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All posts for the month April, 2016

Bad dog owner

Published April 17, 2016 by justicewg

bad dog ownerThere were some comments this spring on the city blog and other social media about dogs in the city parks, and a long April 5 TVN story covered the issues caused by owners who ignore the ban on dogs in most Grandview parks. Mayor DeGraw was quoted saying “Pierce Field is a zero-tolerance park (for dogs) to me because it is the park most used by the youngest members of the community”. There was some discussion of new signage and possibly stiffer fines, but the discussion has not resulted in changes yet.

On a recent nice day at Pierce Field I encountered a dozen or so kids, a few parents sitting under the shelter or playing on the equipment with their kids. And one guy that appeared to be in his early twenties, with no kids and two dogs on the leash. I couldn’t see anything in his hands or pockets that looked like bags for cleaning up after the dogs.

I decided to ask him just why he was there, and what he knew about the rules for dogs at the parks.

I didn’t know

Some dog owners have a sense of entitlement, and don’t react well to being told the rules. I tried to keep it light – asked him how he was doing, etc. When I asked him if he knew that dogs are banned from the park, he expressed what seemed like genuine surprise. I told him that dogs in the parks are a hot issue right now, and that he would probably have an encounter with the cops if he continued to bring his dogs to the park.

The young man argued that he had seen lots of dogs at the park in the past, and that if the rules had changed, it must have been recently. I couldn’t say when the dog ban started, but I knew it was years ago. He also said that he had never seen signs banning dogs, and although there are a number of them, the “no dogs” is at the bottom of a lot of other text. Maybe we need some big signs with the circle-backslash symbol over the dog icon.

This TVN story from 2012 says that dogs were banned from Pierce Field, Wyman Woods, McKinley Field and Buck Park. So dogs have not been allowed since at least that year. The old story contained almost the same elements as this year’s article – exasperation with dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs, calls for better enforcement, and a side comment about a dog park that never gets built.

Let’s tell the dog owners to stay out

I would guess my discussion with the young man will have no long term results. I’m just one cranky old man, and I spend very little time in the parks.

Most of the stories I read in social media about dogs in the parks express some level of anger about the irresponsible owners, but I have not read “I asked the owner to follow the rules and keep the dog out of the park”. Passive aggressive seems to be common.

How about if we all try a little non-passive education for these dog owners? Walk up, tell them the rules. You are not being a Goody Two-shoes, you are protecting the kids from potential dog bites.

Helen Lovejoy – “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”

I’m not suggesting that will be the only solution – obviously the city can do more, starting with better signage.

(Later) Dogs in parks were discussed at the June 6, 2016 city council meeting. The are supposed to put better signs up (and let dogs have use of the paths in Buck park and Wyman Woods).

Mayor has new plans for Wallace Gardens, Grandview Crossing

Published April 12, 2016 by justicewg

A suggestion for anyone in the city or school administration – don’t schedule public meetings to answer questions from the residents at 6 PM. People are eating, and they don’t want to show up late, so you end up with one person attending your meeting (the same thing happened years ago when O’Reilly tried a 6 PM public meeting). Hopefully there will be a few more people at the Wyman Woods shelter on April 13th at 8:30 AM for the next public meeting.

Grandview Crossing may have plans by this summer

The Wagenbrenner owned Grandview Crossing development was promoted as a long term project that could have taken until 2025 to finish the fill with dirt and compaction (to cover the landfill that was under this area). According to the Mayor the work has gone much faster than expected, and Wagenbrenner may have plans ready to present before the city council this summer.

Nothing new in the plans for Grandview Crossing so far – mostly retail, some office, no residential. No new announcements since last summer when they said they had plans for “junior big-box” stores, similar to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Remember, most of the area is inside Columbus, so although Grandview gets to approve its part, we have no way to say what will be inside Grandview – if they want big parking lots on our side of the development, we lose potential tax income. A few years ago that would have been a big deal, after all the development going into the Yard, the G.C. seems almost unimportant. Traffic remains a potential big issue.

Wallace Gardens improvements

The Mayor had some renderings of new plans for Wallace Gardens, the area between Grandview Ave. and the plots will have new landscaping and a large Gazebo type building with room for picnic tables. The area behind the gardens (between the tracks and the houses) has potential to become play area for kids, essentially extending the McKinley park back into the area that is now woods. I got the impression that a lot of this depends on an anonymous benefactor who may be funding a lot of the potential million dollar improvements, but no money has changed hands yet * (read below).

(Later) The benefactor has been announced in plans presented before the council, it is the The Mirolo Charitable Foundation.

(Even Later) The city council put the Wallace Garden project on the shelf, and might lose the grant.

City Employees are not expanding

As the new Yard development gets under way, I was expecting the city to start hiring police, fire, and service employees to deal with the additions to the city. According to DeGraw there is no big need for many new people. Nationwide already had its own security patrolling the area around the construction, when the campus is complete there will be more private security, and the city will have minimal need for new employees. The campus will do its own service work – a few more streets need plowed in the winter.

The Mayor thought the expectations for new city services – more recreation buildings, etc., would be increasing in the future as the money from the Yard starts to build up. More than anything, the composition of the city residents is changing – more high income professionals – who see those sort of city services as expectations to be provided by any city that has the high reputation of Grandview.

Storm water diversion plans

Last summer’s flooding caused a lot of water in basements, and although it has been years since that sort of flooding has happened, the service work that the city has in the planning stage may help somewhat.

Interesting to learn that there is a major waste water line that travels from the area north (U.A. and 5xNW), then burrows under Grandview. Some of the water that back-flows after long heavy rain is coming from outside the city. There are plans for a Fifth ave diversion project that will take some of that water and turn it east to the river. All this has to happen in Columbus, so it isn’t our planning, but we can cross our fingers and hope for an end of the water in the basements.

Don’t mess with the trees

The Mayor heard you loud and clear on the trees cut down for the First and NW Boulevard work. New trees are in the plans for other areas of the city.

Can’t give money away without trouble

I was told that there is quite a story behind the donation of money for the Wallace Gardens improvements. Someone wanted to give Upper Arlington a donation for the parks, and it kicked off an epic battle between various factions over the correct use of the money and the  plans for construction. At some point the person making the donation said “Enough! I’ll just go somewhere else to make my donation”. And so Grandview got offered the money.

My suggestion – let’s start an epic battle here in Grandview! Are we going to let U.A. beat us in the race to tick off people looking to donate money?

(Later) Huh. Is it possible the UA fight over park spending, which resulted in a recall election for four council members, was the factor that pushed the Grandview council to spike the Wallace Gardens project?

City employees doing two jobs

Another point the Mayor made has stuck with me – so many of the city employees are wearing two hats, as a result of long ago cuts in funding. The fire chief is also the computer systems tech guy and website updater. Patrik Bowman is both Director of Administration and head of Economic Development. There is no H.R. department at the city, the Mayor mostly does that. It is possible we will find people who can do two jobs when those people retire, but it is not likely they can do both of them well. At some point the city will need specialists who do one job, and hire more administration staff.