Mayor

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Councilman is opposed to appeal of Green Space ordinance

Published August 27, 2018 by justicewg

UPDATE!  Secretary Husted broke the Board of Elections’ tie vote in favor of putting the Proposed Ordinance on the November 2018 ballot. If you want to read a post that practically has the winning lawyer doing a victory dance in front of the city administration, read the post on the Join Grandview website.

What happens next is up to the city, but they really need to understand that the time for legal fighting is over. They can organize opposition to the vote, but can’t spend any city money.

 

I try to stay neutral in political issues in Grandview, unless it appears there is a clear reason to side with some position in a local dispute. I’ve looked at all the arguments over the Green Space initiative, and I have to agree with them at least on the process – they have done everything by the book. They should have their ordinance on the ballot. Read the reasoning for allowing the voters to decide the issue in this post on their website

https://joingrandview.com/2018/08/22/the-trouble-with-the-citys-protest-of-the-proposed-ordinance/

I emailed the Mayor and all of the council members with my opinion on the Green Space ordinance appeal, and at this point have one response, from Steve Reynolds. My email is after the jump, first the email from Reynolds.

Thanks for your feedback.  I can’t express an opinion as to the initiative itself.  I also cannot speak for my fellow Councilmembers; however, I can say I am disappointed that tax dollars are being spent to “protect” residents from voting on the matter.  The legal maneuvering is not an action that has been voted on by Council.  It is being brought forth by the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the other attorneys who were hired to wage this battle. – SReynolds@grandviewheights.org

I’m a little unclear on Reynold’s claim that he can’t express an opinion on the initiative, Ohio law says the city should not be spending money to oppose the ordinance, but they still have the right to express their opinion. I guess if you count using the city email system to answer questions as spending money, that makes sense, but in a technical and not practical way.

His opposition to the Mayor spending city money on further appeals is the correct function for a council member, the Mayor holds administrative control of city funds, but the council is the final arbiter over the use of those public funds. I think if the city council had a majority belief that the city should stop spending money on appeals, and voted to direct the Mayor to let the vote be held in November, the Mayor will have to stop all court actions.

Let all the council members, and the Mayor, know what you think about the Green Space Ordinance.

Council@grandviewheights.org, rdegraw@grandviewheights.org

(Update) Council president Kearns is backing the Mayor.

What is so bad about the Elmwood house?

The reason that the Green Space initiative was inspired was because the locals wanted to keep the area looking the same as it has for many years. As I understand the dispute, it wasn’t so much that the Elmwood property was split, but that the house the owner wanted to build was so out of place in the area. An important aid in making that decision was the renderings of the plans for the house (or would have been if they were presented to the BZA).

Those renderings are now up on the Join Grandview website. Check them out and make your own judgement on the proposed home.

Read the rest of this entry →

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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.

Mayor DeGraw on the Grandview flooding

Published June 25, 2015 by justicewg
Flooded Basement

Flooded Basement

DeGraw posted another Letter to the Community on the city website, in which he talked about the flooding that overwhelmed the system and flooded basements last Saturday.

He said that only 20 residents called the city to report flooding. I’m guessing that that is way smaller than the number of houses that flooded, it isn’t on my list of things to do while my basement is slowly filling with water. I wish he would have asked residents to call a number or visit a website to report the flooding, so the city would have a better list of properties where flooding is occurring.

The Mayor said the city ranked the event as a “once in twenty years” downpour. There is a limit to the volume a sanitary system can handle, and sizing it to cope with freak events would be a waste of money. Still, there seems to be choke points in the flow of water that can cause one home to have 6 inches of water come up the drain, while another house a block away has none. I don’t know the complexities of hydraulic design for this system, but it seems like a little over building at key points might save homeowners a lot of time cleaning flood damage.

The city will be doing bulk pickup of large items for free during the next two trash days.

City Blog is still worth bookmarking

Published April 8, 2015 by justicewg
Jewell Odell, accused of stealing jewelry on First Ave.

Jewel Odell, accused of stealing jewelry on First Ave.

I first wrote about the City Blog last year, in August it had been in operation for a month. Although the focus of the blog was intended to be city council and administration information, and it has continued with the excellent monthly Community Letter from Mayor Ray DeGraw, the blog has wider focus now.

Very often the city police department has the most frequent posts, informing us about crimes that have occurred, suspects being sought, and nearly live information about street closures at crime scenes.

In December there was a barricade situation near W. Third Ave. and Cambridge Blvd. The city police posted info about the standoff within a couple of hours.

There was a theft suspect arrested Monday who had been accused of taking jewelry from a First Ave. home. In a odd coincidence, the name of the woman was Jewel Odell. You have to wonder, what sort of forces lead a woman named Jewel into becoming an (accused) jewel thief. Did her name lead to a lifelong unhealthy fascination with jewels?

If we searched police records, would we find that people with names similar to things that are stolen have a propensity to steal those items? There are thousands of people with the first name “Cash”, do they become money obsessed? Do people named “Ford” tend to become car thieves who specialize in that brand?

Wifi in the parks

I didn’t give this post from last year the attention it deserves. The Grandview Heights Public Library is offering free WiFi at Grandview parks, according to a post in the city blog. All of the city parks and the city pool (with Buck park soon) are covered with a free wifi signal. Now parents who are watching their kids play baseball at the parks can spend more time looking down at their iphones and watching funny videos of kids making bloopers on the baseball diamonds on YouTube.

Late April community letter from Mayor

I just finished telling everyone how good the community letter from Mayor DeGraw is to read on the city website, and he has to show up with a April letter posted on May 19th. Maybe he needs to call it “Words from the Past” (the date on the post has been changed and it now says it is the May letter, not sure what is going on but I assume it was mislabeled before).

The new soldier memorial will be dedicated at the Memorial Service at Memorial Park on Northwest Boulevard on Thursday May 21st at 7:30 p.m. The Memorial Day Parade steps off at 10:00 a.m. May 23, 2015 and moves down First Ave. to Pierce Field .

DeGraw talks about a new pool

Published September 25, 2014 by justicewg

degrawlogoMayor DeGraw has put up another good post on the Grandview Heights blog. Once again, I’m impressed by the way the city works to communicate with the people of this city. Conversely, I’m ashamed of the poor skills of the board and school superintendent. It has been more than two months and Culp has done nothing more than put up an introduction post on the school website. If he follows O’Reilly, that will be the full extent of his website communication for a year.

Since this is what bloggers do, I’ll give the tl;dr version of DeGraw’s post.

Trick or Treat night will be moved from October 31 to October 30 this year.

Ohio Public Works Commission funding application for the work on First Avenue and Northwest Boulevard has been done. Trees were saved. (again, I’m impressed by the way the city responded to complaints and had a number of meetings. The school board would never do this.)

The dedication of the Wyman Woods shelter house and a park opening will be held October 25 after the Pumpkin Run. (here is where we are seeing the tax money from the Yard in use).

A crane with a large weight will begin compressing the soil that is being brought in to fill a portion of the 40 acres of land at the northeast corner of Grandview Ave. and Route 33. Loud pounding will be heard, for however long that takes.

The Yard – the new parking garage by Goodale is nearing completion and the Hofbrauhaus is scheduled to open October 21.

With the additional bed tax coming into the city from the second hotel going into the Grandview Yard, the Parks Board has been asked to look at improving the pool. Over the next few months they will be looking at upgrading or replacing the pool and facilities around the pool.

End of summary.

This is the start of the party – with new tax money coming in from the Yard, the city now has the funds to do projects that have been on hold for years. The stories about the decrepit old equipment that has been patched and re-patched at the pool have been discussed for years. The people who are sick of the patching are talking about a complete removal of the old pool and building it all new. The people who like the old style architecture of the building (what little exists) are asking the city to do historic preservation.

Projects like this – and others that are not so much upgrades as they are complete additions to the city infrastructure – will be hot topics for the next few years. Expect the return of the “We need a huge new city building and Fire house!”, and “let’s build a recreation complex with pool and tracks and gyms and stuff!”. The people who point out that no city the size of Grandview has these kind of facilities will be pushed aside by the “we have money, let’s spend it!” crowd.

(Nov.) That didn’t take long, the city is again talking about constructing a new firehouse and municipal building. No doubt, the city building is old and needs replaced, the question is what will be built, new facilities that match the needs, or oversized, expensive buildings that are more about keeping up with U.A.?