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Council debates limits on public comments

BUCKEYE LAKE – There was strong disagreement between Buckeye Lake Village Council members as to what qualifies as public comment. Council member Peggy Wells invited Adam Keeler, owner of Columbus’ Skate Naked facility (which means helmets are optional) to discuss Buckeye Lake Village’s skate park, but council president Jeryne Peterson was less than enthusiastic.

“The subject matter has to stay with security over the skate park, period,” Peterson said, adding that Keeler had three minutes to speak, like any other person speaking during public comment period.

“Point of order,” Wells said. She understood Keeler could be on the meeting’s agenda and speak freely.

“Point of order to you,” Peterson said. “I am council president and I have spoken,” as the gavel cracked.

Wells said that during public comment periods citizens are able to discuss anything they like.

Peterson repeated that Keeler had three minutes.

Wells said Keeler traveled all the way from Columbus to speak to council and he doesn’t have to be restricted to discussing security issues. “He can speak about any subject he wants to; this is embarrassing,” she said.

Mayor Clay Carroll said Keeler was free to discuss anything he liked during the three-minute public comment period.

Skate Naked is a 70,000 square feet indoor skate park that is not clothing optional. “We call it ‘naked’ because it’s pure,” Keeler said, adding that it’s a provocative name. He said Skate Naked is inside a large warehouse where graffiti is actually encouraged.

Keeler said some electronic surveillance would help deter unwanted activity in Buckeye Lake’s outdoor skate park near Ryan-Braden Park. He said Skate Naked used to have a graffiti problem until skaters were encouraged to place their artistic touches on skate ramps and so forth. “Then we had no problems at all,” Keeler said.

Keeler said a skate park is like a house. If it appears to be run down, it will attract an undesirable element. “A coat of paint could go a long way to deter crime,” he said. Keeler also suggested painting “no solicitors,” or “skaters and bikers only” on the concrete. Once electronic surveillance is in place, he said placing a few vending machines at the park would help raise revenue. “It would make it look more maintained,” Keeler said.

Later in the meeting, council member Robert Masone said Roberts Rules of Order were created as a guide for parliamentary procedure, and meant to discourage chaotic and argumentative public meetings. “I would hope we could treat each other with a little more love than I’ve seen” at the council meetings for which he has served, he said.

In other village news:

• Council member Barry Herron said the village water department is ready to hire a new part-time employee. “The water department is very healthy financially,” he said, adding the village can afford to hire to someone to take water meter readings on the weekends and so forth. “There are a lot of readings that have to be taken,” he said.

Herron said with only two people in the water department it’s difficult to maintain accurate readings. “A third person would help immensely,” he said.

Carroll said the village isn’t ready to hire a third person quite yet, but he anticipates it could happen soon.

• Council member Kitty Zwissler said village representatives had a productive meeting with Licking County Grants Coordinator Sue Spiker May 7 in the Ryan-Braden Park shelter house to discuss a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant through Licking County.

Carroll said previously the grant is very early in its process, but it is designed to target a specific neighborhood which would be the within the following approximate boundaries:

• 1st Street on the south

• 7th Street on the north

• Ohio 79 on the east, and,

• Wasteweir Run to the east.

“The specific projects are yet to be determined but I would expect a large portion of it to go to storm sewers and infrastructure in this area,” Carroll said.

Wells asked if matching funds were necessary for the grant.

Carroll said he wasn’t sure how much that may be yet.

Spiker said the grant is still a work in progress and by no means a certainly for the village.

• Carroll said the village has quite a few open lots following the demolition of dozens of derelict homes throughout the village and it may be time to consider auctioning several of them, and save the village paying taxes on the properties.

“We’ve talked about doing that for two years,” Herron said. “Let’s just do it.”

Council clerk Valerie Hans said the village doesn’t pay taxes on some of the lots.

“This is hardly a good time to sell lots at Buckeye Lake considering we don’t have any water,” Zwissler said. “I’d suggest we sit on them for a while.”

• The Licking County Salvation Army announced free lunches will be provided for children through age 18 during the summer months, from June 8 to Aug. 17, at Ryan-Braden Park, 121 South Third Street, Buckeye Lake. “Some of these kids in the village, this is the only meal they have,” Peterson said. Lunches will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and snacks from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

• Carroll said three bids were opened to complete the sixth phase of sidewalk improvements within the village along Hebron Road (Ohio 79). The project is funded through a Community Development Black Grant that Licking County is administrating. Carroll said Jobes Henderson and Associates, ADR, and GGC Engineering all vied for the project. Jobes Henderson bid $16,600, ADR bid $11,000, and GGC bid $8,980.

“ADR is the only one that included field inspection,” Carroll said, meaning that hiring ADR would save money even though its bid was higher than GGC, which did not include a field inspection. The Jobes Henderson bid also did not include a field inspection. “Without a doubt we should go with ADR,” Carroll said.

• Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton said EF Johnson Technologies donated 20 portable MARCS radios to the village. Five will go to the police department and the rest to the fire department. He said the radios are valued at $2,500 each. “The village got lucky,” Ruton said, adding that MARCS radios have become necessities for police and fire departments. “It’s imperative for the interoperationibility between departments now,” he said.

Monthly fees are $20 per phone.

• Carroll said the date for this year’s Lakefest was changed to Saturday, June 20. Council members decided to keep the annual Lakefest celebration alive as a tribute to its creator, the late John Sproat, who passed away unexpectedly Jan. 26. The celebration will be smaller this year given the low level of water in the lake as ODNR prepares to replace the lake’s 4.1 mile earthen dam. The low water levels have severely restricted boat traffic on the lake this season and it is difficult to launch boats at the North Shore boate ramp. The fest has been held at the North Shore park the last two years.

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