Absences cost council member his post
BUCKEYE LAKE- Eight strikes and he's out. Per the terms of the Buckeye Lake Village Charter, former council member John Cortez is no longer serving on council because Monday night was his eighth absence from a council meeting this year; the charter only allows each council member seven absences per year.
Cortez served on council for about eight years. Mayor Frank Foster said Cortez didn't submit a letter of resignation. Council member Hilde Hildebrandt was named council pro temp (second in command behind the president of council) in Cortez' place. The village is accepting resumes from potential candidates who would like to fulfillthe two year balance of Cortez' term. Resumes will be accepted until Friday, August 24. Anyone interested in applying for the council vacancy should visit or contact the Buckeye Lake Village Office.
In other council business:
• The majority of council approved the purchase of a 119 feet by 320 feet parcel of land next to the Buckeye Lake Fire Station from Maribel Neel, who owns much of the land west of the station. All council members agreed the firedepartment is sorely in need of the property, which will be used for parking space, but there was disagreement over the $26,000 asking price. Hildebrandt abstained from vote, council member Shelly Schwarz voted against the purchase, saying the village was "bullied" into paying a price that she believes is too high, and rest of council voted in favor of the purchase.
Foster said he agrees the price is high, but the need for the property is too great to turn it down.
"My fear is the timing," said council member Jeryne Peterson. A firelevy is coming in November, and she's concerned that voters will assume the levy's unnecessary since the department can afford the property. "It's needed for the growth that's coming to the village," she said, but, "I don't want to give people the wrong impression."
Fire Chief Pete Leindecker said the department can afford the property because "we've saved our money and we've spent our money well." The land is desperately needed and the department can afford it, he said.
Foster explained after the meeting that the money for the property will come from fire department levy funds. "We have tried to maintain a significantbalance in order to respond to emergency repairs to safety equipment," he said. "This purchase will reduce that balance below what we would like it to be, but we feel it will not jeopardize the residents' safety."
Council President Charlene Hayden said Monday night that the village has exhausted every effort to bring the price down. She said she understands why Neel is steadfast on the price. Hayden agreed the timing of the purchase is bad, but also agreed the property is needed.
Council member Drew Bourne said the firedepartment building acts as a gathering place for the village. "The parking is not sufficient," he said.
Foster said the majority of people who socialize at the station are members of the department and it's good to have them there in case there's an emergency call. "I'd encourage more people to go there" and volunteer for the department, he said.
Fire department member Arletta Ruton said most of the members have day jobs and much of the department's administrative work is completed in the evening. The volunteers will take breaks in front of the station. "We give up a lot of time for this community," she said.
• Foster said an updated bridge design for Hunt's Landing Road is nearly complete. The bridge is intended to span a feeder canal for a new subdivision called the Landings at Maple Bay - a 78- unit condominium development located on the southwest side of Hunts Landing Road in the Village of Buckeye Lake. It includes a man-made canal, a marina with boat slips, a boat storage area, and a clubhouse with a pool. Some residents said the original design of the bridge was too steep. "There's been significantimprovement to the grades," he said. He said he'll approve the design if the project engineer approves as well. He expects the plans - which are available for public viewing at the Village Office - will be approved by next week and construction will begin soon.
Foster explained after the meeting that the bridge design is an administrative approval which is not subject to Buckeye Lake Planning Commission approval. He intends to approve the revised design following the engineer's approval and and barring any concerns from council or anyone who introduces significantissues with the bridge. Foster said there was a meeting to discuss the design Aug. 6 with the developer, engineers, and a representative from Cranberry Pointe. All are aware that the revised design is available for public view, he said.
• Hildebrandt said that after speaking with Buckeye Lake Police Captain James Hanzey, she no longer believes the village should sacrifice some of the existing police officespace for rental to a private business. Although the village could use the rental income, giving up the police department space "is not in the best interest of the village," she said.
• Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, Senator George Voinovich's officeand Representative Zack Space will meet with village representatives Friday, 2 p.m., at the Village Officefor a ceremony in anticipation of the Army Corp of Engineers releasing to the village nearly $300,000 to be used toward a public water system. Foster said the meeting is strictly ceremonial and the money will be forthcoming at a later date.
• Peterson said she thought there was a case of West Nile virus reported in the Village of Buckeye Lake, however the Licking County Health Department is not able to confirmit.
• Bartoe said he looked into the possiblity of Buckeye Lake police officers participating in programs sponsored by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., or CALEA, which help police departments become better organized and goal-oriented. While it's an excellent program, said Bartoe, it is prohibitively expensive for Buckeye Lake and would require the village to hire a full-time person just to administrate the CALEA paperwork. He said most local police departments reached the same conclusion.