City decides on Aquatic Center ballot language change
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:00 PM
BY ED GEBERT
The above proposed plan for an aquatic center in the City of Van Wert was part of a discussion about the facility Monday night at Van Wert City Council chambers. The facility plans have not been finalized, but the final decision on the construction of the facility will likely be made by city voters in the spring. (Courtesy of Brandstetter Carroll Inc.)
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - An argument over ballot language for the levy which would fund construction of a new aquatic center in Van Wert has caused a change to be made. Van Wert Mayor Don Farmer said on Tuesday afternoon that due to objections to the possibility that additional funds collected for the center could go to other city parks projects, that part of the ballot language has been stricken. That change met with the approval of city officials as well as the private group who have organized the drive to seek voter approval for the construction of the proposed center."The group does not want to do anything to jeopardize an affirmative vote," Farmer stated. "We don't want anything out there that gives anyone a reason to not vote."
The private group has already assembled private donations of $1.2 million which will go into a fund that will continue to generate revenue for upkeep and expenses at the center. It was the lack of funding for upkeep which doomed the old county swimming pool.
The ballot issue which will appear before city voters in May will not allow any additional funds raised through the 1.2 Mil levy to go toward any project but the aquatic center itself. Farmer pointed out that there was little chance of extra revenue from the levy in the first place.
"The chances of it having any real excess are thin, but there could be," he stated.
Figuring that fighting over such a small possibility was not worth it, Farmer said that the main question was whether the city wanted to be taxed for the aquatic center's construction.
"We want the public to know that what they are voting on is strictly for construction and equipping of an aquatic center, period," emphasized Farmer.
That argument had closed the Monday evening session of Van Wert City Council. In other discussions at the meeting, Councilman Stan Agler proposed a meeting to discuss the possible chance of council members two-year terms becoming four-year terms, an idea brought to light by fellow councilman, Jeff Agler. If such a meeting is scheduled, other topics like ward boundaries and representation would also be examined.
Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Stuart Jewett reported a lot happening with local parks. Jubilee Park should be up and running for the upcoming baseball season, while lights in Fountain Park are currently being updated for the upcoming Concert in the Park season. A meeting has also been scheduled to discuss the upcoming construction of the concession stand and restroom facility at Smiley Park. Safety and Service Director Jay Fleming reported that things are wrapping up for the Smiley Park building replacement, and a committee meeting will be required to begin the bidding process for the construction. Fleming also reported that the city has applied for a $36,000 grant has been applied to FEMA to reimburse funds spent on cleanup and replacement after the June 29 wind storm.
The Health, Service, and Safety Committee met to try to wrap up the nuisance and abatement issue. A potential ordinance was given to each council member to review. It was established that a building board of appeals is already in place and includes five members appointed by the mayor.
"This is not designed to be a catch-all remedy but will give the city more options," said Farmer who noted he would like to see a daily fine placed on those who do not comply with regulations. He also believes the $300 cap currently in place on fines should be removed to urge property owners to continue the upkeep of their building and not allow it to reach a point of becoming unrepairable. According to Farmer, the city does not want to be held responsible for taking care of a neglected property and would like to be able to take a person to court for the offense, but even then it would be after the city has already paid for the repairs needed. Council members stated they would like to see something done sooner and to give the ordinance more teeth in order to make a positive action.