2007-10-27 / News

Gift won't be spend on police cruiser yet

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE- A $10,000 gift to the Village of Buckeye Lake won't go toward a new police cruiser unless a budget cut can be made somewhere else, said Mayor Frank Foster during Monday night's council meeting.

Buckeye Lake officerswanted to use part of the $10,000 gift--given to the village by the developer of The Landings and Residences at Maple Bay, which are adjacent subdivisions slated for the 118 acre Bounds Farm - toward a new cruiser. While Foster agreed the police could use a new cruiser, he said the village can't afford it now, even with the gift.

Council members Jim Bartoe and Donna Thompson both commented Monday night the department is in "dire need" of a new cruiser. "It seems to me the police department needs to beg for everything," said Thompson. Bartoe said the department located a used Ford Crown Victoria (a model commonly adapted to police cruisers) for $6,495.

"You could buy it tomorrow," said Foster, "but come next year, I'd have to suggest some cuts." He said the department has four cruisers. If one dies, it will need to be parked behind the station and basically used for parts. He said the general fund has an $80,000 budget which needs to last until March; it's barely enough to cover expenses without making a major purchase. "We're down to bare bones in the first place," said Foster, even with the $10,000 gift.

Council member Drew Bourne agreed. "I believe they need the vehicle," he said. But, when the department's trying to meet a $15,000 per month payroll, "we just haven't got the money."

In other council news:

• Village council candidate Saundra "Kay" Allen withdrew her name from the November ballot, said a representative of the Licking County Board of Elections. Allen's name will appear on the ballot, but the Board of Elections confirmed she is not running.

• Baltimore Christ United Methodist Church Pastor Mike Donnally told council Monday night that more than 400 volunteers are coming to Baltimore and the Buckeye Lake Area this summer to improve the conditions of homes for local residents. Although the project is to be based in Baltimore, Buckeye Lake Village residents can apply for free home repair at the Buckeye Lake Village Offices.

According to a statement from the church, elderly, handicapped, and lower-income residents may receive free home repairs. Renters may also qualify. The Buckeye State Workcamp, coming June 25 through July 5, 2008, will provide free home repairs through the Group Workcamps Foundation program sponsored locally by Christ United Methodist and the Baltimore Area Workcamp Committee.

The Group Workcamps Foundation is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian volunteer home-repair organization headquartered in Loveland, Colorado. This summer, an anticipated 30,000 young people and adults are participating in 64 workcamps in communities across the United States and Canada. At each workcamp, teenagers and adults volunteer a week of their time to repair homes throughout the community, representing about 12,000 hours of volunteer labor worth at least $80,000 to the community, said Donnally.

The workcamp will be housed at Liberty-Union High School, with workcampers sleeping on classroom floors, eating in the cafeteria, and enjoying evening programs in the gym.

Repairs offered though the workcamp include interior and exterior painting, weatherization, porch and wheelchair ramp construction, and other work.

Council member Shelly Swick added that the Buckeye Lake LEADS program is offering free home winterization to those who qualify. Applications for the LEADS program are also at the village office.

• Council member Jeryne Peterson isn't impressed with the new sidewalk/walking trail being constructed along SR 79, south of downtown. "They're doing a shoddy job," she said, referring to contractor Neff Construction. Peterson said the asphalt is "wavy," and the sidewalk more resembles a bike path then a traditional sidewalk.

Foster said he thought a walking path is safer than a sidewalk because it's farther away from the street than a traditional sidewalk.

A Community Block Development Grant, administered by Licking County, is paying for the walkway; its first phase stretches from SR 360 south to the Buckeye Lake Estates. Neff Construction should be finished in a week. Eventually, said Buckeye Lake Director of Development Valerie Hans previously, a walkway will line all of the village's major roadways.

Licking County Community Development Manager Warren Weber said Buckeye Lake Village's new sidewalks will be developed in fiveor six phases over fiveor six years, possibly less. He expects the village will receive more than $89,000 of grant money toward new sidewalks next year. Progress on the current phase was delayed when construction workers found buried natural gas valves in places they didn't expect, said Weber, but the construction process is now moving ahead smoothly.

Some residents along Ohio 79 were concerned that the sidewalk may lower the property values of the homes it passes. Jim Van Ostran, owner of Jobes Henderson & Associates--the company that's engineering the sidewalk project--said that while he's not a real estate appraiser, he cannot remember of any instance where the installation of a sidewalk fronting a lot, where no sidewalk previously existed, ever lowered a property value.

"It's been my experience that any improvements or additions like sidewalks, curb and gutter, or anything of that nature has added to the value of the homes," he said.

• Thompson said she collected enough money for 80 strands of white lights for the village's holiday display, which she said should be enough. Thompson said Tom Siefert, owner of Buckeye Lake Hardware, was particularly generous.

• The village placed signs at either end of the Hebron Road boulevard, proclaiming it as "Charles Slater Boulevard" in honor of the village's late first mayor. Council will hold a dedication ceremony Saturday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m.

• Council is holding a special meeting to discuss the current status of its quest for a public water system, including Millersport's offers and any other new information regarding public water Friday, Oct. 26, 3 p.m. in the Village Hall. Foster said it's a public meeting for council members to discuss the situation, but it will not be a lengthy public forum.

• Foster said the village recently closed on 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. The village paid about $26,000 for the parcel, which will likely be used for additional parking space.

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