BUCKEYE LAKE- Monday night’s Buckeye Lake Village Council meeting was the last of the year, and village officials know they face some difficult issues next year.
“I feel now that we are taking efforts to continue to clean our community up we should focus now on business growth for our community in 2015,” said council president Jeryne Peterson. “We have much to offer to business, location off the interstate and a beautiful lake with much history. (New residential development within the village) is a work in process but developers and individuals need to make sure they follow our guideline and no more sweetheart deals or handshakes. if it is not in writing and approved by planning and zoning or presented to council it is not happening. This has caused some difficult situations and needs to stop.”
Peterson said one of the most difficult things for any community to change is the “good ol’ boy” network. “The ‘he knows someone who knows someone’ must stop.”
Renewing two levies in 2014 was a huge positive for the community, Peterson said, adding that she thanks everyone who voted to express his or her opinion, whether for or against the levies. “This is a right we each have and should exercise that right,” she said. “Every four years we go through changes and a new mayor comes into office. This is always an adjustment for not only the public but for our staff. It is like getting a new boss every four years so you can imagine that change will occur. As president of council, I would like to truly thank all the staff, council and the mayor for all that they do to help make Buckeye Lake Village a great place to work and live.”
“I don’t know if I have any advice for village officials, but it seems the budget will be the biggest challenge (for next year),” said former council president Charlene Hayden, who continues to attend meetings after serving on council for 10 years until 2013. “At least, at this point, it appears council may have to make some decisions about staff changes or cutbacks which in turn will affect services available to the residents.”
Beside staff cutbacks, Hayden said there are a couple other ways to avert problems in the budget. “One is to ask our residents to pass an operating levy,” she said. “I know residents don’t want to pay more for services, but there comes a point where you have to weigh the consequences of what you have to give up if you don’t pass an operating levy. We are used to having our streets plowed and salted after each winter weather event. If there is no money, caring for the streets could be one of the things eliminated.”
Hayden said she knows Mayor Clay Carroll said during Monday night’s council meeting that he plans to start accepting his mayor’s salary in January, but he would then put $500 of his pay into the Street Department Fund. “That will certainly pay for some needed items, but it will not solve all the problems facing the Street Department,” she said.
“Another way to make your village funds go further is to secure grant money, which is mostly available through the federal and state government.” However, Hayden said most of the time, either match money or a loan is necessary in order to get the grant money. “If the village doesn’t have match money, they will not be able to apply for grants,” Hayden said. “Also, most applications for grant money require an established long-term plan before a request will be considered.”
In other village news:
• Village officials are consulting with Newark attorney Christopher Meyer about the possibility of taking legal action against the village’s engineering consultant and contractor on 2010 street repaving project following installation of the public water distribution system.
Monday night, council member and public service committee chair Arletta Ruton said the committee discussed the situation at length. “The discussion was very good,” she said, adding that council member Peggy Wells asked Meyer about the village’s case. Meyer agreed to look at the village”s documentation at no charge.
Carroll said he and village attorney Richard “Butch” Bindley “had some conversation” with Meyer, who intends to review the repaving project’s contracts and see if the situation “warrants further investigation.” Carroll said Meyer would also give him and Bindley a “ballpark idea” of how much it would cost the village to put together a case and go to litigation. “He did point out that there’s a fee we’d pay, win or lose,” he said.
Wells asked if Meyer also wanted to see the repaving specifications.
Carroll said Meyer only asked for the contracts but he’d make the specifications and blueprints readily available.
“Is there an idea to settle out of court with the engineers?” Wells said.
“We didn’t get in that deep, but I’ll make a note to add that to the discussion,” Carroll said.
“That would be a much more affordable option,” Wells said.
Village officials have discussed filing a lawsuit against M-E Companies, the Westerville -based engineering company that designed the village’ s water distribution system and the subsequent street repaving project. ME was responsible for inspection on both projects.
M-E listed its scope of work on its invoices for the street paving project as: “Buckeye Lake street paving includes detailed plans and specifications, cost estimate, assistance with OPWC funding, contract documents and bidding forms, bidding process, construction administration and inspection.” Total payment to M-E was set at $85,000 for the street paving project.
As soon as paving work began, The Beacon, in a series of editorials, demonstrated that the paving contractor, Chemcote, was ignoring key specifications such as thoroughly cleaning the surface before applying new asphalt, the use of a tack coat and thickness of the new asphalt surface. The editorials noted that these contract violations were repeatedly being done in the presence of M-E’s on-site inspector. M-E charged $70 per hour for its on-site inspector.
Repaved streets, starting with Cranberry Lane, began breaking up within months of the work. The work began in late July 2010 and was completed in October.
Though several former and current village officials have said that Chemcote is no longer in business, a recent phone call to them was answered and company vehicles have been seen in Dublin.