BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker is calling Daniel Coffman the village’s new “service director,” but his role will cover far more duties and is yet to be defined.
Coffman, currently Newark’s service director, will begin at Buckeye Lake Oct. 17, a couple weeks ahead of current Buckeye Lake Service Director Tim Matheny’s departure. Matheny is retiring at the end of October after working for the village for roughly seven years. Coincidentally, Matheny was also a former Newark service director.
“Dan’s real psyched to do this,” said Baker. “He’ll wear a lot of hats.” Baker said Coffman’s expertise is in development and Baker expects Coffman to take over many of current Buckeye Lake Director of Development Valerie Hans’ duties.
Baker said Hans is only working part-time and he needs a fulltime employee to fuel Buckeye Lake’s economic development. He predicts that Hans will take over many of Matheny’s duties, such as council clerk and other administrative work, which would free Coffman to pursue development. However, the decision is really up to Coffman. “I want him to be a boss,” said Baker. “It’s however he wants to structure things.”
Baker said Coffman has already visited the village several times to discuss plans for its future.
“I’ve lived on the water,” said Coffman, who added that he graduated from Denison University and has visited Buckeye Lake often throughout his life. He also lived on the water on the West Coast, which he said may explain some of his enthusiasm for helping to revitalize Buckeye Lake Village.
Coffman said he shares Baker’s vision of retaining the village’s “quaintness” and finding ways to enhance it. He also plans to focus on “access management” of the village’s Ohio 79 corridor, or the boulevard area from the North Shore Boat Ramp north to the village limits near Mill Dam Road.
Coffman is extremely interested in reaching out to Buckeye Lake Village’s surrounding communities and working together to achieve mutually beneficial grants, like a federal TIGER Grant for surface transportation, or a Boating Communities Grant for funding sea walls, dikes, and other water related structures.
Coffman wants Buckeye Lake Village to have more of a voice in regional projects, such as the I-70/ Ohio 79 corridor, which includes the Etna Corporate Park. He wants to work with site selectors to show them what Buckeye Lake Village has to offer. “That’s going to be a big push of mine,” said Coffman, as well as participating in the Licking County Chamber of Commerce Community Improvement Corporation, which is a regional approach to economic development.
Generally speaking, Coffman plans to create a dialogue with the surrounding communities, economic investors, grant benefactors, and anyone who can help Buckeye Lake Village improve economically and visually.
“I’m not in a hurry to leave Newark,” said Coffman, who contacted Baker when he heard Matheny was retiring because he believes Buckeye Lake presents a unique challenge. Nor was he concerned about political outcomes from Newark’s pending change in administration as Newark Mayor Bob Diebold leaves office at the end of the year. Coffman said he and the City of Newark accomplished a lot during his tenure as service director and he intends to do the same for Buckeye Lake.
Baker said Matheny will be missed. “Tim’s great; I hate to see him leave,” he said. Baker said Matheny, Buckeye Lake Village Council President Charlene Hayden, and former mayor Frank Foster convinced him to run for mayor. “We have a mutual respect for each other,” said Baker.
“It’s been interesting, amusing, and frustrating at times,” said Matheny candidly of his experience as Buckeye Lake’s service director. He said having worked for cities and villages, each poses its own challenges.
In other village news:
• Parks and Recreation Commission member Annetta Macedonia presented village council members Monday night with a report on the commission’s activities, including creating landscaping in front of the village offices. She said the bulk of the commission’s effort has been directed toward Ryan/Braden Park.
“It’s somewhat of a surprise that few residents in our community are aware that the Village of Buckeye Lake has a park,” Macedonia told council. “It’s been underused and neglected over the years because the resources were not there to keep it well maintained. The members of the Parks and Recreation Commission wanted to change that.”
She said the commission has been actively seeking funds from grants, donations, and fees. The commission received a total of $6,670 from an Energy Cooperative “Round Up” grant during the last year to improve Ryan/ Braden Park. Macedonia said the funds went toward resurfacing and relining the basketball court and replacing hoop netting with a professional grade. The infield of the old baseball field was com- pletely restored for junior and adult league play. New swing sets were purchased and installed to replace the “old and unsafe” swings that sat without maintenance for years. Macedonia said other equipment was purchased for the park as well.
Macedonia said Eagles Women’s Auxiliary donations funded a replacement children’s mini-dome and Anne Heron donated paint and supplies to cover up offensive graffiti on the storage building. United Way Day of caring volunteers helped to paint the shelter house and bleachers.
Macedonia said the commission had several requests this summer to reserve the park for family events, church socials, and the Buckeye Lake Fest. In addition, the commission collected $800 in fees from local ball teams, and added a Pepsi machine. She said the next project is to connect the park to public water through a grant.
“The commission has worked hard to bring attention and to protect one of our most precious assets,” said Macedonia. “We want our park to be inviting, safe, and used responsibly by the residents of our community.”
Hayden said past Parks and Recreation commissioners were discouraged by a lack of funding. “I’ll tell you, this group, nothing discourages them,” she said.
“I’m really appreciative of this group,” said Baker.
• Hans said a sidewalk project from Grandstaff to Myers Avenue is under way. It includes curbs and sidewalks on both sides of the road and curbs in the Hebron Road boulevard median.
• Trick or Treat night is Oct. 31, 5:30 to 7 p.m., the same as Hebron. The Buckeye Lake Youth Association will sponsor Trunk or Treat in addition to traditional Trick or Treat night.
• Hayden said the landscaping in front of the village hall was completed as planned. Macedonia, Foster, Crystal Davis, Lindsey Brighton, council member Clay Carroll, and Hope Walley were volunteers. She said Street Supervisor Mark Dymek also assisted with the project and will help finish the section between the plantings and the road. Foster did most of the prep work and installed the landscape timbers. Carroll removed the electrical line between the building and the sign in front. Hayden said Albyn’s nursery gave the village approximately 20 percent off the plants’ price. A $2,000 grant from State Farm Insurance helped fund the project.