BUCKEYE LAKE – The Village’s summer lunch program is going very well, but keeping the Ryan-Braden Park restrooms closed most of the time could jeopardize its success, program coordinator Marianne Perine told council members Monday night.
Perine said the summer lunch program is sponsored by the Salvation Army in cooperation with the Department of Education and has provided lunches during the summer to local children and youths ages one to 18 for four years. Three local churches provide volunteers to help – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Hebron Christian Church, and the First Community Church of Buckeye Lake.
“They’ve been there all four years,” Perine said. The Buckeye Lake Library has also joined the program. She said the Buckeye Lake Youth Association used to provide space for the program during inclement weather, but now participants use the newly remodeled restrooms at Ryan-Braden Park for shelter.
Perine said the restrooms are only open for one hour per day, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. She would prefer they stay open longer. Perine said she believes the restrooms have such restricted hours because they have been prone to vandalism in the past. She doesn’t agree with reports that the restrooms had recently suffered vandalism and misuse. In fact, she said Buckeye Lake Council President Kitty Zwissler and Linda Masone, council member Robert Masone’s wife, recently cleaned the restrooms themselves and the only required a minimal amount of work. “Today, they are totally clean,” Perine said. She would like to see the restrooms open from dawn to dusk and for the village to take over maintenance.
“The children have nowhere to go after this one hour at noon,” Perine said. “This causes unsanitary conditions in the park and this is bad for the children and bad for the community.” She said the summer food program has no access to storage at Ryan- Braden Park. Perine was also concerned about toddler swings being removed from the park.
“It’s easy to forget the parks are very important to the less fortunate,” Perine said. She said the park has enjoyed some improvements recently, but the village needs to decide what to do about maintenance and she hopes the toddler swings can be replaced.
Former council member Kaye Hartman, who is the Licking County Salvation Army volunteer coordinator, said the summer lunch program served 500 lunches to local children last month– 248 were served at Ryan-Braden Park and the rest were served at the Buckeye Lake Library. “There should be no doubt as to the program’s effectiveness,” she said. “I’m anticipating the month of July will be higher.” Meals are served five days per week.
Resident Charlotte Basnet suggested the village ask street department personnel to maintain the park’s restrooms as well. “It’s ridiculous to have a park without a clean bathroom,” she said.
Buckeye Lake Historical Society Director J-me Braig, former chair of the Buckeye Lake Parks and Recreation Committee, said the village used to hire a person to monitor Ryan-Braden Park during the day. She said council members may want to consider a parks levy. “It doesn’t have to be much,” Braig said.
Zwissler said she saw no abuse of the restrooms when she and Masone were cleaning them. They simply hadn’t been cleaned in a while. It took her and Masone roughly 45 minutes to clean both restrooms. Zwissler said it’s really important to have clean restrooms at the park. “That bathroom really should be open from dawn to dusk,” she said.
In other village news:
• Council members agreed to give part-time Buckeye Lake Police officers a $1 per hour raise across the board. The full-time officers – police chief and sergeant – would not receive raises. “Technically, they got raises when they got those positions,” said Mayor Clay Carroll.
Carroll said it was suggested during a lengthy committee meeting to give all village police officers a 50 cents per hour raise, but Police Chief James Hanzey disagreed and want to stick with the one dollar per hour raise for the part-timers.
“We put it in the budget to start in January, but we never did it,” Carroll said.
Hanzey told council members he received a raise when he became police chief. “I feel bad because I have a retirement and a paycheck. My part-time guys have never got a raise – never,” he said. “I’d rather see that dollar go to our part-time guys instead of (police Sergeant Andy Davis) and I. They’re the ones who need it.” Hanzey said the part-time officer can’t make a living on what they’re making. He said he appreciated council offering him a raise. “I don’t need the raise. I thank you again for giving it, but we need to increase their pay.” The Buckeye Lake Police Department has three full-time officers.
“The discussion in keeping it to 50 cents, we felt like if we gave the part-timers one dollar an hour and only gave the fire department 50 cents, we felt like that would cause hard feelings,” said council member Peggy Wells. “The EMTs have been underpaid for quite some time.” She said some of the EMT’s haven’t had raises for up to eight years and make less than the part-time police officers.
“Uniformity was part of the discussion in committee,” said council member Tom Wolfe.
Wells said fire department leadership didn’t believe the department’s budget could support one dollar per hour raises for staff.
Hanzey said fire department personnel have received raises before police personnel. “It made my guys kind of angry,” he said.
Wells didn’t believe fire department personnel had raises.
Hanzey said full-time police officers have had raises, but part-timers never have. “Give them the raise. Don’t give me one,” he said.
Wolfe said he still favored giving part-time officers one dollar per hour raises, and it was budgeted.
Council agreed, approving the raises for part-time police officers unanimously.
• Water Supervisor Toby Miller said this year’s phase of a water trench line repair project would keep some residents from being able to use their driveways from July 25 to July 29. Currently, the project covers the following areas, which will be closed to traffic during that time:
• Highland Ave. at the intersection of Lake Street east roughly 200 feet.
• Central Ave. between Wood Street and the entire Lake Street intersection.
• Highland Ave. between the middle of the North Street intersection and the entire Renner Street intersection.
LAW General Contracting will do the work, which will include:
• Milling and excavating to a 12” depth (the area over the water line trench),
• Placing substructure and a low density concrete base and,
• Paving the excavated area.
Miller said this is not a repaving of the entire roadway, only above where the water line is located. There will be no access to properties where the roadway is under construction and affected residents will need to find alternative parking for their vehicles for the five-day construction period. Highland Avenue from Renner to Ohio 79 will be accessible from Ohio 79 with a temporary twoway traffic pattern.
• Carroll said the fire department received a $17,000 grant to purchase a LUCAS chest compression system, which mechanically performs CPR on patients, far longer than medics can maintain compressions by hand.
• Basnet said the council desperately needs to communicate more openly with the community. She said village departments submit their reports to council in writing, so they are never discussed openly during public session. “We are the most uninformed village in the world,” Basnet said. “We get nothing from council; it’s all in the packet. You gotta have some communication. People need to know what’s going on.” She suggested council print a regular newsletter.
• Wells said she believes some of the past meeting minutes were low on content and she wanted to add her own comments to the minutes, which she believes should have been included from the beginning.
Council member Arletta Ruton said she wasn’t opposed to adding the revisions as long as they precisely reflected the recording of the meeting.
Wells said her revision may not be precisely what was said in the meeting, but they technically don’t need to do so. “I think the proper way to do minutes is to kind of reflect the general thrust of the conversation and include it in such a way that anyone who wasn’t at the meeting can understand what happened at that meeting,” she said.
“Minutes aren’t meant to be verbatim, so that should be acceptable,” Zwissler said.
“It’s common to change minutes through recollection,” Robert Masone said.
Council accepted Wells’ revisions by a majority vote.