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Village Council considers 2017 goals

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In 2016, the downtown streetscape project was finished. The Village property tax levy passed. The Justice System Task Force was created. The Village solar project moved forward. Construction began on the new water plant.

These are some of the action steps toward 2016 Village Council goals that were completed this year. At their Dec. 5 meeting, Council members reviewed a status update on this year’s Village Council goals with an eye toward identifying 2017 goals. Council will begin a discussion on next year’s goals at their first regular meeting in January, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 2. 

At Council’s Dec. 5 meeting, Council President Karen Wintrow encouraged villagers to weigh in on the discussion. Council’s current goals can be found online at, click on Find it Fast, then Village Documents, then Council packet for Dec. 5.

Most of next year’s goals will likely be a continuation of current goals, Wintrow said.

“I think we’re still on the same track,” she said.

Council’s 2016 goals, including ongoing activities required to reach them, are as follows:

• Build a new water plant and update and implement the Wellhead Protection Plan. While the construction of the new plant began in July, activities around creating an outreach and educational campaign for the adoption of the Wellhead Protection Plan are ongoing, according to the document.

Develop a strategy for fiscal sustainability. Passage of the property tax levy was a key component of this goal. Ongoing activities include considering revenue options, developing a capital plan for all village streets and determining the best uses for publicly owned property.

Decide strategy for sidewalk repairs and new construction. The Village completed the downtown streetscape project; Council is having ongoing discussions on how best to address Village sidewalks, including funding options.

Create a sustainable economic development strategy to support existing businesses and entrepreneurs and attract new opportunities that support the values of the community. All of the activities required to reach this goal are ongoing, including updating or developing tools such as the Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, incentive policy, property inventory and web presence; and developing a plan to address business expansion needs. The Economic Sustainability Commission is a major player in this goal.

Work with community organizations, commissions and staff to develop a plan to reduce energy use and increase environmental sustainability. The Village solar project on the Glass Farm moved forward at Monday’s meeting with approval of a contract with a firm to start developing the project. Ongoing activity is the creation of a Climate Action Plan.

Explore development of a municipally-owned fiber optic network that will support all Yellow Springs citizens and encourage economic development. The Village completed the action step of meeting with SpringsNet. Currently, the action step of determining the feasibility of the project is ongoing. (See article on page 1.)

Review and update the Village criminal justice system. The action step of creating the Village Justice System Task Force, which began meeting in September, has been completed. 

Develop a master plan for the Glass Farm, including mixed-income housing, a solar array and a wetland area. According to the document, no significant work on this goal took place this year. Actions steps will include completing housing and infrastructure needs assessment, identifying potential development opportunities and developing a robust public process to engage all constituents in master planning.

In other items of Council’s Dec. 5 meeting:

• Villager Michelle Dean urged Council to remind citizens of roadway safety for walkers and bikers now that winter’s darkness is here. Dean said that on a recent evening she twice almost hit walkers and bikers wearing dark clothing after dark, so that they couldn’t easily be seen.

“I see children and adults who are not clearly visible who are walking on the wrong side of the road,” she said. When she posted her concern on Facebook, many people with similar concerns responded, she said. 

According to Wintrow, the Village is involving the Active Transportation committee to help educate villagers on safety rules for biking and walking.

“It’s something we’re working on,” she said.

• Villager Chris Zurbuchen urged Council to relocate a small parking lot planned for the northeast corner of the wetlands area of Glass Farm, which neighbors her home. Parking should be located instead on Robinwood and Ridgecrest drives for several reasons, she said, including preserving more green space, easy maintenance and security. In response to a question regarding why street parking would be more secure, Zurbuchen said that police can more easily protect those on streets rather than in a secluded wooded area.

According to Council member Marianne MacQueen, the small parking lot, which would hold about five cars and some bikes, was considered “benign” by advocates of the wetlands area, so that neighbors to the lot weren’t notified. Alternatives to the parking lot, which will be funded by a grant, have been considered, she said, but would involve tearing up trees and more expense. She suggested that Council consider other options for parking.

Council member Judith Hempfling suggested that the Village move ahead with its plan for the lot, in order to see if problems develop. Other Council members agreed to move ahead.

• Chrissy Cruz expressed concerns about the Village’s treatment of renters who are behind in their utility bills. In a new policy, the Village sends letters to landlords to alert them if their renters are behind in utility payments, a practice that she finds troubling. Council had been concerned that the Village might lose about $14,000 in unpaid bills, which is a similar sum to the amount the Village has considered collecting in excise tax on the new Mills Park Hotel, she said, noting that Council has dropped its intention of collecting the tax on the hotel.

“It’s an example of how lower class people aren’t supported but higher class people are,” she said.

However, Village Manager Patti Bates stated that Council had not dropped the excise tax possibility, but instead decided to wait until the hotel had been opened a year, which would be next April. At that point, Council will reconsider the excise tax option.

Hempfling stated that she is also uncomfortable with the policy of sending letters to landlords, and wants Council to look again at the policy.

• Council briefly revisited its discussion on sidewalks, which was a focus of Council’s last meeting. At that time, MacQueen and Gerry Simms recommended that the Village maintain the status quo regarding village sidewalks, that is, refrain from a costly upgrade of all sidewalks but repair the most broken ones. Manager Bates said she hopes to bring a brief on the topic that addresses concerns to a January meeting.

Villager Dan Carrigan expressed concerns that the  proposed “sharrows,” which are to be painted on streets to identify bike lanes, would be painted incorrectly. He also stated his disappointment that the new sidewalks south of Herman Street to Allen Street on Xenia Avenue were four feet wide rather than five feet, as needed to meet Americans with Disabilities, or ADA, requirements. 

Bates stated that she is being advised by Chris Bongorno and Eric Oberg of the Active Transportation committee to make sure the stencils used to paint the sharrows will be correct. 

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that allows Bates to enter into a contract with AEP Onsite Partners for the development of the Village solar project on 6.5 acres of the Glass Farm.

• Council approved the emergency reading of an ordinance that approves supplemental appropriations in the amount of $388,632 for the final quarter of 2016 in the Village budget.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring Sunday, Dec. 11, as Central Chapel A.M.E. Church Day, in honor of that church’s 150th anniversary.

Council cancelled its regular public meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, due to the holidays. However, Council will meet in two special meetings for executive sessions for the discussion of training of supervisory staff, and evaluation of the Clerk of Council.

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