Council considers safety at Ellis Pond
- Published: May 8, 2014
Should Village government spend substantial funds to build two new bridges at Ellis Pond, in light of a serious accident that occurred at the pond last year? Council members considered this question at their April 21 meeting during discussion of the Village capital projects budget, which ended up including an allocation of $25,000 in the parks budget earmarked for some solution at Ellis Park.
But that amount is only the beginning, as the bridges — one over a spillway where a villager fell and sustained brain injuries last summer and one linking the pond to the arboretum — are estimated at $70,000 each, or $140,000 altogether. While Council had considered moving ahead with the bridges during earlier discussions, the cost, given this year’s Village deficit spending, gave Council members pause and they postponed funding the project until next year. However, at the April 21 meeting, after having visited the park and talking to villagers, Marianne MacQueen suggested putting $25,000 into the budget as a step toward addressing the Ellis Park need.
“Now I think it’s important to have some kind of bridge system at Ellis Park and important that villagers can walk around the park,” she said, noting that given Antioch College’s intention to use its former “golf course” as a farm, “It behooves the Village to look at the green space we own and make it useable.”
Council members unanimously approved the capital projects budget, including $25,000 for Ellis Pond.
Former villager Adrienne Chesire urged Council to fund the bridges. Also attending was Chesire’s father, Jimmy, who fell last summer trying to cross the Ellis Park spillway, sustaining critical injuries that required a month of hospitalization and a long recovery. While her father is recovering from his injury, others may not be so fortunate, Adrienne Chesire said.
But other Village park facilities, such as the skate park, also need safety upgrades and are more frequently used, Lori Askeland said, suggesting that perhaps the Ellis project could involve matching funds from the community.
“I want to protect villagers but also protect the Village financially,” Askeland said.
Along with approving the $25,000 seed money, Council requested that the Public Arts Commission work with the Village and community to create a design solution to the Ellis Park bridge issue.
Council unanimously approved a 2014 supplemental appropriations budget that added $2.5 million for capital projects to the already-approved 2014 Village operating budget. However, much of the cost for capital projects will come from existing cash surpluses in specific funds for streets, parks, the electric fund and the general fund.
In other Council business:
• Council approved a Planning Commission recommendation to rezone 888 Dayton St., the site of the former Creative Memories building, from I2 Industrial to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD. The PUD zoning allows more flexibility in use, according to Lori Askeland, and the building’s new owners hope to use part of the facility for medical offices and part for light manufacturing, a mixed use that isn’t allowed under the current zoning. Allowing the rezoning, “serves our current goal of developing the economy,” Interim Village Manager Kent Bristol said.
Dr. Donald Gronbeck will hold an open house at his office in the building on Sunday, May 4.
• During citizens concerns, a group of Fair Acres neighbors urged Council to move quickly to fix the streets in that area and also to meet with them. Bristol previously said that Village staff needs to talk with the neighbors about how to proceed with street repairs there, as water lines are old and too close to the surface, so that major street repairs need to be accompanied by expensive water line upgrades.
Something needs to be done soon, the neighbors said.
“The number of potholes in Fair Acres is incredible,” according to Dan Carrigan. “It’s not good for cars or for people. Everyone in our neighborhood has helped repair other streets in Yellow Springs. We expect equal treatment.”
The Village did include in its 2014 budget funds to make surface street repairs in Fair Acres, which will get rid of potholes, according to Bristol. A meeting with neighbors will take place later this year to consider further options, according to Bristol.
• Amy Magnus and Dawn Johnson of Springs-Net, a group of citizens interested in Village government providing municipal broadband, made a presentation on their request for Council support for a grant. The grant, from the Citizens Institute on Rural Development, or CIRD, would provide $7,000 to conduct a study to find the extent of local need for broadband.
Council members stated support for the effort, and will provide the letter.
• Brian Housh led a discussion on how best to address concerns regarding street musicians downtown. Recently, Council received a petition requesting that amplified music be banned downtown, due to noise concerns from storeowners. However, after researching how other towns address the issue, Housh suggested that the Village follow the model of cities such as Portland, Ore. and New Orleans, which ask musicians to self-regulate, agreeing to move their performance places hourly.
However, downtown musician Will Cook said he opposes any sort of regulation, and that “street performers are valuable to the flavor of this town.”
But something needs to change, according to downtown store owner Molly Lunde, who said that while she loves the downtown music, musicians sometimes stay in the same place for five or six hours, playing repetitive tunes, which can be stressful for those in stores.
• Villager Sue Abendroth asked Council to consider upgrading the lighting in the Bryan Center parking lot at night, stating that the low level of light can be dangerous, especially on nights when many villagers attend public meetings.
• Council member Gerry Simms stated that a proposed upgrade of Council chambers will cost about $18,000. The upgrade aims to improve the room’s acoustics, security and lighting, among other things.
• Council approved a request to locate a sculpture donation to the Yellow Springs schools, donated by Richard Lapedes and Maureen Lynch, on Village-owned land at the corner of Walnut and Short streets. Titled “Ohio,” the sculpture, which Lapedes and Lynch commissioned from a Texan sculptor, would be an extension of the sculpture trail the Village plans to install this summer with pieces created during last year’s Bronze Sculpture Symposium.
• Council’s next meeting is Monday, May 5, at 7 p.m. at Council chambers.