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Village Council— TLT seeks preservation funds

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At their June 18 meeting, Village Council members heard an appeal from Tecumseh Land Trust, or TLT, asking that Village government help preserve Glen Helen.

“In terms of our overall priorities, this is number one,” said Krista Magaw, TLT’s executive director.

Specifically, Magaw requested that Council consider using about $100,000 from the Village Greenspace Fund to match monies from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to protect about 100 to 140 acres of the Glen, including the Riding Centre and School Forest. The topic was discussion only, and Magaw said she was giving Council a heads-up before bringing a more formal request in the future.

Village Manager Laura Curliss expressed support for the TLT request.

“Conceptually this is right on target with local priorities,” she said. “It would be extremely good use of these funds.”

In a presentation to Council, Magaw gave an overview of the Glen’s preservation history. When Hugh Taylor Birch gifted Antioch College with 500 acres of the natural area, he included language in the deed that the land would remain a natural area. Later, architects of the Country Commons used conservation language in an additional attempt to protect the Glen, Magaw said. However, “both Birch’s deed restrictions and the Country Common commitments would be very difficult to enforce today,” Magaw wrote to Council. So for the past six years, TLT, Antioch College and Antioch University have been meeting in an effort to find ways to permanently protect the Glen.

An appraisal on the Glen’s easement value will be conducted soon, Magaw said, stating that until the appraisal is complete, it’s not clear how much money is needed. The land trust organization’s “best guess” at this point is that the total amount may be about $2.4 million, of which the Ohio EPA has already committed $1.2 million, she said. TLT is currently seeking additional funding sources.

Currently, the Village Greenspace Fund has a balance of about $145,000, so that a Village contribution of $100,000 for Glen conservation would significantly reduce monies available for the preservation of other properties. However, according to Magaw, “We’re in a good position now,” regarding preservation efforts of the Jacoby Green Belt, which has been a priority for local conservation efforts, because development pressure for that area has diminished somewhat. TLT in 2011 had “a really good year,” Magaw said, successfully preserving 17 properties, including eight in Miami Township.

Council asked Curliss to bring the request back to Council when the amount needed from the Village is more clearly identified.

In other Council business:

• Council unanimously passed a resolution that enters into an employment agreement with Curliss as the Village Manager. According to the agreement, Curliss will be paid an annual salary of $89,432, and will receive the same benefits as other Village employees. The document stipulates that Curliss will receive 110 hours of vacation for the remainder of 2012 and 160 hours per calendar year thereafter.

• Council unanimously passed the second reading of an ordinance that permits Antioch College to generate up to 50 kilowatts of wind or solar power. The ordinance allows the college to install solar panels on top of newly renovated North Hall.

• Council unanimously awarded a contract for electric utility line clearing and tree trimming to Arbor Care.

• Council approved the first readings of ordinances regarding the use of Village water and sewer services for customers who are located outside the Village. The ordinances renew the intention of charging out-of-town customers a 50 percent surcharge, which was passed in 2010 legislation but never implemented. While customers will be forgiven the amount that was not previously collected, the Village from now on intends to collect the surcharge, according to a memo from Curliss.

• Council unanimously passed legislation establishing Sunday, June 24, as WYSO Day in Yellow Springs. On that day, the radio station held an open house in its new South College Street location, and also upped its power to 50,000 watts.

“We’re very proud of the new facility and think it will serve Yellow Springs for many years to come,” WYSO General Manager Neenah Ellis said to Council.

The station moved into its new quarters following a two-year effort by Village leaders to keep Antioch University in town, according to Karen Wintrow. That effort involved the Village providing a new location for AU offices in the former Antioch Publishing building, which was renovated with Village funds into a usable space for the local business e-Health Date Solutions, which was seeking a larger space, along with the AU offices.

“This was an incredible economic development success for the Village,” Wintrow said, stating that without the effort, “We could have lost both.”

• Council heard from Lawson Place residents Daniel Pearson and Patricia High regarding the stated intent of Greene Met Housing to remove some residents’ gardens. High and Pearson requested that a Council representative attend a Greene Met board meeting with them the following day, and Lori Askeland agreed to accompany the Lawson Place group, which was also presenting Greene Met with a petition opposing the proposed action signed by 226 people.

• Dimi Reber requested that Council members attend an upcoming informational forum, scheduled for June 30 at Antioch Midwest, about the effects of fracking and ways to protect local land from the practice.

• Villager Karen Wygal, who recently moved to town, made a series of statements to Council regarding her distress at what she perceives as the decline of local infrastructure since she grew up in Yellow Springs.

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