President of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on October 16, 2002, at 7:00 p.m.
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance. Mr. Knox gave the invocation.
Mr. Knox took roll call. Present were Council members Danbury, Galster, Pollitt, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and McNear.
The minutes of October 2, 2002 were approved with seven affirmative votes.
COMMITTEE AND OFFICIAL REPORTS
Civil Service Commission - Mr. Strange said they talked about the CVS testing. We established a timeline for the vacant violations bureau clerk position and we responded to some correspondence from the City.
Rules and Laws - no report
Public Relations - no report
Public Health, Safety & Welfare - no report
Public Works Ė Mr. Wilson said the 2002 street program is completed. The final inspection is scheduled for the week of October 21.
Public Utilities - no report
Capital Improvements Ė Mr. Danbury reported that ODOT had an estimate for construction for the CSX grade separation project of $11,400,045. The bids were open with the lowest bid being submitted by Smith and Johnson Construction at $9,940,487. Construction should begin next March and be completed in June 2005. The Springfield Pike streetscape program is underway now. All of the work will hopefully be done this year except for the planting of the trees. The Kemper Road Phase II old Commons Drive to Chesterdale Road project was awarded to Barrett Paving. Construction will be will next year. There is no change to the Sharon Road bike path project. The SR 4/Sharon Road intersection improvements contract was awarded to Barrett Paving. Construction will begin October 28 and will be mostly completed by the end of this year.
Mayor Webster said the longer we put off the CSX grade separation project the more it costs. We finally got it bid and now the construction schedule laps over into 2005. It seems like we have been working on this for decades.
Mr. Shuler said this project is administered by ODOT and the first time we heard the extended date was when they came back with their final estimate when we found the price had gone up by $1.5 million. Now the final estimate is $1.5 million less than that. We have not seen the contractorís schedule yet. That is ODOTís parameter for the job. Hopefully the contractor will give us a better schedule than they are allowed. We may still see the majority of it done by 2004. We just have to remember we are not in control of this one.
Mr. Vanover asked how far south on SR 747 will our touch up reach during construction, specifically the exit ramp of eastbound I-275?
Mr. Shuler replied that intersection is part of the project because we come off of that ramp and come down underneath the railroad. Secondly, we have a follow-up project that we will be pursuing. That is to rebuild that pavement south of this project to take care of those problems we are experiencing now. We really hesitate to do a lot of work in there now because it will be beaten up pretty bad.
Mr. Danbury said Iíd like to remind Council that this project was in serious jeopardy or was going to become a huge cost to the City had it not been for the efforts of Mr. Osborn. Itís nice to have someone who is a mover and shaker.
Finance Committee - no report
Planning Commission Ė Mr. Galster said Springdale Mason Pediatrics had a revised ground sign. We approved a slight modification to the existing sign but it still retains its brick character and we granted an allowance for a temporary sign until they can get the other manufactured. There was a revised site development plan for Pappadeaux Restaurant, 11975 Northwest Boulevard, which was previously approved in September 2001. That was approved with conditions.
Board of Zoning Appeals - no meeting
Board of Health Ė Ms. Pollitt stated we had a public hearing for the food service fee changes. That resolution passed. Our portion of the infrastructure grant passed down by the federal government will be $5,263. On October 30 the Department of Natural Resources will have a representative from the Wildlife Division available at the Community Center for an open house discussion about coyotes. The Health Department is offering flu vaccines to Springdale residents 65 and older and other residents who have a chronic health problem. We welcomed George Kellner as the newest member to the Board of Health.
Veteranís Memorial Committee - no report
O-K-I Ė Mr. Knox said the Board of Trustees met on October 10. The major item was questions that had arisen in the August meeting as to the accuracy of the Metro Moves plan. Mr. Ralph Greevey of the Northern Kentucky Planning Commission had gone over the plan and he said he had six pages of changes that were made that had not been in front of the board. Rather than make it a political issue, particularly before the election, he moved that we discuss that at the November meeting. That was later moved to the January meeting.
Mayorís Report Ė Mayor Webster said Halloween will be observed in the City on October 31, 6-8 p.m. I think Ms. Pollitt covered the coyote situation pretty well. We had sent a letter to all the property owners that adjoined the woods between Cedarhill and behind Springdale Lake Drive stating what we were attempting to do and what they should try to do to prevent further problems with the coyotes. In that letter we stated that we were trying to get this meeting set up. We will send these same people a letter but the entire City is invited to listen to what the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has to say, and answer any questions you might have. The contracts for our magistrate and prosecutor expire December 31. Both people have agreed to serve for another year. Mr. Gaines would like a modest increase from $15,000 to $16,500 for 2002. Mr. Flessa would like an increase to $9,000 and an hourly increase from $110 to $112.50. Iíd like to have those ordinances brought in at the next meeting.
Mr. Galster asked when is the Halloween party?
Mayor Webster said the Halloween party will be on Sunday, October 27, 2-4 p.m.
Clerk of Council/Finance Director Ė Mr. Knox said we have Resolution R26 accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the Budget Commission. I respectfully request that Council look favorably upon this.
Administratorís Report Ė Mr. Osborn said for the last two meetings we have been inviting comments on the Urban County Community Development Block Grant Program. We are in the funding process for the next few years. One of the limiting factors we have to deal with is that we have to target census blocks that are qualified as meeting low/moderate income standards. The drawback is that the 2000 census data has not been reduced to the census block area for income so we are still working off the 1990 census. In 1990 we only had one eligible census block. That is the block bound on the south by Kemper Road, on the west by Greenlawn, on the north by Forest, and on the east by Springfield Pike. This block may not necessarily be low/moderate income as most people think of it. I think itís because there is a high concentration of elderly living in this area and by definition elderly living independently count as low/moderate income. This is one of the areas that is coming up on the Cityís five-year capital program for improvements related to replacing the streets curb to curb. I have asked the engineerís office to give us some cost estimates on the streets bounded by those streets I just mentioned. Those boundary streets are not eligible but the streets internal to that boundary are eligible. The streets involved are Cloverdale Avenue from Greenlawn to SR 4, Dimmick from Cloverdale to Valley View, Rose Lane from Kemper Road to Forest Avenue, Smiley from Greenlawn to Valley View and Valley View from Cloverdale to Dimmick. Taking the reconstruction process we have been using for the other subdivisions, the cost estimate for those streets I just named totals $457,000. We will not be able to apply for funding the first year for all those streets. Iím proposing that we look at the three-year period of the application process. Weíll work it out with the engineerís office on what is the most efficient way to divide the streets up and try to allocate them equally over three years. The deadline for the application is November 8. Weíll prepare an application and Iíll report back at the next meeting before submitting the application.
Law Directorís Report - no report
Engineerís Report - no report
Mr. Danbury made a motion that Council go into executive session as a committee of the whole to discuss possible real estate matters. Mr. Vanover seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes. Council went into executive session at 7:23 p.m .and reconvened at 7:35 p.m.
Mr. Knox said there is one commission addressed to Mr. Osborn from Time Warner Cable saying we will be adjusting our rates effective January 1, 2003. Our customers will receive notification of the rate adjustment thirty days prior to implementation. They do not tell us what the increase will be at this time.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Princeton School District Tax Levy
Mayor Webster said I was approached by Catherine Raabe who serves as a consultant to the board and administration to talk about the facilities planning.
Mr. Darby, Superintendent of Schools, said we thank you for giving us an audience this evening. On the agenda this is listed as a presentation on the Princeton Tax Levy. It is not. If things go the we way we think they will, in May we will have a bond levy on the ballot. We are now in the process of working with our communities trying to determine what they would support relative to doing something about our aging facilities. Mrs. Raabe and Aaron Mackey are with me this evening.
Mr. Darby said this is the third time since 1996 that Princeton has done work with this facilities planning. The two previous reports found themselves on shelves quickly. We are trying to do it differently this time. We are going to the public first. Several months ago we conducted a telephone survey to see what our people thought about the buildings and what they felt they wanted in the future. Mrs. Raabe has been working with our consultants. Princeton residents support doing something with our resident buildings but there is also a strong desire for community schools. Armed with this information the board will be given a recommendation and hopefully in January they will come through with a proposal that will take us to the ballot in May.
Mrs. Raabe stated we have two upcoming events. The first is a listening session. We have done focus groups and educational assessments. The next step is listening sessions. There will be one in Springdale October 28 at the Community Center and it is open to all residents. The next step will be community forums. There will be three forums in November.
Mr. Mackey, Assistant Superintendent, said I wanted to emphasize some of the things Don Darby talked about. This has been a severe problem for us since 1996. Itís been a very lengthy process. One of the problems we uncovered with the survey was that people understood that we had aging facilities. On the other hand, they see the shining floors, the well painted walls. The problem is in the infrastructure, plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems.
Mr. Osborn said I had an opportunity to serve on that facilities committee back in 1996. What impressed me was the overall age of the buildings themselves. One of the things we got to do was tour those buildings. You have done an excellent job maintaining the facilities that you have, but quite a number of them show such age that you have no option but to seek replacement. There is a significant issue facing the school district.
Mr. Mackey said we made do for an awfully long time.
Ms. Pollitt said the report we received a month ago states that Springdale Elementary was built in 1927. Is the enrollment even?
Mr. Mackey replied it is pretty consistent.
Ms. Pollitt said I was looking at the abatement costs for hazardous materials. That adds so much to the package. I remember being in the basement of Springdale Elementary twenty years ago for scout meetings. That wasnít being used by the student population and I understand they have cleaned it up and are using it now.
Mr. Darby replied in three of our buildings we had to move kids out of the basement areas because of repeated floods.
Mr. Danbury said the quality of our education has not declined as our buildings have. Iím sorry to say I was in support of the stadiums being built. I donít have a problem supporting this at all. If our school systems go down our kids donít get a quality education. Thatís when everybodyís property values go down.
Mr. Darby said if we go into the building phase, we have pledged to work with our communities. We will work with citizens and put up facilities that blend in with the communities where they are going to be built.
Mr. Galster said itís my understanding that you donít want to talk about what the projected dollars are at this point. You just want to listen to what the community has to say.
Mr. Darby said there are figures out there. When OSFC came in and did the assessment for us they left us with two master plans. They costed those out at between $120 and $130 million.
Mr. Vanover said I think the smartest thing you have done is take it to the community.
Mayor Webster said besides the listening session at the Community Center on October 28, there is a listening session at Heritage Hill on October 29.
Increase in Hamilton County Sales Tax for Light Rail
Mr. Knox said on November 5 Issue 7 will be on the ballot. "A sales and use tax shall be levied for all transit purposes of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority at a rate not exceeding Ĺ % for a continuing period of time. A response will be either yes or no. The plan itself is contained in what is commonly referred to as Metro Moves. To supplement that is an exact map showing the I-75 corridor. We will have two presentations; one from Mr. John Schneider, who is one of the leading proponents of it. He is a member of Letís Get Moving. Secondly we have a gentleman representing Alternatives to Light Rail, Mr. Stephan Louis.
Mr. Schneider said we have a bus system that has 85% of its routes in the city of Cincinnati. The basic plan of the bus is to utilize the major cross-town routes which frankly didnít exist when the original bus system went together. We know people donít want to go downtown to transfer. When we win this on November 5 Paul Jablonski will probably order 70 busses on November 6. We will right away start the bus service up here to the suburbs, the people who need second and third shift services. We will start the cross town in 15-18 months. Most of the bus plan will be in effect in three years. We will start a street car line that will connect into Newport and Covington and will go up to the University of Cincinnati and the hospitals. There are five major light rail lines in Hamilton County. In the I-75 corridor I think you want to give commuters an alternative to the amount of overbearing trucks and on I-71 there is probably more office growth, which is a different type of market to serve. The route would come up from downtown to UC and Xavier, into the valley with the final stop in Springdale. Another route would go to Blue Ash. Another line would use the Central Parkway subway tunnels. We need new stations and ventilation. The west side gets service third. We also have a branch coming off from Xavier that goes through Hyde Park to Newtown and Anderson Township. When thatís finished we can build three miles of lines from Northside and Elmwood Place and now we have the ability to run trains cross-county without having to go downtown. This plan connects 300,000 jobs who donít have transit today. You start with a two-car train and when you fill up the cars you add another one. Thatís the capacity that these systems have that the highways donít have. This will cost an average tax paying family in Hamilton County $68 a year.
Stephan Louis of ALERT (Alternatives to Light Rail Transit) gave a power point presentation. Mr. Louis said I became convinced over time that this is not a workable system in Cincinnati. The highway system has become the lifeline of most businesses in this area as well as around the country. In greater Cincinnati there are just over 6 million auto trips per day. The OKI study shows that of the 51.6 million miles traveled in this area every day, if we build the system out totally, the impact will be 50.9 million miles per day. If youíre not impacting congestion and youíre not impacting the number of automobiles that are on the road, then where do we go? OKI projects that the 24.5 minutes that it takes to get to work will rise to 59 minutes for an average commute in 2030 with the plan. When I questioned the plan the answer was if we didnít spend any money on anything, it would be even worse. Weíre not advocating not doing anything. Letís do something to help the people who are most transient. People are moving out of Hamilton County faster than any other county in the country except Philadelphia.
Mr. Danbury said you mentioned something about employment shifting to the suburbs.
Mr. Louis responded OKI projects it will be 70% outside the City and possibly outside the county in the next thirty years.
Mr. Danbury said this transportation is not just going one way. Isnít it going the other way as well?
Mr. Louis replied yes. The problem you face is that you are trying to attract somebody out of an automobile because 98% of us use a car to get around. The distance between the rail routes gets closer and closer downtown so the possibility of light walking from the train to your place of employment is a real possibility. When you get outside the city the distance will be 10, 15, 20 miles between routes and you will be dependent on busses meaning there will be a 45 to 75 minute commute.
Mr. Danbury said one of the problems companies are finding is that they canít good employees. Maybe you can get people in the inner cities to move out to the suburbs, or you can get customers to move out to the suburbs. Iím in the car all of the time. Iím in sales. On the other hand, you talk about a 45 minute wait. Sometimes Iím doing that with gridlock. We canít continue to expand and expand and expand.
Mr. Louis said that has been the nature of man since the beginning of time. Bus rapid transit can deliver people faster and more efficiently for 20 cents on the dollar. Many cities are going to that now. As people move the bus line can be shifted. There is flexibility with that. If we take 50% of the dollars for construction and move it to something that OKI projects will do no better than 1 to 2%, I agree with their projection.
Mr. Danbury said you are looking at communities who have invested in the roads and buildings. If the people donít want to do the commuting then these businesses go belly up and the communities go belly up. If we donít do something now I think weíre going to regret it.
Mr. Louis said I think we have to make some significant strides such as what you just outlined, computerized traffic signals, providing left and right turn lanes, etc.
Ms. Pollitt said you have mentioned OKI several times. Do you have their ear?
Mr. Louis answered Iím afraid not. For the year and a half I have been involved with this I have approached them many times.
Ms. Pollitt said Iím on I-75 sitting in traffic on a daily basis and I donít see anybody doing anything to relieve the congestion along the I-75 corridor. Other communities do meter ramping, a truck line and I would like to have that message taken back.
Mr. Louis said we have over 22,000 tractor trailers that come through here every day. They donít stop. You canít keep them off the interstate because they have as much legal right to be there as you and I.
Mr. Wilson said I can relate to what you are saying to an extent. I grew up in Philadelphia and had relatives in New York City. Public transportation was the only means of transportation. I graduated from a school in Washington D.C. and used public transportation before the rail. Now that they have the subways itís nice to get out of the airport, walk a block to the subway, get on and go to a relativeís house. People moving to the suburbs are not going to use public transportation. Iím thinking about the jobs out here that need people. They are going to come from the inner city. Light rail will get them out to get the jobs.
Mr. Louis said I used the high speed rail into Philadelphia when I lived in Camden, New Jersey, also in New York City and Washington DC. Those are all heavy rail systems that carry ten times as many passengers per hour as a light rail system. They go under the streets or over the top of streets. Light rail crosses the grades at all streets and runs on the streets.
Mr. Knox said, Mr. Schneider, I read what is on the ballot. It says "The transit purposes of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority". If people vote in favor of this, are they voting in favor of this plan or can that plan be modified as time goes on?
Mr. Schneider replied the statutes of the State of Ohio requires the ballot language that is on the ballot. I suppose it could be amended. The Hamilton County Commissioners appoint the board members to SORTAís board. SORTA is a very credible organization and you have no reason not to believe they will execute this plan.
Mr. Osborn said I do serve on the North/South Initiative and we did have a meeting today. I did hear some numbers quoted earlier but they are not consistent with what I heard today. Today we were looking at a four-lane continuity build-out. Thatís essentially I-74 to I-275. To do that four lane build-out and replace the existing four-lane section from Brent Spence to I-74 comes out to $36 million a mile. The numbers we were given today include the 13.3 new four-lane road. This cost also includes a replacement of the existing four-lane road from I-74 to the Brent Spence Bridge. That does improve safety and certain access issues, but it does not improve capacity overall in the corridor.
All we looked at today was the cost for a four-lane build-out. Our next presentation will be on the transit side of this issue. In January the presentation will be what will happen with a combination of these two.
Chris Hedger, Councilmember with the City of Deer Park, said I wanted to address Mr. Danbury and Mr. Wilsonís questions. You asked about people coming for jobs. This week I watched Cincinnatiís Council meeting and Mr. Cranley and the Mayor both commented that the social justice is great but not one person has said they are ready to get out and go to the suburbs and work. They also said they were very concerned that they would be double taxed. I am from the city of Deer Park. We have passed two resolutions opposing the building of the light rail and also the tax levy. Sycamore Township, Delhi Township, Green Township, Symmes Township, Madeira and Norwood have also passed resolutions opposing the tax and the light rail. The reasons vary. In the City of Deer Park we are concerned about aesthetics, safety, potential affects on property values. In Sycamore Township they are concerned with the disruption and annoyance of the lives in Sycamore Township. In Norwood they are concerned about losing residences and businesses that are vital to the continued existence of that city. Why spend billions of dollars on light rail. There are too many questions. The City of Cincinnati is saying they will probably repeal the $38 million that they get in earnings tax every year. Thatís a double tax for them. The State of Ohio has not pledged their 25%. What is going to happen if this passes? This money is a blank check. Nowhere does it say it will be used for light rail. Iím not saying letís not do anything. I urge you to pass a resolution. I have all seven communities represented here if you want copies.
ORDINANCE NO. 72-2002 "AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO EXECUTE A CONTRACT TO PURCHASE WITH HELEN MEISER FOR THE ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY LOCATED AT 11117 SPRINGFIELD PIKE, SPRINGDALE, OHIO 45246, AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Ordinance 72-2002 passed with seven affirmative votes.
RESOLUTION R26-2002 "RESOLUTION ACCEPTING THE AMOUNTS AND RATES AS DETERMINED BY THE BUDGET COMMISSION & AUTHORIZING THE NECESSARY TAX LEVIES AND CERTIFYING THEM TO THE COUNTY AUDITOR"
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Resolution R26-2002 passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mr. Knox said a few months ago a young gentleman by the name of Joseph Gratten appeared before this assembly and requested funds to go to a leadership meeting in Washington DC. I saw that young gentleman today and he informed me that he has received an acceptance to the United States Military Academy and will be going to West Point next year.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Veterans Memorial - November 6
Board of Zoning Appeals - November 19
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE
David Cors, 1328 Meier Avenue, said I just wanted to follow up on some of the rail line conversation. I just wanted to point out that a lot of people have looked at these designs. It has received endorsements from numerous organizations. It cut across our economic community as well as social community. It has been endorsed by the Archidiocese, Fifth/Third Bank. Itís not very often that you see a plan come together that pulls these various groups into a common united endorsement. I also wanted to address the issue of property values. I just moved back from the east coast. I was living in West Windsor which was divided by a heavy rail line. Our property values were sky-rocketing.
Mr. Danbury made a motion that Council go into executive session as a committee of the whole to discuss possible real estate issues and possible litigation. Mr. Vanover seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Council went into executive session at 9:20 p.m. and reconvened at 9:42 p.m.
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT - none
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Contracts for prosecutor and magistrate - November 6
Code of Regulations for Cincinnati North - November 20
Changes to Tax Penalties - November 6
Council adjourned at 9:46 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council