryan Center would be a better dog park location, partly due to the amenities already available there and its lighting and safety.
After hearing from community members, John Booth expressed his concern that a less controversial location be found, and Judith Hempfling stated that she would propose to relocate the park to Bryan Center because villagers had convinced her that Ellis Park was “a bird sanctuary and a true arboretum.”
However, the remaining three Council members opposed moving the park location.
“I’m disinclined to spend more time on this,” Lori Askeland said, citing the many hours spent already on the dog park by Village Manager Mark Cundiff and Council members. Rick Walkey believed villagers are “overemphasizing the impact” that the dog park will have on Ellis Park. And Wintrow stated that she felt the dog park “is not incompatible with Ellis.”
Wintrow also reacted strongly to the suggestion in the petition that her participation in the issue is not ethical.
“To claim that something is unethical or improper deserves an apology,” she said, stating that Village Law Director John Chambers had already ruled her participation in the issue to be acceptable because it does not involve financial gain.
Because the majority of Council indicated that they would not support it, Hempfling did not pursue her proposal to change the location.
In other Village business:
• Council members and villagers engaged in a spirited discussion regarding the recommendation by the Environmental Commission that the Village cease its practice of fluoridating Village water. About 40 villagers attended the meeting, with the majority present due to this issue.
While Council had originally planned to vote on a first reading of an ordinance to stop fluoridating the water, with a final vote at its second April meeting, Council members agreed that the topic is too complex to address in so short a time. Instead, they engaged in discussion only and will continue the discussion at their May 3 meeting, in order to give villagers an opportunity to research the issue.
Environmental Commission member Eli Hurwitz presented that group’s recommendation that the Village cease its practice of fluoridating the water, which began in 1955. Since then, he said, research had shown a “causal” link between fluoridated water and cancer, thyroid problems, bone disease and lower IQs.
While the topical use of fluoride does promote tooth health, it is unsafe to force villagers to ingest the substance, according to EC member Vickie Hennessy, who described fluoride as “toxic,” and read the FDA warning on a toothpaste box that instructs those who ingest more than a “pea-size” amount to contact poison control.
“They wouldn’t put that on the package if it weren’t dangerous,” she said.
However, there is no evidence of fluoride causing any harm in its more than five decades of local use and much evidence of its benefits, according to retired physician Dr. Carl Hyde, who stated that “all the dentists and physicians in Yellow Springs” support fluoride in the water.
After researching the issue, Angela Brintlinger stated that she didn’t think “the links have been proven” between fluoridated water and health problems, and she urged Council not to remove it from the water supply.
Several Council members and villagers referred to a six-page document by Askeland, in which she presented her thoughts after researching the subject. Those on both sides of the issue tend to exaggerate their case, according to Askeland, who said that the term “toxic” can mean anything, and that fluoride naturally occurs in many ingested substances, including tea. She also stated that it’s not clear there is a “causal” link between fluoridated water and cancer and other health problems.
However, “what gives me pause,” Askeland said, is that the type of fluoride put in water is clearly linked to an increased risk of health problems in children exposed to lead. She also stated her concerns that fluoridating water does not give people a choice regarding ingesting the substance, and that some people are more sensitive to it than others.
“I believe that taking fluoride out of the water is a good idea,” she said, if the move is accompanied by an educational program on dental health for local schools and community members, to be created by the EC.
• Other April 5 Council business will be covered in the April 15 News.
• At a special meeting March 31, Council members unanimously approved the second reading of the 2010 Village budget.