A house at 481 Fair Avenue NE that was marked with a tear down order has been sold to a new property owner who intends to make necessary repairs to restore the structure to a livable condition. This is the preferred outcome for any property owner who is cited under local codes and the International Property Maintenance Code. Tear down orders are a last resort for negligent property owners. The City will continue its aggressive program and use tear down orders, when necessary, to rid neighborhoods of dilapidated or abandoned properties.
According to Fire Chief Jim Parrish, the department is on course to far exceed last year’s 3,080 Emergency Medical Response and fire calls. As of today, the department has answered 2,614 calls. That’s 260 more than last year at this time, with two and a half months left in this year. The Chief’s statistics also show that 32 percent of the EMS calls were related to mental illness and drug abuse. He also points out that, thanks to the federal SAFER grants used to hire nine additional firefighter/EMT’s over the past four years, his department had the manpower to handle the increase. 75 percent of the calls are for emergency medical services. In addition, the fire loss so far this year has totaled $154,000 compared to $910,020 in all of 2020. He attributes the downward trend to the work of the department’s Fire Prevention Bureau.
The safe area at Tuscora Park will be expanded for next year’s First Town Days Festival fireworks display. At a meeting this (Monday) morning with City department heads, City Fire Inspector Captain Jim Sholtz explained the changes that will be necessary because the 2022 Festival fireworks display will be bigger and better. Slightly more area will be off limits to parking and people around the Tuscora Park baseball field and stadium parking lot. Captain Sholtz will be meeting with Festival committee members soon to make them aware of the new safe area. None of the festival’s vendors should be affected by the change.
The existing three-year contacts with the City’s bargaining units will expire on December 31st. That’s why plans are underway to begin negotiating new agreements with employees of the clerical, general services, fire, and police unions. The City administration’s bargaining teams will sit down with union representatives later this month to get the process started.
Three ribbon-cutting ceremonies will be held this week in New Philadelphia. The first will be on Tuesday (October 12th) at noon to dedicate the new mural to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Schoenbrunn Village. The mural was designed and painted by several local artists. It’s located on the side of The Eye Doctors building at 163 West High Avenue.
The second ribbon-cutting will be on Saturday, October 16th at 10am to officially open the Artagain Alley, that joins First Drive SW with West High Avenue behind the ManCan building downtown. The lighted walkway will feature a gallery of murals designed by local artists. The project was funded by community members and has been a collaboration between local merchants and the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership.
The third ribbon-cutting will be held on Sunday, October 17th at 2pm, when the Tuscora Park Foundation dedicates the newly constructed basketball courts at Tuscora Park. That ceremony will mark the official opening of the Tuscora Park courts, as well as the new basketball court on South Broadway at the old South School. The Foundation will hold a chicken BBQ fundraiser at the park, beginning at 11am, as a lead-in to the event.
I invite everyone to attend these ceremonies. They will celebrate improvements to our City, and the people and businesses that made them possible deserve our thanks.
Contractors for Joy Global, a previous owner, have started an environmental cleanup at the former plant site on Mill Ave SW. The Ohio EPA is working with the company to have contaminated soil removed from the site, as part of the effort by the Tuscarawas County Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority) to redevelop the property. Meanwhile, demolition of the buildings on the site continues. Completion of that project has been delayed due to the lack of trucks available to haul away the scrap. The EDFA’s study to determine the best reuse of the Joy Redevelopment Site is still a month or two away from its completion.
The number of cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to rise in Tuscarawas County. That’s why the City Health Department is again, urging residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. All three vaccinations are available at the Health Department: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. Just call ahead at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to reserve your shot. Pfizer booster shots are also available. And the Health Department now has a supply of seasonal flu shots. Consult your doctor if you have questions about any of the vaccines.
A ceremony will be held at Tuscora Park on Sunday, October 17th at 2pm to officially dedicate the City’s three new basketball courts. The event is being hosted by the Tuscora Park Foundation, which is having a chicken BBQ fundraiser at the park on Al Maloney Drive that same day from 11am to 2pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Mayor’s office, at McInturf Realty or from any Foundation board member. The Foundation led the fundraising effort to replace the two basketball courts at Tuscora Park and the one at the old South school on South Broadway. The organization’s next project is construction of pickleball courts at Tuscora Park. You can learn more about the organization by visiting its website at www.tuscoraparkfoundation.com.
The official ribbon-cutting opening of Artagain Alley in downtown New Philadelphia will be held at 10am on Saturday, October 16th. The alley is located just off the downtown square between the Mancan building and the former Hotel Lee on West High Avenue. The four-month project has been spearheaded by the owners of Alleycats Marketplace and the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership, and made possible from donations by local businesses, foundations, and individuals. The City paid for the alley’s paving. The opening coincides with the fall Art on the Alley Festival, which will be held the following day on Sunday, October 17th. There’s going to be a lot of good stuff happening in the City that day!
Local artist Sarah Dugger has been commissioned to design and paint a mural to commemorate next year’s 250th anniversary of the founding of Schoenbrunn Village. The mural will be located on the side of The Eye Doctors building on West High Avenue.
This pandemic has been tough on all of us. I urge you to continue to support your friends and neighbors, and local businesses and churches. New Philadelphia is a great community because of its people. Keep pulling together. We will get through this.
At the request of Mayor Mark Haney, the New Philadelphia Health Department will be spraying for mosquitoes this week in several areas in the City of Uhrichsville. Mayor Haney has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno that has Uhrichsville paying our Health Department to spray in neighborhoods in the north Uhrichsville area and along McCauley Drive on both sides of US 250. The MOU expires on September 30th. It also gives Mayor Haney and Uhrichsville City Council the ability to request spraying in other areas of the City during that period. Though Uhrichsville is not within the New Philadelphia Health Department’s jurisdiction, the Ohio Revised Code allows such requests to be granted. This is a one-time, end of the mosquito season event. I am proud that our City Health Department stepped up to help a neighbor in need.
Construction of the City’s newest hotel is underway. Developers estimate it will take 16 months to complete the 88 room Marriott TownPlace Suites hotel on West High Avenue. Like you, I have concerns about how traffic flow will be impacted by the development. That’s why I’ve contacted several of the property owners in the area, and ODOT District 11 officials, asking for their help in developing a new access road that would go behind the hotel and neighboring businesses to Bluebell Drive. The area also needs sidewalks. From the plans unveiled at last Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, the TownPlace Suites will be a four-story structure that overlooks the Tuscarawas River.
Mark it on your calendars: This year the City’s annual Halloween Trick or Treat Night will be on Saturday, October 30th from 6pm to 8pm. If you would like trick or treaters to come to your door, please leave the porch light on. Be mindful of kids and adults at crosswalks and intersections. City police will be patrolling the neighborhoods and passing out candy from their vehicles when possible.
Last week, I met with District 11 engineers to review the plan by the Ohio Department of Transportation to install bicycle lanes on the berms of East High Avenue from 13th Street NE to the KSU-Tusc campus gateway entrance, and possibly beyond to Baltzley Valley Road. The exact layout will be determined once measurements confirm the required width for bike lanes. ODOT is actively developing bike paths in counties across Ohio. The East High path is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
I have appointed Kathy Rentsch of New Philadelphia to fill a vacancy on the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals. She is a lifelong City resident, an owner of rental properties, and has been a very active supporter of our community and our schools. Also, as I told her, she is the daughter of the late NPHS coach and teacher Al Dunn, so I know she will be fair but firm in her decision making.
The Artagain Alley project has been fully funded and is proceeding on schedule in time for its official opening on October 17th during the Art on the Alley downtown festival. Last week, Wood Electric installed overhead lighting in the alley, which is located between the Mancan building and the former Hotel Lee on West High Avenue. The City recently paved the walkway, which extends from Allen Lane SW to West High. Murals are being created to mount on the brick walls along the alley.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has approved funding of a $447,245.00 grant to pay for replacement of runway lighting at Harry Clever Field, the City’s municipal airport. The Fiscal Year 2022 grant will cover 95% of the project’s cost, with the City funding the remaining five percent or $22,362.00. Michael Baker International, the City’s airport consultation, will now develop the plans and necessary documents to put the project out for bid. It’s construction will begin sometime in late spring or early summer of 2022.
The New Philadelphia Health Department is keeping a close eye on the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the City. Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says there have been 49 confirmed cases this month, compared to 14 in July. Remember that the Health Department still has all three types of vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available for people who are immuno-compromised. If you’d like a shot, call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to schedule an appointment. And visit the Health Department’s Facebook page for updates.
It’s great to hear stories about how people and their dogs are enjoying the Southside Community Park. But it’s not great to hear stories of dog owners not picking up after their pets who do their business on the walking trails. Section 505.15 of the City’s Codified Ordinances states that “The owner or person in charge of every animal shall be responsible for the immediate removal of any excreta deposited by his animal or animals on property, public or private, not owned or possessed by such person.” Dog owners face a fine of up to $150.00 per incident. So please use a doggie bag and deposit it in the nearest trash can at the park.
Students of New Philadelphia City Schools and Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School are headed back to their classrooms this week, beginning on Wednesday. That means that police will be enforcing school zone speed limits. Please be mindful of the crossing guards at crosswalks. Speaking of that, the Police Department is still experiencing a shortage of crossing guards. It’s a paying position. Contact Chief Mike Goodwin at the Police Department if you can help. In the meantime, patrol officers will have to be taken off of road duty to be crossing guards.
Mark your calendars for Labor Day weekend. Schoenbrunn Village will be hosting its annual Jammin’ Food Truck Fest end of summer party on Saturday, September 4th from 11am until 7pm at the lower-level picnic area. The event will again feature a variety of food trucks, music, and vendors. The money raised goes to fund the operation and activities at Schoenbrunn Village. Hope to see you there!
When you are driving on Wabash Avenue NW in the area of Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium, please be prepared to stop for pedestrians who have entered the new crosswalk from Lakeview Avenue NW. After pedestrians push a button on the crossing sign pole, flashers are activated warning motorists to slow down and stop until the crosswalk is clear. The pedestrian crosswalk was the final piece of the Lakeview Avenue sidewalk and curb project.
I have scheduled a meeting on Wednesday with officials of RTY, Inc. to discuss what needs to be done to keep the Tuscora Park rides operational and in compliance with state laws. As the story in Sunday’s Times-Reporter indicated, the rides must pass new inspection requirements as the result of Tyler’s Law, which the Ohio Legislature adopted in 2019. This came to light when repairs to the 1926 Ferris wheel got underway about a month ago.
The rehabilitation of the vintage Ferris wheel has become a community project. Gradall Industries, Dover Tank and Plate and City of Dover mechanic Jim Hobart have contributed their time and parts to make the necessary repairs that will bring the ride into compliance. I am grateful for their willingness to volunteer to help RTY. The cost of the rehab project is estimated to be $90,000.00. RTY has pledged $45,000.00 and the New Philadelphia Rotary Club $5,000.00 to the project. Anyone who would like to help can send a donation, in care of RTY, Inc., to:
161 Tuscora Ave. NW
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663.
Donations are tax deductible.
Ohio Fire Marshal Inspector Roger Clark made a return visit on July 28th to the former OYO Motel at 181 Bluebell Drive NW. The motel is now operating as a Days Inn. Inspector Clark found 23 State Fire Code violations and gave the motel operator 28 days to correct them. Last year the Fire Marshal’s Office ordered the operator to correct 96 violations or face having the motel’s operating permit revoked. City Fire Chief Parrish and Police Chief Goodwin have told me that calls to the motel related to drug use and crime have declined in recent weeks.
If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to serve our community, here’s your chance. I’m looking for volunteers to serve on the City’s Housing Board of Appeals. The board hears appeals of citations given under the code.
The seven-member board was established under Codified Ordinance Chapter 1335 Housing Code, which you can read online on the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. Board members serve one-, two- or three-year terms and must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of the City. The ordinance states that membership shall include at least three of the following fields or groups: real estate, building construction, property management, finance, public health, law, homeowners, and tenants. If you’re interested, please send a resume to my Executive Assistant’s attention at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The recent structure repairs to the University Drive SE bridge over Beaver Dam Creek took two days, not the week as originally estimated, thanks to the help of Tuscarawas County Engineer Joe Bachman, county road superintendent Steve McQueen, and the skill of the county’s bridge crew. We are grateful for their efforts to get the project done quickly before classes at Buckeye Career Center and KSU-Tusc got underway.
Also, I want to give a huge shoutout to Gradall Industries and its president Mike Popovich, for arranging for the donation of a new zero turn 60-inch Dixie Chopper mower to use at the new Southside Community Park. Dixie Chopper is known as “the world’s fastest lawn mower”. The machine is manufactured at a plant in Fillmore, Indiana owned by The Alamo Group, Gradall’s parent company.
COVID-19 vaccinations - Pfiser, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson - are available at the New Philadelphia City Health Department. Call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to schedule a time to get your shot.
A two-year process will end this week when Governor DeWine signs off on the transfer of land ownership at Harry Clever Field. I received word this past Friday that the deed transfer and related documents were headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
The City has been negotiating with the Ohio History Connection and the Ohio Department of Transportation to take ownership of land located at the southeast or “33” end of the airport runway. The Federal Aviation Administration required the City’s ownership of the property to continue to receive federal funding for airport improvements. The land is currently owned by the State of Ohio and managed by the Ohio History Connection because of it being within the Schoenbrunn Village historical site. Deed restrictions will require OHC approval of any disturbance of the land.
New Philadelphia’s downtown business community continues to grow. Solid Rock Photos has announced that it’s moving from Dover to a new location at 128 North Broadway. Solid Rock founder Suzanne Trimmer told the Times Reporter that she is “so excited to be in the heart of what is a thriving downtown environment in New Philadelphia.”
Meanwhile, Books and Things owner David Croto has announced that his business is moving to a new downtown location at 173 North Broadway, in the building that also houses the Craft Bistro restaurant. Mr. Croto says that his business will be renamed “The Bookman’s Café” and feature pastries and beverages as well as the usual wide variety of reading materials. Soon, a local Caveman Meat franchise will be located in the same building beside The Bookman’s Café.
Also on the west end of town, the former Skate Place building on Front Avenue SW has been purchased by an investment company, with the intent to locate a Harbor Freight business there. And if you haven’t noticed, site preparation is underway at the West High Avenue location of a new Marriott hotel. Construction of the 88-unit building will take about a year to complete. It will be located beside the Hog Heaven restaurant to the west. Hog Heaven’s ownership is still considering options for using the property purchased to the east of the restaurant (the former adult video store).
While attending the Model T Ford Club International’s banquet last Thursday at Tuscora Park, I was told by numerous club members how much they enjoyed their stay in New Philadelphia and their tour of Tuscarawas County. One club member said it was the best tour he ever attended. I want to thank Tom and Patty Strickling of New Philadelphia for bringing the club’s annual tour to our City. Seeing the model T’s driving along our streets and roadways lifted our spirits and reminded us of how the genius of Henry Ford created America’s love of automobiles.
Repairs to the iconic “Welcome to our City” sign will be completed, thanks to a generous donation of $11,000.00 to the project by Don and Susie Whittingham, the owners of Aqua Blue, Incorporated. The sign has been lifted back onto the roof of the House of Stones building downtown, where final repairs will be made. Chief repairman George Lawrence of Museum Acrylics, says if all goes well, the sign will be raised and lighted by October.
The City’s newest cemetery, Schoenbrunn Meadows on Delaware Drive SE, is now officially open. I want to thank everyone who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony this past Saturday. To schedule an appointment to purchase grave lots or columbarium niches, call Cemetery Department Superintendent Kelly Herron at 330-339-3797.
The City has issued separate tear down orders on dilapidated or abandoned properties located at 117 6th Dr NW and 410 2nd St NE. The demolition of the 2nd Street property
occurred this morning (Monday). Photos of the demolition work in progress are attached.
Diversified Engineering of New Philadelphia was hired to do the work. City Fire Inspector Jim Sholtz, City Building and Zoning Code Administrator Mike Scolati and Law
Director Marvin Fete have targeted several such properties in the City. They will continue to be aggressive in removing them from our neighborhoods. The structures are
eyesores, and in some cases, dangerous to the inhabitants and shelters for drug users and the homeless.
Todd Poole, the owner of the Philadelphia, Pa. consulting firm 4Ward Planning, was in New Philadelphia last week to begin his study to determine what business development
would be the best fit for the former Joy/Howden Buffalo property on South Broadway. Members of the county’s Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority) and
myself gave him a tour of the property and the City, and provided him with some of the data necessary for the study. Poole said it will take him three to four months to
complete the study.
Meanwhile, the demolition of structures on the property continues. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, in time for the Ohio EPA to move in to start
removing contaminated soil on the site.
This past Saturday I had the honor of participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the grand re-opening of the Chatterbox Nutrition shop at 127 West High
Avenue. The new owner, Becky Hart, is a New Philadelphia High School graduate and operates a similar nutrition business in Carrollton. Those of us who grew up in New
Philadelphia remember the Chatterbox Restaurant that was located just a few doors down from Becky’s shop. She has fond memories of the restaurant and wanted to return
going to “the Chatterbox” to our downtown.
I am using $7000.00 from the Mayor’s office Economic Development budget to fund a study to determine the feasibility and development of an Arts district in downtown New
Philadelphia. The study is being conducted by the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership. It will help the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review establish guidelines for
public art, such as mural painting. It will also reveal ways to encourage creativity and growth in the downtown area’s artistic community.
The repair of the storm damaged “Welcome to our City” sign continues. But George Lawrence of Museum Acrylics, who is doing the work, says the project is falling short of
its funding goal of $15,000.00. When I recently spoke with him, he said so far around $6,000.00 has been donated to the project. If you would like to help out, contact Mr.
Lawrence at Museum Acrylics at 330-364-5757 or stop by his store at 160 1St Drive NW.
I want to give a big shout out to the First Town Days Festival committee for the job they did to bring the celebration roaring back after last summer’s shutdown. From all
reports the crowds were big and the vendors did well. And thanks again to City Fire Inspector Jim Sholtz and Parks Superintendent Rod Miller for making the Sunday night
fireworks display happen.
The State’s new biennial budget bill has been approved by the House and Senate and sent to Governor DeWine for his signature. If he signs it as is, the City of New Philadelphia could receive an estimated $1.7 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), instead of the $3.4 million that was included in the House version of the budget bill. The reduction is the result of Ohio’s townships successfully lobbying Ohio’s senators to receive a share of the ARPA funds. Last week I joined the mayors from two statewide organizations in contacting the governor, asking that he restore the original funding from the state’s share of ARPA funds.
Meanwhile, the amendments that keep the City Health Department open and allow the City to expand its broadband capabilities remain in the budget and are supported by Governor DeWine. The new biennial budget has to have his signature by Wednesday, June 30th.
I want to thank everyone who attended the recent ribbon-cutting to officially open the Southside Community Park phase one area. It’s already become a popular destination for our dogs and their owners, and for walkers who enjoy the cool shade of the walking path’s tree canopy. The City’s next ribbon-cutting event is on Saturday, July 24th when we officially open the Schoenbrunn Meadows Cemetery on Delaware Drive SE. The ribbon-cutting will start the event at 11am and the new cemetery and office building will be open for tours until 1pm.
The best four days of summer in New Philadelphia are back with the return of the First Town Days Festival. Festival events begin with the opening ceremony the evening of Thursday, July 1st and conclude with a fireworks display on Sunday, July 4th at 10pm. You can learn more about the festival by going to the festival’s website at www.firsttowndays.com. I’ll see you there!
A reminder for festival goers, Lakeview Avenue NW is closed to traffic until the sidewalk and curb construction project is completed. Several new storm water catch basins are also being installed as part of the project.
I am working with the county and Battle Motors/Crane Carrier officials to draw up an enterprise zone tax abatement agreement that will help the company on Reiser Avenue SE expand and add employees over the next ten years. Once it is completed, the agreement will be brought to City Council for its approval. In its enterprise zone application, the company stated that it intends to double the size of the plant and its workforce. Battle Motors builds internal combustion engine and battery powered EV vocational trucks for refuse, recycling and other industrial and municipal applications.
The Model T Ford Club International is bringing its 64th annual tour to New Philadelphia the week of July 18th through the 23rd. Local club members and hosts Tom and Patty Strickling have put together a tour with stops at tourist attractions in New Philadelphia, as well as in Tuscarawas County and Holmes County. Around 80 vehicles and their owners are expected to attend the week-long event. It will be exciting to see the Model T’s, nicknamed Tin Lizzy’s, traveling our streets to remind us of the vehicle’s importance in the world’s automotive history. Please join me in welcoming them to New Philadelphia.
I hope you’ve made plans to join us this Saturday, June 19th at 11am for the ribbon-cutting and Grand Opening of the new Southside Community Park. The park’s new entrance is on Oldtown Valley Road, just beyond the city limits on South Broadway. The three-million-dollar project would not have been possible without the Tuscora Park Foundation agreeing to be a third-party easement holder of the park land. That was required by the Ohio Public Works Clean Ohio grant program, which funded most of the construction. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony the Foundation will be holding a Chicken BBQ fundraiser until 2pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Mayor’s office and also at McInturf Realty’s office on Tuscarawas Ave NW. Bring your dog and your walking shoes. There will be limited parking within the new park. You can also park at the soccer fields parking lot and easily walk to the BBQ event.
I want to thank the members of City Council, the City Park Board, the Tuscora Park Foundation and my administration for following and supporting the vision of the park’s master plan. A city park dedicated to natural conservation, outdoor recreation and our four-legged friends is something we can all be proud of and preserve for future generations.
It’s been four years since the land on Delaware Drive SE was purchased. And now the date has been set for the official opening of the City’s new Schoenbrunn Meadows Cemetery. The Cemetery Board has selected Saturday July 24th at 11am to hold the ribbon-cutting and official opening of the new ceremony. More details are forthcoming but mark it on your calendar. It will be a historic event. The City has not opened a new cemetery in at least 50 years, maybe longer.
The City Health Department is having a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Tuscarawas County Main Library on Thursday June 24th from 3pm to 6pm. Johnson and Johnson vaccines will be available as well as Pfzier vaccinations for people 12 years of age and older. Call the City Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 for more information.
On Monday June 7th I had the honor of joining nine other members of the Ohio Mayors Association in a meeting with Governor DeWine at the Governor’s mansion in Columbus. The Governor wanted to learn the problems our cities were facing now that his COVID pandemic restrictions have been lifted. All mayors told him that the number one problem is businesses who can’t find workers. I told him about the issues of mental illness, drug addiction and overdose deaths and homelessness that have doubled the number of police and EMS response calls in New Philadelphia since the pandemic began. The Governor said funding to address several of our concerns is included in the new biennial budget being finalized in the Ohio Legislature. The group plans a follow-up meeting with DeWine in about six months.
The mask requirement to enter the John Knisely Municipal Centre (City Hall) will end on Wednesday June 2nd, the day Governor Dewine’s remaining COVID-19 health orders will expire. City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno and myself agree that protocols like hand sanitizing stations and daily disinfection of the customer areas of City Hall should continue beyond that date. The pandemic has taught us that frequent hand washing and disinfection were also effective deterrents of the spread of colds and flu.
I want to bring to your attention the fact that the pandemic has resulted in a marked increase in calls being answered by the men and women of the City Police Department. Last week alone, in two days, our police responded to over 70 incidents, ranging from domestic violence, drug overdoses, mental illness and traffic accidents. And because we are located on an exit off of Interstate 77, our city is a frequent stop for drug dealers, human traffickers and the homeless. Given that, we depend upon our police officers for crime prevention and business and neighborhood protection. Their jobs are not getting easier. In fact, I expect them to be more difficult as summer sets in. So, I am asking the churches in our community to include our local law enforcers in their prayers, and for residents and businesses to thank them at every opportunity. Back the Blue. They need our encouragement.
Officials of the county’s Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority) report that the demolition of the buildings at the Joy Redevelopment property on Mill Avenue SW is now expected to be completed by the end of August. They told me that the Ohio EPA will begin removing contaminated soil from the site in early September when the water table is low. That will minimize the risk of exposing ground water to the soil. Meanwhile, 4Ward Planning of Pittsburgh, the firm hired by the EDFA to do a marketing and financial feasibility study of the site’s potential, is scheduled to begin its work in June.
Vasco Sports of Massillon plans to begin the reconstruction of the City’s three basketball courts on July 12th. Vasco is the same company that rebuilt the city tennis courts at Tuscora Park. The basketball courts, two at the park and the third at the old South School on South Broadway, will carry the same color scheme as the tennis courts. The project’s estimated cost was around $88,000.00.
Funding came from the following sources:
- $15,000.0 from the City’s Parks and Recreation Department
- $25,000.00 from the Rosenberry Foundation
- $45,000.00 from the Reeves Foundation
- At least $1,000.00 from the New Philadelphia boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball programs’ fundraisers.
The basketball court project is the second phase of the City Park Board’s three phase plan for outdoor recreation upgrades. Phase three will be construction of pickle ball courts and a new restroom facility in the grassy area just north of the tennis courts.
The City’s Parks and Recreation Department and RTY are putting the finishing touches on their plans for the official summer reopening of Tuscora Park on Friday May 28th. Right now, the swimming pool will be open daily from 11:30 am to 7pm. The hours could be adjusted if lifeguards are not available. The rides will be open on weekends from Noon until 9pm and weekdays from 4pm to 9pm. The main concession stand’s hours are from 11am to 9pm. And the new RTY Park Place Youth Center and welcome center will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 7pm. RTY’s Summer Showcase season opens on Sunday May 30th at 7pm with a performance by the New Philadelphia High School’s Jazz and Steel Drums bands. For updates on what’s going on at Tuscora Park during the summer, visit the park’s website at www.tuscorapark.com. I want to thank members of the New Philadelphia Rotary Club for the work they’ve done over the past two weeks to get the park ready for its reopening.
The Mayor’s office has awarded two more $2,000 grants to help local organizations reopen from their forced closures last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Rotary Heritage Fund applied for a grant because it was unable to hold its annual fundraisers to support facade improvements to downtown buildings. The other grant went to the Kent State - Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center, which also lost substantial revenue because of the loss of its fall and winter seasons. In its application, PAC executive director David Mitchell said the grant will be used to hire staff during its reopening. The grant money comes from lodging tax dollars paid to the City by local hotels and motels. City Council appropriated $10,000 into the Mayor’s office budget to help art-based and tourism organizations in the City recover from being shut down during the pandemic.
Our City will be hosting the 66th running of the Tuscarawas County Soap Box Derby on the weekend of June 27th. This marks the annual event’s return to New Philadelphia. The derby will be held on Wabash Avenue NW. Racers will go down Wabash Hill to the finish line adjacent to Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium. I encourage you to attend the event to show your support of the racers and to thank members of the Derby Association for bringing the derby back to our town.
On behalf of residents and businesses in New Philadelphia, I want to congratulate the high school graduates in our town. We are proud of your accomplishments and wish you the best in your journey forward. Your final school year was one we will all remember.
The annual New Philadelphia Memorial Day Ceremony is Monday, May 31st at 11am
at the County Courthouse Square.
Following our testimony last week before the Ohio Senate’s Health Committee, City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno and myself remain optimistic that the Ohio House amendment that threatened the closure of our Health Department will be removed from the State budget. In its place will likely be an amendment crafted by Senator Jay Hottinger that would remove health departments in Ohio, both accredited and in the process of accreditation like ours, from the consolidation study called for in the House amendment.
Prior to giving our testimony, our group – Commissioner Ionno, Health Department Director of Nursing Nichole Bache, City Law Director Marvin Fete, City Council president Don Kemp and myself – met with Senator and Senate president pro temp Hottinger to express our concerns about the House amendment. He agreed that being in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is ill-timing to be looking at reducing the number of health departments in the state. I want to give my sincere thanks to City Council and members of our community who expressed to our representatives in Columbus their support of the New Philadelphia Health Department. This pandemic has shown us all the importance of public health services and why they should continue to be readily available to the residents and businesses of our City. The Ohio Legislature has to have the new state budget approved by June 30th. Hopefully the members see the wisdom of including Senator Hottinger’s amendment in it.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has awarded the City a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant of up to $700,000, and an additional $800,000 Safety Program grant to fund the first phase of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Connectivity Plan.
The project will build a bike and walking trail from the Kent State-Tuscarawas campus to downtown New Philadelphia. The ODOT TAP grant will utilize Toll Revenue Credit (TRC) to use Federal funds to pay for 95 percent of eligible costs, while the Safety portion will use Federal funds to pay for 90 percent of eligible costs, including engineering costs. The local share will be around $115,000. The total cost of the project is estimated to be just over $3 million. I am very grateful for Council’s support of the project and the letters written to ODOT by other supporters in the community. My administration will now go to work to secure the funding necessary to complete the project.
The Mayor’s office has awarded separate $2000.00 grants to the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County and Schoenbrunn Village to help them reopen from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Arts-based organizations and tourism attractions in the City were perhaps the hardest hit by closure over the past year. The grant money comes from the local lodging tax paid by hotels and motels.
In its application Little Theatre said the grant will be used to help fund reopening costs, while Schoenbrunn Village will use its grant to pay employees wages during its reopening.
If you haven’t received a coronavirus vaccination, and we urge you to do so, shots are available at the New Philadelphia Health Department. The department has both the Moderna two-shot vaccine and the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine. Call 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to schedule an appointment. Tuscarawas County is now at the yellow, or lowest level in the Ohio Public Health Advisory color-coded system. More county residents with vaccinations will keep us in yellow and help stamp out the spread of COVID-19 altogether.
Just a reminder that the City requires a permit for any garage sales you plan to have now that the weather is improving. The cost of the permit is still one dollar, and you can get them at the Mayor’s office window or at the third floor Service Department window at City Hall (150 East High Avenue).
Architect Michael McInturf and his University of Cincinnati graduate students have completed the first volume of the City’s Master/Vision Plan. The 192-page document is available for viewing and download from the Mayor’s section of the City’s website at www.newphilaoh.com. Professor McInturf will attend an upcoming City Council meeting to gather feedback and answer questions. I would like to hear from members of the public. Email me your thoughts on the study at email@example.com. The second volume of the study is close to completion. It will contain more detailed recommendations on city planning for the future.
Executive Director Wilma Mullet and members of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership (TAP) have agreed to help the City promote visual art in the downtown area and assist artists hired by property owners to paint murals. TAP will also lend its expertise to the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review as it continues to work to develop standards for downtown facade improvements. I am grateful that Director Mullet and the TAP board are willing to partner with the City to encourage the growth of positive artistic expression in our community. It’s become an attraction to New Philadelphia and a source of economic development.
Downtown New Philadelphia is the place to be this upcoming weekend. Fresh the Market, an indoor farmers market, will have its official opening on Saturday May 1st. The market is located in the former Packers Garage at 1st Drive and Allen Lane SW. Owners Debbie and Jim Knisely have completely remodeled the building to provide spaces for fresh produce vendors and crafters. Then on Sunday May 1st, the annual spring Art in the Alley festival will be held in the downtown alleys. It will feature 50 art and crafts vendors, displays by non-profit groups, live music and eight food trucks. COVID-19 protocols will be followed at both weekend events.
I recently had the honor of giving the oaths of office to Amy Vargo and Paul Townsend, the newest members of the New Philadelphia Police Department’s auxiliary unit. The auxiliary plays an important role in assisting our police department in carrying out its mission to serve and protect our community. Auxiliary officers help patrol our parks and provide security at city and school events.
Our City Health Department needs your help. Your voice needs to be heard in Columbus. The Ohio Legislature is considering the closure of local health departments in cities with populations less than 50,000. And members of the Ohio House and Senate are considering this in the midst of a global pandemic, in which local health departments like ours has more than proven their value to citizens and businesses. I’m calling on all New Philadelphia residents and businesses to contact our State Representative Brett Hillyer and our State Senator Jay Hottinger to express your support for the New Philadelphia City Health Department and tell them closures are a terrible idea that would make access to public health services, like COVID-19 vaccinations, much more difficult for everyone. The legislation, Substitute House Bill 110, has been approved by the House and is now in the hands of the Ohio Senate.
Mr. president, I would like to yield the balance of my time to City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno, to give her the opportunity to provide you with more information on this matter.
The City Fire Department is now placing these white and red placards on structures that are vacant and in disrepair to the point that “Offensive Firefighting Operations” are deemed too dangerous for firefighters to enter. The Fire Chief and City Fire Inspector access the structure’s condition to determine if this warning sign is necessary. Should such buildings catch fire, only defensive measures will be taken to keep the blaze from spreading. Owners of vacant structures should contact Fire Chief Parrish or Fire Inspector Sholtz to learn how to avoid this designation.
The demolition of buildings is underway at the Joy Redevelopment Site, formerly known as the Howden Buffalo plant. The County Economic Development and Finance Alliance (port authority), the owner of the property, plans to have all but one of the buildings razed. The oldest building on the property, beside the railroad track, could remain if its structurally sound and fits into redevelopment plans. The EDFA has hired 4ward Planning Inc. of Pittsburgh to conduct a marketing and financial feasibility analysis of the property, which will be made available to potential developers. 4ward has done similar studies for the cities of Cleveland and Lakewood and came highly recommended by TeamNEO, Northeast Ohio’s business and economic development organization. 4ward will be reaching out to local stakeholders over the next few months to ask for their opinions on how the property should be used. I urge you to participate in those public meetings to share your thoughts. The demolition project is expected to be completed by August, then the Ohio EPA will be on site to begin removal of contaminated soil.
The City Park Board is planning for the reopening of Tuscora Park on Memorial Day weekend. That includes the opening of the swimming pool, concession stands, rides, and RTY’s Summer Showcase. I have told Joe Croft, the co-chair of the First Town Days Festival, to also plan to have the Festival in July. The City Health Department will be involved in the reopening process. Any COVID restrictions that have to be maintained will be followed. Hopefully most, if not all of the restrictions will be lifted by July. If not, adjustments will have to be made at the park and also to Festival events.
Here is a list of some of the projects that are underway or will get underway over the next several months:
COVID-19 Vaccinations are available through the New Philadelphia City Health Department. Call 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to be put on the vaccination list. The Health Department’s vaccination clinics are held each Thursday at Tuscora Park.
The Crane Carrier Company on Reiser Avenue SE has been purchased by Battle Motors of Los Angeles California. Battle Motors manufacturers electric-powered commercial vehicles. Company officials told me that they plan to expand the plant and its workforce to build both electric and internal combustion vehicles. Battle Motors CEO Mike Patterson said more details will be provided soon. You can learn more about Battle Motors by visiting its website at www.battlemotors.com.
Last Friday the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Carol Goff and Associates downtown location. The real estate business is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Fair Avenue NW. Carol Goff joins Antique Barnwood Creations, Art and Soul Gallery, Be Unique Studios, SoBoHo and Twice Treasured as new downtown businesses that have opened during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s very gratifying to see entrepreneurs choosing downtown New Philadelphia as the location for starting their businesses.
I want to commend City Fire Inspector Captain Jim Sholtz for the job he’s doing to rid the City of eyesore properties. Captain Sholtz is using the International Property Maintenance Code and the Ohio Fire Code to work with the owners of such properties. His work is having a positive effect. Several of the property owners have either agreed to repair their structures, or have sold them to buyers who are either going to repair them or have them torn down.
Now that the spring season has arrived, no doubt cleaning out unwanted stuff around the house and in the garage is on your “To Do” list. Please remember to call the City Garage at 330-339-2121 to schedule a Special Pickup before you set your unwanted items at the curb.
Last week members of the Downtown Design Standards Board of Review met with Wilma Mullet, the executive director of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership (TAP), to ask for the organization’s help in developing downtown design standards. The roundtable discussion also included several downtown property owners who have commissioned local artists to paint murals on their buildings. The Board of Review members are hopeful that TAP’s board of directors will agree to allow the organization to be the first point of contact to give mural artists direction and support.
In a related matter, a group of downtown business and property owners and artists have a project underway to create a new downtown walkway between West High Avenue and Allen Lane SW. Debbie Knisely, the owner of Alley Cats and Fresh the Market, would like to give a presentation to Council that will explain the project. I would like to yield the remainder of my time to her to give her presentation.
The Southside Community Park is not open for use. It remains a construction area until the project is completed this spring. On Sunday I drove by the new entrance to the park on Oldtown Valley Road and had to stop to rehang the chain across the entrance road that had been taken down. Over the past three months, the City has received reports of the entrance chain being removed and vehicles entering the park. Please don’t. The park is still under construction. Bridges have yet to be inspected and the dog park and pollinator garden are not finished.
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno is cautioning residents and businesses against having Easter egg hunts in large gatherings. She says that State Health Department COVID-19 orders prohibit public or private gatherings of greater than 10 people outside a single residence or the real estate on which it is located. Though reported cases are declining, the coronavirus is still active in our community and we must continue to follow the protocols to limit the spread.
Also, the Health Commissioner wanted me to remind you that, if you are on one of the Health Department’s lists to receive a vaccine, and you get a vaccine elsewhere, please call the Health Department at 330-364-4491 extension 1208 to let them know. Commissioner Ionno said there have been instances where people scheduled to receive the vaccine don’t show up. And that forces the department staff to scramble to find replacements so that none of the vaccine doses goes to waste.
I have appointed Tim Sidel to fill a vacancy on the City’s Downtown Design Standards Board of Review. Mr. Sidel is the owner of Around the Corner Frames and Gallery on South Broadway. He will serve as the board’s downtown business representative. Board members are working to create design guidelines that downtown property owners can use to improve the look of their storefronts and signage.
And New Philadelphia resident Tom Simmelink has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Planning Commission. Mr. Simmelink recently retired as president of Whitemyer Advertising. He has extensive knowledge of marketing and industrial manufacturing. He serves on the Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corporation, was the co-founder of the County Senior Transportation Program, was a recipient of the Vic Marsh Community Service Award from the United Way of Tuscarawas County and served on the board of the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County.
I would like to commend Judge Nan VonAllman and her staff at New Philadelphia Municipal Court for the measures they have taken to keep the court in operation during the pandemic. According to the Court’s 2020 annual report, it handled 8,375 cases last year: nearly 39 percent fewer than in 2019. The sharp decline was the result of COVID-19’s impact. By using grants from the Supreme Court and CARES Act funding, our Municipal Court was able to upgrade its computer network, video technology and security systems in order to stay in operation. The Court was also able to continue its Municipal Court Work Program in partnership with the City Service Director’s office. The report states that in 2020, 107 defendants were ordered to serve a total of 515 days on the work program. If those days had been served in the county jail, the cost to taxpayers would have been $58,195.00. The Court’s annual report was issued on March 1st.
This morning (Monday) I received a document from the County Mayors Association that indicates Tuscarawas County could receive an allocation of over $17 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which has been passed by the U.S. Senate and returned to the House for further consideration. This estimate could change in the final version of the act.
The document was an analysis of the legislation by the National Association of Counties. There was no indication of how much New Philadelphia would benefit from the legislation. If it’s signed into law as is, the act would allocate $120 billion to local governments, split evenly between municipalities and counties. According to the NACo document, the money may be used to respond to the negative economic impact the pandemic has had on households, small businesses and non-profits, or industries like tourism, travel and hospitality. It could also be used to offset revenue losses directly related to the public health emergency and make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. More information can be found at State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds (naco.org).
City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno says that the Health Department’s mass vaccination clinics at
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
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