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Council news—Visioning finalists chosen

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At their Feb. 17 meeting, members of Village Council approved two firms as finalists for the job of leading the village in a visioning effort.

The finalists are ACP Visioning and Planning of Columbus and a collaboration of the New Mexico-based Regenesis Group and Kinzelman Kline Gossman in Columbus. Council will choose the winning firm after representatives from both firms visit Yellow Springs for a public forum, which will probably take place next month.

Last year Council charged the Visioning/Planning Task Force with presenting Council with a short list of firms to lead a visioning process. Several Council members stated that the process could help the village find consensus and clarity on difficult issues, such as residential growth, economic development and land use issues.

“Visioning is the path, the way we need to take to go forward,” said Council member Karen Wintrow at the meeting.

Task force members have stated that they hope to launch the visioning process later this spring.

At the meeting, task force leader Len Kramer reported that the group received 27 Request for Proposals, or RFPs, after putting out a call in the fall. A subgroup of the task force culled through those submissions and chose six finalists, out of which four were presented to Council.

While the task force initially presented four finalists at the meeting, Council decided to focus only on ACP and Regenesis/KKG after Kramer stated that those two were the clear favorites.

In an executive summary, ACP was described as a national firm that impressed task force members with its “long history of visioning work in a variety of types of communities.” In addition, according to the report, the task force was impressed with the firm’s experience with college towns and felt it would “be a good fit for Yellow Springs and Miami Township.”

Regenesis emphasizes “the story of place” in its work, the summary stated, and task force members who favored this firm “felt this process has the capacity to reach deeply into the community and draw out groups that often do not participate in public processes.” While distance is a concern since Regenesis is based in New Mexico, the firm’s collaboration with the Columbus-based KKG would make it more accessible, according to the report.

Council members will decide soon on a time for a special meeting at which the two firms will meet with villagers and task force members.

In other Village business:

• Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce President Dan Young and board member Ben Smith presented the 2008 chamber report.

At a recent retreat, chamber board members agreed to continue work on the group’s three 2008 goals, Young said. Those goals are to provide leadership for economic development in Yellow Springs, to promote the village as a destination and to promote the chamber itself, according to Young and Smith.

Regarding providing leadership, Young stated that the chamber sees itself working with Village Council, Miami Township trustees and Community Resources to “advance the opportunities to retain and attract jobs” to the village. The chamber is now a member of the Dayton Development Coalition, he said, a move that will help the village “take advantage of opportunities in the region.”

Chamber board members are Dave Boyer of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Elise Click of WesBanco, Ellen Hoover of Millworks, Jacki Mayer of WYSO, Lynda Sirk of Antioch University, Anthony Barry of SuperFly Comics, Penny Eck of YSI, Lisa Goldberg of Lisa Goldberg Ceramics, Seth Gordon of Antioch University McGregor and Roger Reynolds of Glen Helen.

• Council members discussed possible sites for a new Verizon cell phone tower in downtown Yellow Springs. Sites being considered are the southwest corner of the Bryan Center property; near the Village pump station on the east side of Xenia Avenue; along the south side of Cemetery Street; or behind the Bryan Center adjacent to the skate park.

Council began considering the possibility of a Verizon tower site downtown last fall, when Verizon representatives presented the company’s interest in building a site downtown to improve Verizon service. At the Feb. 17 meeting, Cundiff stated that if the Village doesn’t work with Verizon in finding a site of Village-owned property, the company will instead locate on private property, and the Village will lose both control over the design and the rental income, which is about $15,000 over the next five years.

Cundiff will return to Council at the next meeting with a Photoshop rendering of the four possible sites, so that Council can more clearly understand the tower’s impact.

• Cundiff reported back to Council on the previous Council’s commitment regarding how the property tax levy revenues would be spent. Council had requested the information before making budget decisions for 2009, which will take place in March.

While he didn’t find any policy statement of the property tax revenue breakdown, he found a brochure that had been sent to villagers, promising that 51 percent of the $750,000 property tax annual income would be spent on human services, and 49 percent would be spent on roads.

“I’m not sure we’ve hit any of these percentages previously,” Cundiff said.

However, the property tax revenues all go into the general fund and “then gets mixed up with everything else,” so calculating the revenues’ exact use is difficult, he said.

Council members will further discuss the property tax levy commitments and use of funds before making budget decisions, Council President Judith Hempfling stated this week.

• Cundiff reported back to Council on reserve fund practices of other area municipalities. At the Feb. 3 budget workshop, Council members asked Cundiff to research the topic after Village Finance Director Sharon Potter said that the current Village practice of holding at least 25 percent of the general fund budget as a reserve is not an official Village policy. At that meeting, Cundiff had stated that if the Village allocated more than $50,000 to the greenbelt fund, it would bring the general fund’s reserve balance below 25 percent.

Reserve fund balances in other communities range from 10 percent of the general fund balance to 50 percent, according to Cundiff. Potter will return to Council with specific figures on what those percentages would mean for the Village.

• Council approved a resolution that allows Cundiff to file an application for a state grant to be used for rehabbing the Trailside Museum in Glen Helen. According to Glen Director Nick Boutis, the rehabbing would “improve our ability to serve the public at Trailside,” including serving disabled people.

• Council unanimously approved the appointment of Patti Dallas to the Human Relations Commission.

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