This morning I hosted a meeting with grant writers from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. It marked the start of the grant application process to raise funding for the Southside Community Park master plan. Several sources of grant funding were discussed, and an was action plan developed. The Park Board, County officials and OMEGA will work together throughout the summer on this process. The City’s biggest challenge will be coming up with matching monies for the grants.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources notified my office last week that the City could proceed with construction of the new tennis courts at Tuscora Park. The contractor is the same that will be removing the turf at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium this week. Once that job is complete, the contractor will start on the tennis courts project. The tennis courts will be closed during the construction period. Also remember that Maloney Drive and Bill Kidd Drive are construction areas and could be closed from time to time.
Contractors are putting the finishing touches on the Rotary Club’s boardwalk and pavilion project at Tuscora Park. The official ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Wednesday June 28th at 5pm. The structure is a beautiful addition to the park. The City Park Board will be working with the Rotary Club to develop a maintenance plan and guidelines for its use for special occasions.
Completion of the new fire station construction is near as preparations continue to hold the building’s official dedication ceremony on Saturday June 24th. I urge all New Philadelphia residents and business owners to plan to attend the dedication and enjoy all the activities scheduled for that day. It’s a historic event, because New Philadelphia has not celebrated the opening of a new fire station for 112 years.
Thanks to the efforts of County Commissioner Joe Sciaretti and County Economic Development Director Scott Reynolds, a representative of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth came to New Philadelphia last week to tour the Howden Buffalo property. APEG specializes in retaining and attracting manufacturers into our region. The APEG rep was very impressed with the facility, and pledged to help market it to potential buyers.
Harry Eadon, the executive director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, informed me last week that the EDFA’s board of directors has given preliminary approval to funding construction of new hangars at the airport. A financing agreement with the City is being drawn up by the EDFA’s attorney. Once received, I will bring it to City Council for review and approval.
Tom Farbizo has approached me with an idea to have the Quaker Digital Academy contract with the City to place advertising on sanitation trucks. It would be an arrangement similar to the one being used to replace windows in the main hangar at Harry Clever Field. I’ve asked Tom to attend tonight’s meeting and will yield time to him to further explain his idea to City Council.
Mr. President I would like to take the remainder of my time to read a proclamation honoring Charlyn Menapace for her years of service to New Philadelphia City Schools and our community.
During its recent Board of Directors meeting, the Stark-Wayne-Tusc Solid Waste Management District voted to fully fund an assessment of the City’s curbside waste and recycling collection program. Service Director McAbier and I have discussed the need for this efficiency study with the District’s executive director David Held. The City of Canton is also undergoing a similar assessment at no cost. The study will be conducted by GT Environmental of Stow, Ohio and should start sometime in June. According to director Held, the assessment will identify areas in our curbside collection program where efficiencies and cost savings can be realized.
The Cemetery Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday at nine a.m. to discuss making a recommendation to Council to purchase nine acres of land in Goshen Township for cemetery use. Service Director McAbier has been in discussion with the land owner about the purchase. No cemetery endowment money would be used for the purchase. It would be paid from fund 814 Evergreen/Burial Park. I will ask the board to stipulate in its recommendation that a portion of each lot sale be paid back into that fund. Once the board’s recommendation is made I will ask the Law Director to prepare the proper legislation and ask that it be assigned to the Parks and Cemetery Committee for consideration.
The beauty of downtown New Philadelphia was kicked up a notch on Saturday thanks to the volunteers who hung the hanging flower baskets on the street light poles. I want to thank the members of the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association and Buckeye Career Center for their efforts and the floral artists at Buckeye for designing the beautiful baskets. I also thank the Rotary Club for hanging the American flags downtown again this year. Together the flowers and flags make our downtown beautiful and unique, and a welcome sign that summer in New Philadelphia is upon us.
The New Philadelphia Veterans Coordinating Committee will hold the New Philadelphia Memorial Day Parade and Tribute program on Monday, May 29th. The parade will assemble at 10am at the First Christian Church parking lot and will proceed down West High Avenue to the Courthouse for the tribute program. A luncheon will be held at the VFW Post 1445 afterward for all veterans, honorees and guests. In case of inclement weather, the parade will be cancelled and the tribute will be held in the New Philadelphia High School gymnasium.
The annual city auction has been scheduled to be held on Monday August 28th. This is the first notice to all department heads to gather up auction items. Once the law director writes the annual auction legislation I will ask that it be assigned to the proper Council committee for consideration.
Last Friday, Service Director McAbier, Airport Commission member Don Kennedy and myself met with executive director Harry Eadon of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, to learn if the EDFA could help with construction of new hangars at Harry Clever Field. After explaining the project to Mr. Eadon, he told us there are several ways the EDFA could assist with the hangar project, including possible financing and construction. He said he would consult with the county commissioners to perhaps make this a joint City, County, EDFA effort.
Meanwhile, as requested, City airport consultant Kevin Sigg of Michael Baker International has written a letter that details the City’s ownership of Harry Clever Field through the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration. I will be sending the letter to local lenders to address the confusion over the airport’s ownership. I am still awaiting the letter I’ve requested from Rea and Associates that explains and corrects the erroneous statement in past City annual financial statements that was the cause of the confusion and lenders’ concern.
I want to welcome Ulta Beauty to the New Philadelphia Business Community. This past week Ulta opened its new store at New Towne Mall, much to the delight of many residents. Over the past several weeks I received many inquiries about Ulta’s opening, almost as many as Starbucks. I want to thank New Towne Mall manager Jason Jordan for his hard work in bringing Ulta to New Philadelphia, and for his ongoing efforts to retain businesses, attract new businesses and create jobs at the mall.
On a related note, I’ve learned that Starbucks on Bluebell Drive and the Goo Goo Car Wash on West High Avenue both plan to be open for business by the end of the month.
I would like to thank City Information Specialist Jeff Erb and Lisa Geers of Whitemyer Advertising for the work they’ve put in to give the City’s website a complete new design. It’s now online at www.newphilaoh.com. There are still a few tweaks that need to be done. The goal of the redesign was to make the site more user friendly and make it easier to access documents and City departments.
The morning following the last City Council meeting I met with officials of Howden Buffalo and Howden’s parent company Colfax Corporation to learn if progress is being made in selling the vacant plant. They asked for the meeting after I had expressed my frustration with the buildings being vacant for nearly four years and what I felt was a lack of effort by Howden’s real estate agent in marketing the property. Tomas Horak, Colfax Regional Category Manager, told me that there are two parties interested, but the environmental issue at the property is still a sticking point. Last week at his request, I send him the documents I received from the Ohio EPA that state the site can be used for commercial, as well as industrial development. And I told him that New Philadelphia, and county and state officials, stand ready to assist in the sale in any way we can.
A reminder that the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association’s first Second Saturday celebration downtown is this Saturday May 13th. The hours are from 5-9pm and it will feature artwork from several high schools in Tuscarawas County.
A paragraph that I’ve learned has been in every annual City audited financial statement since 1999 has caused local lenders to hesitate to offer a loan to fund construction of a new hangar at Harry Clever Field. The paragraph reads: “New Philadelphia Airport and New Philadelphia City School District have been excluded from the accompanying basic financial statements. Both are legally separate from the City. Neither imposes a financial burden nor provides a financial benefit to the City. The City cannot significantly influence the operations of these entities.”
When we began the process of seeking a loan to finance the hangar construction, all the interested lenders said that paragraph was problematic because they interpreted it to mean that the City did not own the airport. Therefore, there was no way to collateralize a loan. During a meeting last week with Citizens Bank, its representative indicated that the paragraph was still making the banks’ underwriters hesitant. As a result, I am asking Council to table Resolution 24-2017. In my opinion, we cannot proceed with the hangar project until corrections are made in the annual financial statement to clearly state that the City does indeed own the airport.
A representative of Rea and Associates, which conducts audits of the City, told me this morning that the troublesome paragraph was apparently written by City officials in 1999 and included in the audited financial statement prepared that year by the State Auditor’s office. And it has been included in every annual financial statement to date. Now that it has been brought to light, I have asked Rea and Associates to issue a letter explaining the error and clarifying the City’s ownership of the airport. I have also asked our airport consultant Michael Baker International, to write a letter documenting that the Federal Aviation Administration considers the City of New Philadelphia as the owner of Harry Clever Field. With these letters in hand, we can then re-bid the project and seek a local lender to provide a construction loan.
A reported 200 people attended last Thursday’s Tusc Talk event at the Welty Middle School auditorium. It was encouraging to see that many concerned adults and young people come to learn about the opiate addiction epidemic in our community and to hear ways we can defeat it from Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and local law enforcement officials. The City will continue to use its resources from the Health Department, Municipal Court and safety forces to help victims overcome their addictions and arrest and jail drug dealers.
Service Director McAbier and I will be planting buckeye trees outside Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium on Thursday morning. Several students from New Philadelphia High School will be joining us in the Arbor Day celebration. The trees will symbolize our appreciation of Coach Hayes contributions to New Philadelphia’s history and the pride we have in the great state of Ohio.
As a city government, we must continue to do all we can to raise awareness of the opioid addiction epidemic that has gripped our community. I am urging all council members, all city employees and all concerned New Philadelphia residents to attend an upcoming meeting with Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine. He will be in town on Thursday, April 20th to conduct a town hall meeting from 5pm to 7pm in Welty Middle School’s auditorium. State Representative Al Landis, Jody Salvo and several of the county’s anti-drug organizations arranged the Attorney General’s visit. Their goal is to educate us about opioid addiction and how we can prevent our children and family members from becoming addicts.
In conjunction with the local effort to reach out to heroin addicts to put them on a path to recovery, I have started discussions with Safety Director Popham and Police Chief Goodwin about what City law enforcement can do to attack the suppliers of heroin and other addictive drugs in New Philadelphia. My goal is to make it very uncomfortable and unprofitable to be a drug dealer in our town.
I have been working to learn more about the Utica shale play to determine how New Philadelphia can capitalize on the growing number of oil and gas opportunities it is creating. The presenters at last week’s Utica Upstream seminar at Walsh University were unanimous in stating that the Utica play will lead to North America becoming energy self-sufficient. And their biggest immediate concern is finding enough workers to construct pipelines, power plants and cracker plants. There is a shortage of welders, pipefitters and CDL drivers. Stark State College is adapting its curriculum to provide skills training. And I know that Buckeye Career Center is doing the same. According to the presenters, entry level roustabout jobs start out at $20.00 per hour.
Besides the lack of skills, failure to pass drug tests was also identified as a key employment problem. If you are unemployed, consider this: drug use is a job killer. Its standing in the way of you having a job that pays from $20 to $35 dollars an hour in the oil and gas business.
Service Director McAbier and I had the pleasure of going on a nine mile bicycle ride this morning on the streets of New Philadelphia. The ride was hosted by Yay Bikes of Columbus and Ohio Department of Transportation Director Lloyd McAdam and ODOT special projects engineer Roxanne Kane. The ride showed us that the design of our city streets is bike friendly, which gives New Philadelphia a head start in becoming a destination for bicyclists.
The ride was led by Yay Bikes Executive Director Catherine Girves, who gave us a great education on bike safety and the economic benefits of having bicyclists come to our town.
The deadline to have New Philadelphia City income tax forms filed and balance dues paid is next Tuesday, April 18th. Avoid the long lines by filing this week. Tax payments can be made online through the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. The income tax dollars you provide pays for fire and police protection, as well as city services such as road maintenance and street lighting. I also want our taxpayers to be aware that Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature continue to look for ways to take City income tax dollars out of New Philadelphia. Their latest attempt is by taking over the collection of net profits tax from local businesses. If they are successful, the result will be more of our tax dollars being sent to Columbus, meaning less money we will have to pay for our city services. I urge New Philadelphia taxpayers to contact State Representative Landis and State Senator Hottinger and ask them to remove centralized collection of net profits tax from the biennial budget currently being crafted in the Ohio Legislature. It will harm the quality of life in New Philadelphia and will hurt our ability to maintain and attract businesses to provide jobs.
Last week our community was shaken by the news of the tragic death of Doctor Maureen May. Dr. May served New Philadelphia as a longtime member of the Board of Health. She will be remembered for her compassion, her determination to provide quality health services to our residents who couldn’t afford them and for her professional guidance of the Health Department’s mission. I ask that you continue to keep the family of Dr. May in your prayers.
This morning my office received a letter from James Zehringer, the Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, announcing that the City has been conditionally awarded $196,000 in grant funding for renovation of the Tuscora Park tennis courts. The grant, through the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, will be officially awarded when it receives final approval by the National Park Service. Mary Fitch of Director Zehringer’s office told me this afternoon that, if all goes according to plan, the project contract should be approved with a start date of June 1st of this year. With the addition of this grant, the money pledged to the project totals $371,000: with the City and school district pledging $50,000 each and local foundations pledging a total of $75,000. The estimated cost of the renovation is $392,000.
Residents in the Tuscora Park area should be aware of runners and walkers participating in the New Philadelphia Business and Community Association’s 8th Annual Shamrock Run this Wednesday March 15th. The event starts at the park at 6:30pm. The course includes Fair and Ray Avenues and 3rd Street, and the streets in the neighborhood of Tuscora Park. If the course is too slippery because of snow, I would expect the event to be rescheduled.
Tomorrow’s scheduled City Planning Commission meeting has been cancelled because a quorum of the members could not be present. At next month’s meeting the members will get their first look at a list of City-owned township land that should be annexed into the City. After studying the list, the commission will make a recommendation for an assignment to Council’s Zoning and Annexation committee. The commission will also review the Southside Park master plan.
This past week the installation of new LED lights in downtown street lightening was completed. If you haven’t done so already, I invite all residents and Council members to drive through the area at night to see the difference LED lighting makes in the appearance of our downtown. The new lighting should cut the City’s downtown street lighting bill by two-thirds. I’ve asked Service Director McAbier to track the bills over the next several months to confirm that.
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
John Knisely Municipal Centre
150 East High Avenue
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Mary Anne Otte
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
330-364-4491, ext. 1242
Clerk of Council
330-364-4491, ext. 1243
330-364-4491, ext. 1210