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Village taking steps to address unkempt property

BUCKEYE LAKE – Monday night, Buckeye Lake Mayor Clay Carroll said the village is continuing its effort to convince a Union Avenue property owner to clean up his yard. “We’re making progress,” he said.

Last month, neighbor Jackie Sluder told council members she was speaking for several neighbors when she asked that the village do something about the condition of 54 Union Ave.

Sluder said the property’s lawn is consistently unmowed, despite warnings from the village to do so, and the property is cluttered with unlicensed vehicles. Sluder said it’s tough for she and her neighbors to entertain guests or even enjoy their own yards because of the insects the unmowed property generates. Sluder added that the property owner moves vehicles around to delay enforcement.

Monday night, Sluder told council she has submitted additional complaints about the property and asked about its status.

Carroll said the village had a company to clear the weeds and spray; the property owner will be billed for the service. Also, he said nine citations were issued for unlicensed vehicles. He said the property owner has 10 days to remove the vehicles from the date of citation. If they are not removed by then, the village can tow them away.

Carroll said he’s tried to contact the property owner several times unsuccessfully. Likewise, Code Enforcement Officer Rod Riley said he’s knocked on the door several times, but no one answers.

Sluder said she’s seen the property owner at 54 Union Ave. three times recently. “He almost crossed paths with the gentleman who was spraying,” she said.

Carroll said the village would continue to try to get the property under control.

Council member Peggy Wells said the property is a “real mess” and she’s sorry the neighbors have to deal with it.

In a related issue, Carroll said property owners of 190 Union Ave. agree to help the village demolish the existing house, which is derelict.

Former council member Brenda Hileman said there are several unlicensed vehicles in the village that should be removed. One, she said, has been parked for five years.

In other council news:

• Council President Jeryne Peterson invited former council member Kaye Hartman to tell council members about the summer food program, which the Salvation Army now operates; Hartman is volunteer coordinator with the Newark Salvation Army.

Hartman explained that the village once operated the summer food program that offers a balanced lunch for Buckeye Lake children during the summer, but, “it kind of got lost in the shuffle,” she said, and wasn’t offered for a couple years. However, the Salvation Army, which sponsors similar programs in other communities, secured a grant for the Buckeye Lake program and added reading instruction. “We realized there was a tremendous need in Buckeye Lake,” said Hartman.

Nancy Nesbitt, an intervention specialist with the Granville School District, offers reading programs to children as part of the program throughout the summer.

Hartman said the program serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and then Nesbitt offers classes in small groups Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Buckeye Youth Association building. Fridays are “fun days” featuring a guest speaker or a field trip. A snack follows the classes and Hartman said children are never unsupervised between lunch and snack times.

Hartman said the summer food program is only for children and youths 18-years-old and under, and not for adults. “It is a program for kids,” she said. “Our hands are tied.” Hartman said the program is funded through the Ohio Department of Education, which insists the program is only for children and will not fund it otherwise.

“The Buckeye Lake Youth Association graciously offered space at the youth center,” said Hartman. She said Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault offered books to the program.

• Carroll said Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is closing its Buckeye Lake store in August. Lee’s first opened the Buckeye Lake location in 1972. The village owns the building where Lee’s is located (adjacent to the police station) and will have to find a new renter. Carroll said Lee’s owner said the Buckeye Lake location simply isn’t profitable.

Carroll said there is currently no one under consideration to replace Lee’s at that location.

• Council approved placing a one-mill, five year operating levy on the November ballot. Licking County Chief Deputy Auditor Brad Cottrell said the levy is continuing and is not a new tax. Buckeye Lake residents are currently paying it. If the renewal is approved in November, the levy will continue to cost homeowners $30.53 per year per $100,000 home valuation, and the levy would continue to generate $46,662 per year.

“That will not change,” Cottrell said.

• Council member Barry Herron said he’s aware of the bickering that happens between council members during meetings. “We know there’s a problem; we’re trying to solve the problem,” he said. Herron said he believes all council members have the village’s best interest at heart. “We could get a lot more done if things are discussed in a civil tone,” he said.

Referring to a June 21 motorcycle accident on Meyers Ave. that claimed the life of Johnstown resident Richard Webster, 73, Herron commended local authorities for being able to handle such a tragic situation. “It would break me as a person if I had to do that type of work,” he said.

Buckeye Lake Police are investigating the crash.

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