President of Council Kathy McNear called Council to order on September 6, 2000 at 7:00 p.m.
The governmental body and those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance.
Mr. Knox took roll call. Present were Council members Danbury, Galster, Pollitt, Squires, Vanover, Wilson and McNear.
The minutes of August 16, 2000 were approved with five affirmative votes. Mr. Danbury and Mr. Vanover abstained.
Mr. Wilson said Iíd like to request a moment of silence in memory of Officer Kevin Crayon. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Albright, live in our city. The viewing was today from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. The funeral and burial is tomorrow at Oak Hills Cemetery. A moment of silence was observed.
Letter to Mayor Webster: "On behalf of the people of the Springdale Church of the Nazarene I would like to convey our gratitude for your care and concern to us in regards to our recent fire in one of our outer buildings. We appreciate the City of Springdale and its support. We are grateful to the firefighters for the proper response to the fire. Their speedy arrival most surely kept the fire and smoke damage to a minimum. We look forward to a continued relationship with you and the City of Springdale. Thank you again for your support. Sincerely, David W. Graves, Senior Pastor"
Letter to Mayor Webster: "Tom and I want to thank you personally for the lovely proclamation that was mailed to us about a month ago. Itís still amazing to us that you did this! We just did not think we were doing anything outstanding; simply trying to keep our little portion of Springdale pretty. Tom has now framed it and we have it hanging in our family room. It looks quite lovely. We do thank you for appreciating what we do for our city enough to do something so nice for us.
I do want to encourage you again to have the city plant more trees this fall to replace those that have been taken down on the tree lawns here in Springdale Terrace. Also, there are several dead trees in Ross Park that need to be removed and obviously new trees need to be planted. Trees give back so much for just a little care and attention.
A couple of weeks ago when the work was being done on the sidewalks here on Neuss Avenue, Darryl, one of our city maintenance workers, cut two very long limbs off our lawn tree. I expressed displeasure with him when he said he was going to do it. He said there should be a fourteen foot clearance between street level and the limbs and it didnít meet the requirements. Tom was upset also when he got home and saw all the work that was done. Obviously from the size of the tree limbs, they have been here quite while and had not caused any problems for anyone as far as we know. All of a sudden these limbs pose a problem and need to be removed. The damage is done now and I know if something like this ever happens again, Iím going to make some phone calls to get clarification. I also think if the City is going to cut trees like this, then you need to paint the wounds as well. Tom went out and bought the product to paint the treeís wound cuts since they were rather large and we know that they should not go untreated. I know a lot of others have not done this on their trees where we have seen the cuts.
Again, thank you for the lovely proclamation. Perhaps residents in other sections of the City will be encouraged to do something similar. As the saying goes, litter really bugs me. Sincerely, Tom and Joanie Rielege, 11756 Neuss Avenue"
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Presentation - Board of Elections - Julie Stautberg
Julie Stautberg, Director of Hamilton County Board of Elections said Ken asked me to come down and address two points with the Council and Iíll answer any questions that I can for you. The first has to do with a Charter issue and whether there needed to be a charter revision to change some of the ward lines you have in Springdale. There may have been some miscommunication and for that I apologize. The mandate was for the Hamilton County Board of Elections to make the precinct lines match up with the census blocks. That was a mandate from the Ohio legislature that we had to have completed by August 1, 2000. We have completed that. In preparation for that we sent letters to all of the municipalities in the area addressing where there were ward lines that were not necessarily census block compliant. If any of those communities wished for us to come out and meet with them, show them the areas that were not census block compliant and if they wished to change those ward lines they could do so. We, at the Board of Elections, are not authorized to change ward lines and would not do that. We went out to some of the communities. Some wanted to change ward lines; some did not want to. That was fine with us. Originally we had indicated that without changing some ward lines, it might result in a vast increase in the number of precincts in your area, which means a couple of different things. When we go out to find poll workers it would require that we find four more poll workers for each precinct that is created, polling locations for the precincts that are created, and also whenever you would have an election for which you would be charged by the Board of Elections, then you would have an additional charge because you would have additional poll workers and additional polling locations. When we reviewed the information that we had we went back to Ohio University. The legislature gave Ohio University and Cleveland State some authority to come down and help the Boards of Elections and review the maps. We showed Ohio University some of the areas that we had and with some additional guidelines from them, we were able to determine that where there were ward lines that were not census block compliant, that did not necessarily mean we did not have to create additional precincts, so we acted accordingly. What that meant for Springdale is that you actually lost a precinct. That was the issue on the census blocks and precincts. Whether you choose to change your ward lines is up to you. I believe the Charter revision has been filed. The deadline is September 8. You can keep it there or you may withdraw it by that date.
Mr. Schneider said Julie Stautberg, the Director of the Board of Elections was very helpful this entire process and very much assisted us in working with our Charter Revision Commission in getting everything lined up when we thought those were the rules and regulations to be followed and had our people right on top of everything. Then when it got reversed we felt it prudent to bring it back to Council to discuss whether they wanted to take it back to the prior or leave the changes we made, which opens it up in case there are any federal census requirements that we do need to follow any time in the future. It is up to Council completely. I did bring an ordinance in case you choose to put it on the agenda repealing that and that certainly can be filed prior to the deadline. If you choose not to do that, the ordinance will go in as proposed and taken into consideration everything that needed to be changed to accommodate Census Tract modification and any other federal or state requirement. That is the broad language we put in to allow modifications by Council in any interim period of time that does not fall outside the required percentage changes. Thatís the issue that Julie is addressing here tonight. That has to be a decision of Council and I think she will show where the precinct lines will be which is a secondary issue to this question and really unrelated. I think it would be better if we resolve this with any questions you might have before we move onto the next question.
Mr. Galster said I believe there were enough other issues on the Charter amendment that we should leave that alone. We may not have to do it as fast for the reasons we thought we did, but the idea of bringing the numbers down and trying to make it so if we do change it, we have more flexibility on how we change was probably a key issue of that ordinance and I think it should stay put.
Mr. Wilson said you are suggesting that nothing changes.
Mr. Galster replied we passed an ordinance two months ago to put this on the ballot. The things that we changed or would change if this Charter amendment passes are still good changes that need to happen to the Charter any time we would need to redraw the district lines. I think the actual ordinance itself and the revision to the Charter is still a valid issue separate from whether or not we need to have our district lines follow the Census Tract. Even though that has changed and our understanding of what we have to do to be compliant with that and federal and state law has changed, I donít think it changes what we have proposed to put on the ballot. We just wonít exercise paragraph C at this particular time but all the other changes make good sense to me.
Mrs. McNear asked Mr. Schneider to read the ordinance to refresh everyoneís memory.
Mr. Schneider said the relative paragraph is C: "Council shall be responsible for redistricting of districts of the Municipality based upon voter registration as of the preceding general election, and shall review the recommendations of any board or commission that they may choose to appoint for said purpose. The territory of any district shall never be divided from nor noncontiguous with the balance of the territory of the district. Council may redistrict the districts: whenever (1) the number of registered voters in the district having the greatest number of registered voters exceeds the number of registered voters in the district having the least number of registered voters by fifteen percent (15%); (2) in any year in which changes are made to U.S. Census Tracts within the Municipality; or (3) when changes in State or Federal law so require. Redistricting shall be mandatory whenever the discrepancy between the largest and the smallest district exceeds twenty-five percent (25%). Upon any redistricting, Council shall attempt to reduce the difference between the districts with the greatest number of registered voters and that with the least number to ten percent (10%) or less of the number in that district with the least number of registered voters." That is the reading as it is on the ballot and I would agree having worked with the Charter Revision Committee that Steve Galsterís conclusion is correct. I would feel the same way.
Council agreed to go forward with the Charter revision on the ballot.
Ms. Stautberg said issue 2 had to do polling locations, specifically precincts J and L, that prior to this November had been held in the building and have since been moved. There had been some concern addressed, I assume by members of Council and by some members of the community as to why we had left the Municipal Building. This building has been fantastic for us and we appreciate all the accommodations that Mr. Osborn has given when we were looking for polling locations and trying to find locations for Springdale. With the realignment and changing of precincts, precinct A might contain part of precinct A, but also might contain different parts of the community so that has resulted in some different lines for the precincts. The way we are advised by the Secretary of Stateís office is that do not want, when we have polling locations in separate locations, for anyone who is driving from one precinct to have to cross through a precinct that has a polling location, to another precinct to vote. That is what has happened here. Ms. Stautberg showed Council the latest Springdale map. Precinct L now extends above A. That all used to be one precinct. K is voting at the Presbyterian Church; H is at the Knolls Clubhouse; J is at Temple Baptist Church and L is at Calvary Christian. The Municipal Building is located in Precinct K. Precincts L and J would have to travel through I and H to get to K. Thatís why we have changed the polling places from the Municipal Building to different locations. If it is a serious concern for Council weíll certainly take a look at it. We canít change it for November but we can consider changing it for next year if it really is a significant issue for everybody. What we consider is passing through precincts that already have a polling place and the distance people have to travel. Census Blocks run down the middle of streets, on railroads or on waterways. Precinct blocks typically, up until this year, would run through the back of somebodyís property. So we had to move precinct lines to match up with the Census Blocks. In addition to that, we are not permitted to have a precinct with over 1,000 voters for totally different reasons. In a presidential election with over 1,000 voters we would have significant lines when people go to vote. We shoot for the 600-700 range.
Mrs. McNear asked Mrs. Webster to come to the podium. Mrs. McNear said she has been very involved in the voting process.
Mrs. Webster said Precinct J as it stood before this is Springdale Lake Drive, Glensprings and the cul-de-sac. It had nothing to do with the Beacon Hills area. Did you move Brookston and Weymouth Court in there because they were in Precinct J?
Ms. Stautberg replied Brookston is a Census Block. Half of the street is in A and the other half is in J.
Mrs. Webster said explain again to me about traveling through precincts?
Ms. Stautberg stated it is my understanding that J and L had been moved from the Municipal Building to other locations. We moved the polling locations closer. If I lived in L and voted in the school building, then I would have to go through H to get there. We do our best. We know we canít make everybody happy. If we had a choice of doing this in a presidential year or not, we would not have chosen a presidential year. All residents of Maple Knoll Village will vote in Maple Knoll Village.
Mrs. Webster said the logic of not going past precincts doesnít hold water because we have people across the street screaming every year. They have to go by five precincts to get to the Presbyterian Church. I donít pass any precincts to get to the Municipal Building.
Ms. Stautberg asked if you live in L wouldnít you pass H, the Knolls Clubhouse?
Mrs. Webster stated the people in those precincts are geared up to vote here and there are going to be major problems.
Ms. Stautberg said we are sending registration cards to all registered voters. We are doing PSAs with the television stations. We have been going to communities all summer. We have a web site. Weíre doing everything we can to let people know there may be changes in their voting locations.
Mayor Webster said weíre all concerned with voter apathy. I think the more we change people around the more inclined people are to say "to hell with it." There was a mix up a couple of elections ago where someone at the Board of Elections mistook Maple Knoll Village for the Knolls Condominiums and they inadvertently sent out some cards to people changing the location. The people had to go to two or three places before they got to vote. By the time they got to the polls, the ones who endured going from place to place, were steaming mad because they felt they had been jacked around. Of all the places in Springdale that we have the voters go to, the Temple Baptist Church is absolutely the worst place. Itís the worst place for poll workers. Itís the worst place for the inside workers and outside workers. The traffic flow is terrible and now weíre going to put two more precincts in the church so weíre going to compound that problem and weíre going to move one across the street to the Pentecostal and that situation is going to be even worse since the polling place itself is going to be sitting back a substantial distance from the street. Iím not sure how youíre going to handle poll workers. Weíll probably have more confrontations there as we did last year at the Temple Baptist. We opened up our City facilities many years ago because you couldnít find enough public facilities so we were using houses. Some of those houses didnít comply with all the handicap regulations. The community has been extremely happy with the fact that they knew where to go year after year. Parkingís not a problem. The workers had all the facilities there, the restrooms, the kitchens, etc. The outside poll workers knew the rules, where they could and couldnít stand. Things have gone extremely smooth for a place that had five precincts. Itís our hope that once we got moved into our new community center that we could eliminate the Temple Baptist precinct and move A into that facility also. If we needed to move I in there we could move them also. Space at our new Community Center is not going to be a problem on election day. I think you are turning your back on all of these public facilities that are readily accessible and weíre just giving those to the Board of Elections. I think to turn your back on those is a mistake for the citizens of the community. I beg you folks to reconsider. Donít move anybody else into Temple Baptist and donít put anyone in Pentecostal and try to move the one thatís been in Temple out of there.
Ms. Stautberg responded I can assure you that we are not turning our backs on the City of Springdale, just like we would not turn our backs on any of the citizens of Hamilton County. That is why we are sending out the voter registration cards to all of the citizens of Hamilton County. I understand what you are telling me. I appreciate your concerns. I will again take a look at it. We look at the distance people have to travel; people traveling through precincts. We look at the mandate we had to change some of these precincts and match them up with census blocks. To a certain extent our hands were tied. We are doing everything we can to make sure the citizens know where they are supposed to vote on November 7. We donít want to send somebody to a wrong location. Thatís why we made the adjustment at Maple Knoll.
Mayor Webster said the big concern legislatively is that you are concerned about people traveling by a polling place to get to their polling place. In the situation where I live, and Mrs. McNear and Mr. Knox, thatís what we are going to do in the future. Right now, none of us has to go by a polling place to get to where we vote but with this change we will have to go by a polling place to get to Pentecostal or Temple Baptist Church.
Mr. Galster said this is people who are not in Springdale making decisions about where Springdale people vote and they have no idea how the flow of this community works. You created a flow that makes people go twice as far as they used to go in a more confusing fashion, past more polling places and theyíre not going to know.
Mayor Webster stated Iím not just voicing this on behalf of the three of us. A large percentage of the people in this City are going to have a change in polling places and they arenít going to be happy with it. They will blame the City for it. The poll workers will take the brunt of the blame on election day. Even though you sent them a card and you have a web site, people will go to their same old polling place.
Ms. Stautberg replied thatís why weíre doing everything we can to notify the residents.
Mayor Webster said if we had been given some input into what you were considering we could have voiced some of these concerns at the time.
Ms. Stautberg answered we sent letters. We made every action we could to come speak to Council before we were thinking of making any changes but we never heard from anybody.
Mr. Vanover said I think some of the complaints should be directed to the Secretary of Stateís office if it takes a resolution or a phone call because we have people making decisions for us, dictating our lifestyles who have no knowledge of our movements. Itís creating headaches. Iíll take some phone calls and take some heat because itís easy for us to say we didnít do it. In the peopleís defense, the changes donít make a logical conclusion.
Ms. Stautberg said we donít want to put Council in a position to field phone calls about these changes which is why when Mr. Schneider asked me to come out and speak to you I said no problem.
Mr. Schneider said Julie was really receptive of getting the input of Council and Administrative based on what their knowledge was. She hasnít been on the job that long but she has grabbed the reins and really has been extremely responsive to us. Sheís done an outstanding job of trying to accommodate us and if she says sheís going to go back and look at it, I trust she will. If it can be modified reasonably, she will do it as soon as she can; for this election would be ideal.
Ms. Stautberg said what I am hearing from Council is that you do not like Temple Baptist at all. If we could move A and J, that would be ideal, but if we could at least move J out of there because it was not originally there, you would like that completed.
Mayor Webster replied we would like J and L left where they were here at the Municipal Building. Longer term we would like to consider A and H being moved to the Community Center.
Ms. Stautberg asked would it be able to handle seven polling locations with up to seven or eight votamatics in each poling location?
Mayor Webster replied yes.
Ms. Stautberg said Springdale is not the largest community but it is not the smallest either. You are advising us that that is not really a big deal for the people who live in that upper section of J to travel to the Municipal Building.
Mayor Webster stated they are getting in their cars to drive anyway. The majority of the people in that subdivision are driving this way to go to work.
Ms. Stautberg replied ok. The reason we did that was to try to take into consideration the distance that someone has to travel. If we have the bulk of people only traveling a two mile radius but we have some people traveling a ten mile radius, if we could find them some place closer to home, thatís what we try to do.
Mr. Danbury said Iím not questioning you personally but I donít think you are going to find a more receptive Council or Administration as far as responding to any questions or input. I find it hard to believe that no one from Council or Administration has followed up with you on any assistance in trying to redraw this. We have a lot of apathy and everybody here is trying to do everything we can to get people out there. When you change things it just makes it more frustrating. We need to keep it consistent as much as possible. We could have everything at the Rec Center. Most people may live close to a poll but most are going to and from work. In the future I recommend that you talk to Mr. Osborn or the Mayor because I donít think you are going to have a better partner in trying to handle a situation like this in the future.
Ms. Stautberg replied we sent letters to all the communities. I have only been with the Board of Elections since January. We started last year changing some of the precinct lines to match census blocks. After the March primaries when we started back up again, we sent letters to all the Councils. I canít tell you whether it went to the Mayor or City Administrator but that letter stated that we would like the opportunity to present maps to you and come out and speak to your Council. If we directed that to the wrong person then I apologize. I donít need to rattle off the communities where we have gone and spoken before August. Weíve been more than willing to come out and speak with you. Mr. Schneider and I have spoken several times. Weíve made ourselves available. I wish it had been a few months ago but Iím ready to take this information back to my office, look at it and I will contact the appropriate person to let you know what we've done. If thereís something we can change weíll do it.
Mrs. Webster said precinct I consists of ten houses on Springdale Lake Drive and Mallard Lake Townhouses. Those people have to follow the same route as the people in L on Springdale Lake Drive and Peak Drive do. They also are going through other precincts to get to the Municipal Building to vote.
Ms. Stautberg said I as a precinct is attached to K as a precinct so it can vote as the same location as K is voting. It is also attached to H and could vote where H is but we were told the clubhouse isnít big enough for two precincts.
Mr. Schneider asked Ms. Stautberg, can you leave the maps here for us to look at?
Ms. Stautberg replied I would prefer to take the maps back to the office and look at them with the people who make the decisions. Then if you would like me to come back out tomorrow I can do that.
Mrs. McNear asked can you e-mail us a copy of the map so the Administration can be looking at it also?
Ms. Stautberg responded I am afraid that to diminish it would lose the effectiveness of it.
Ms. Pollitt said I would like to see the precincts stay in public buildings such as the Municipal Building and Community Center. As a voter I would feel more comfortable going into a building that is my building as opposed to a church where Iím not familiar with the layout. Since we have this new Community Center ready to open and we have plenty of room Iíd like to see us use the facilities we have.
Mr. Wilson said Julie, I can appreciate the heat you are taking here. Iíve been a resident of Springdale for twenty-two years and I think I have gone to three different polling places. I now go by the Knolls to come vote here. I donít have a problem with that but I do have a concern about the elderly voters who are used to coming to one place and are resistant to any change. Itís important that the City and the Board of Elections work together to come up with a solution that benefits the majority. I appreciate you coming out.
Ms. Statuberg said this is the first heat we have taken. If itís just the beginning, so be it. If itís the end, thatís terrific too.
Mr. Vanover said please leave Heritage Hill, F and G, alone. The same would be with Maple Knoll.
ORDINANCE NO. 71-2000 "AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE SUBDIVISION OF THE TAX INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICT INTO THREE SUBDISTRICTS, AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Galster made a motion to adopt and Mr. Vanover seconded.
Ordinance 71-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 72-2000 "AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE ISSUANCE AND SALE OF NOT TO EXCEED $3,000,000 OF TAX INCREMENT FINANCING REVENUE BONDS, SERIES 2000 (PICTORIA ISLAND PHASE I PROJECT) OF THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE, COUNTY OF HAMILTON, STATE OF OHIO, UNDER SECTION 5709.40 ET SEQ. OF THE OHIO REVISED CODE FOR THE PURPOSE OF REFUNDING CERTAIN OUTSTANDING NOTES AND PAYING THE COST OF CERTAIN PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS; AUTHORIZING A PLEDGE OF AND LIEN ON CERTAIN SERVICE PAYMENTS TO SECURE SUCH BONDS; AUTHORIZING A TRUST AGREEMENT SECURING SUCH BONDS; AND RATIFYING A SERVICE AGREEMENT SECURING SUCH BONDS; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Galster made a motion to read by title only and Mr. Vanover seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mr. Knox said the ordinance is for $3 million. It currently appears as though the amount will be $2,975,000. It will be applied to Phase I of Pictoria Island. We will pay $2 million to pay off the outstanding TIF that is currently an obligation to the City. The $2,975,000 will be paid by service payments from the developed areas of the land. Of course, at first this is not possible because the income is not large. The remaining amount of money will be made up by the partnership that is involved in the development of the land. That is covered where it authorizes a lien of certain service payments to secure the bonds, trust agreement securing the bonds and we are ratifying a service agreement that was passed May 18 securing the bond. Weíre declaring an emergency because this $2 million is due to be paid on the 14th and Council wonít meet again until the 20th.
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Mr. Osborn invited Mr. Quinn to address Council. There are some additional features to this particular bond issue that are unique.
Mr. Quinn said Ed covered it very well. As he mentioned, this is paying off a $2 million general obligation debt of the City. It is converting it into a revenue obligation. It covers the Phase I of Pictoria Island costs of $950,000. The bonds are being purchased by individuals. They are not being overwritten by an investment bank and in that case, we have requested and gotten back an investment letter from these investors indicating that they are credited investors meeting security laws which means they are high worth individuals. They know what they are doing and have the ability to sustain a loss. If anything goes wrong they wonít go after two entities; the City of Springdale and my firm, Taft, Stettinius and Hollister. This matter has been under discussion for a long time at Council. People are well aware of it. It is payable from service payments, not from the taxing power of the City.
Mayor Webster said this fulfills one of the prerequisites that I had set when we started talking about the development of Pictoria Island. We have a $2 million outstanding issue there and we made it very clear to all the parties before Mr. Tipton entered the picture, that we would consider no situation where that $2 million did not get pulled into the overall process. We didnít want that hanging out there with some properties here, here and here trying to service that $2 million and some other properties in the middle trying to service a bigger issue. We wanted it all incorporated. I think this takes that issue off the table so I commend David and his associates for the approach to this and I think it clarifies the bigger issue when that comes before you at a later time.
Mr. Osborn said I just wanted to address the point that this is unique in that we are not securing these bonds by an irrevocable letter of credit but instead, by this investment letter. I was hoping Tim could elaborate on that a little more and how it will be executed, when it will be executed, and again emphasize that this is in place of a letter of credit. Itís essentially a waiver or acceptance of responsibility for liability or exposure to risk in terms of the investment on the part of the buyers.
Mr. Quinn said the original consideration was for the City to acquire the letter of credit to back this which basically means if there was a default the bank pays off the bond holders and the City is not liable for it. In this case, because it was arranged with these credit investors who are high worth individuals, they were willing to take the risk . They understand there have been no disclosure documents describing the entire process. Rather they have relied on their own investigation and are satisfied that it is going to go. These are exempt from registration of the Securities Act so they wonít have the disclosure. They are buying them for their own account. They are not planning to sell them to anybody else, but if they do sell them to someone else, they have to be accredited investors, and they have to notify the City that they are going to do so.
Mr. Danbury said itís a win-win for everybody. I admire everybody who put this together.
Ordinance 72-2000 passed with six affirmative votes. Mr. Wilson was out of the Chambers.
ORDINANCE NO. 73-2000 "AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE ISSUANCE AND SALE OF $6,400.00 RENEWAL NOTES, IN ANTICIPATION OF THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS, TO PAY COSTS OF CONSTRUCTING, FURNISHING AND EQUIPPING ADDITIONS AND RENOVATIONS TO MUNICIPAL RECREATION FACILITY, AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Galster made a motion to read by title only and Mr. Vanover seconded.
Mr. Danbury made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Ordinance 73-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mayor Webster said this is for $6.4 million. The deficit coming due was $7 million. We are reducing the debt outstanding on the Community Center by $600,000. That was the overall game plan when we embarked upon this project. We are trying to renew this note each year for $600,000 less than what is due and we would pay the interest each year.
Council recessed from 8:15 p.m. to 8:27 p.m.
Public Hearing - Presentation
ORDINANCE NO. 67-2000 "AMENDING THE PRELIMINARY PLAN FOR THE TRI-COUNTY COMMONS (PUD) FOR SEARS THE GREAT INDOORS"
Larry Bergman the group that is developing the former Kroger Warehouse And Distribution Center off Commons Drive introduced Daniel Wisk of the Sears Corporation, Lanie Wess from Wolpert Engineering, and Greg Davis from the architectural firm, .
We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to bring Sears to this property. Sears is a highly recognized name but the concept we are presenting is not.
Mr. Wisk said The Great Indoors is a new concept for Sears. Itís about two years old. The first store opened in a suburb of Denver about eighteen months ago. It doesnít say Sears anywhere on the building or the merchandise. You wonít find Craftsman, Die Hard, any of the familiar names in this building. The Great Indoors is a design center for the home. Itís a very high end concept. You will not find a lot of brands you will find in traditional department stores and home centers. We wonít carry a lot of the same products you will find in Home Depots or Loweís. You will find Viking, Thermador, Subzero. You will find high end décor items, paint, wallpaper. We offer a complete package to the customer. We opened our second location in Scotsdale, Arizona the end of last year. This would be one of our projected stores for 2001. While itís an aggressive roll out package for us, itís something we are very excited about. Mr. Wisk showed a video about Sears The Great Indoors.
Mr. Wisk said it is a totally new concept. You wonít find 10-15 of these in the greater Cincinnati market. You will find one, maybe two. We draw from a much larger range geographically. We have a specific targeted income customer. We feel that this is an ideal location.
Mr. Galster made a motion to adopt and Mr. Squires seconded.
Mr. Danbury said you mentioned that it is very upscale. What are the demographics you are trying to reach in income levels?
Mr. Wisk replied we are looking for household incomes of $75,000 and up.
Mr. Danbury asked what is your estimated reach of people?
Mr. Wisk answered the stores we currently have draw from a 25-35 mile radius.
Mr. Danbury asked how many employees?
Mr. Wisk responded on a given shift we could have 100-120 employees in the store. The total number of employees would probably be 300-400.
Mr. Danbury asked how many customers do you think you could have in the store during peak hours?
Mr. Wisk replied on a busy, busy Saturday we could probably have 400 customers in the store.
Mr. Danbury stated I am looking at the amount of traffic. I know Planning Commission has addressed this issue many times but Iím sure the infrastructure originally approved to accommodate Roberds will accommodate that. Is that correct?
Mr. Osborn said itís a little more complicated than that. We have to retain the traffic projections for Roberds because some time in the future something will occupy that space. The analysis was conducted for the reuse of the western end of the former warehouse facility. The new traffic volume for The Great Indoors was added to the existing numbers that we had. That did indicate that it was going to slightly exceed the capacity of the infrastructure as we had agreed between ourselves and the developer, SKA, that could be accommodated by the infrastructure being put in place at the time. We are tipping over that somewhat and in concession in recognition of this, we asked the City Engineerís Office to address ways to increase capacity at the Kemper Commons intersection which is the primary access point to this location. Those are being incorporated into our corridor improvements that weíre making in that area under Phase II of the Kemper Road project. The City will get $30,000 which is the estimated cost of the improvements associated with the increased volume. We have asked them to pay for the additional infrastructure improvements that will accommodate the growth in traffic as a result of this project. You are asking some very accurate questions in terms of getting to the issue. I think another is what is their average out the door ticket. Thatís what we look at. This is not a place that sells CDs, videos, etc. People who go there to shop are not going in to make a $5 purchase so you wonít have the number of people that you have at a Wal-Mart or something of that nature. From the Administrationís view point, the impact this would have on traffic is far less severe than it could be under normal general retail operations. On top of that the developer has agreed to certain improvements that would offset the difference in traffic volume.
Mr. Wisk said the average customer visit is for hours as opposed to twenty minutes. The lady on the video who redid her kitchen was not atypical of our customer. During the first week of operation in the Denver store we sold an $80,000 kitchen remodel. Thatís what happens in our store. People arenít coming in and buying a handful of towels and running back to the car. Thatís what weíre all about and the customer we are looking for.
Mr. Danbury said thatís what I was looking at. We had this discussion before when we were looking at development. It could have been trucking, high end bargain barn, etc. If your targeted customer is $75,000 that is limited. This would be a good fit for it from what Iíve seen.
Mr. Wilson said this is obviously not a cash and carry. I saw some soft line goods there such as towels but I assume it will not be a cash and carry.
Mr. Wisk replied that is not the primary thrust of the business. Basically, the take with business comprises about 20% of the sales. Itís definitely not the dominant portion of our business. When you walk the perimeter of our store, itís major items. Itís bathtubs, faucets, sinks, major appliances, durable good items that the customer is going to think about, have delivered and hopefully put on their Sears card.
Mr. Wilson asked will you be warehousing these hardline items?
Mr. Wisk replied all the major appliances will be warehoused in existing Sears warehouse facilities. One of the reasons we can do what we do with The Great Indoors is that we have a great infrastructure with product delivery and logistics. We will warehouse some products here but itís mostly towels, table lamps, etc.
Mr. Vanover said traffic was a big issue for me and I was the Council member of Planning that deemed this a change and I felt we did need to take a hard look at what we had there. I think this does fit into the plan and itís a whole lot nicer than some other possibilities. I did think we needed to take a hard look at traffic flow. I think with our City Engineer looking at some of the changes I can quell those within myself so I would have no problem supporting this.
Mr. Danbury said we take a lot of pride in that this is Springdale, not Tri-County. Is this going to be known as Springdale?
Mr. Wisk replied this is definitely Springdale.
Ms. Pollitt asked will this new store impact the current store at the mall?
Mr. Wisk said it will probably have a minimal impact on our appliances or hardline items but we found that 75-80% of the customers of The Great Indoor stores open now are not Sears customers. In our appliance section the big brands are Whirlpool and Kenmore at full-line stores. At The Great Indoors we donít carry the standard Kenmore brand. We carry Kenmore Elite which is the high end, and then weíll carry Whirlpool, Maytag, Thermador, Subzero, etc. Weíll use a different customer.
Ordinance 67-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 69-2000 "AUTHORIZING CDS ASSOCIATES, INC. TO PROCEED WITH AN INTERCHANGE MODIFICATION STUDY FOR THE I-275/SR 4 INTERCHANGE AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY"
Mr. Vanover made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Osborn said the City has plans to make improvements to SR 4 north of I-275 in 2002/2003. Because the one change, the addition of a soutbound lane dedicated to interstate access could have an impact on the capacity of the interstate to accept that traffic, we are required by the Federal Highway Administration to do what is called an Interchange Modification Study. We have to predict the volume of traffic that the interchange will now have to accept as a result of this efficiency that we are creating in the local street system. If we drive the level of efficiency to the interstate lower than D or F, they may say you canít do this without certain modifications to the interchange itself. If we are going to build an additional lane southbound to dedicate access directly to the interstate we have to have their permission and cooperation. The first step is to do this analysis because it also involves improvements that we are working with Fairfield on that will be in the intersection itself at Crescentville and a part of Fairfield north of the intersection. We approached Fairfield to see if they would partner with us in doing this analysis and they agreed to pay 50% of the cost. I believe the cost of the project is $30,500. There is a letter included in your packet confirming that the City of Fairfield has committed to accepting 50% of the cost on a reimbursement basis so our net cost will be $15,250.
Mr. Galster said in the past we have talked about the situation with Glensprings, Rt. 4 and getting onto the interstate from that side as well for eastbound traffic. I guess this will incorporate that as well.
Mr. Osborn replied we would look into it if directed to. That is one potential we could look into but I think we already have some indication from them on what they want us to do. When we looked at this idea about a continuous northbound access to the interstate eastbound, they told us we needed to make certain ramp improvements on the eastbound exist ramp from I-275, so Don might want to elaborate on that.
Mr. Shvegzda said we did do an interchange modification study but as part of that whole study the requirement to mitigate certain issues was to provide a double left from the eastbound off ramp to northbound SR 4. I know there was an initial construction cost estimate that was considerable so that was put on the back burner.
Mr. Osborn stated the cost estimate for the northbound improvements plus the interchange improvements plus the improvements we were talking about on southbound Rt.4 at Glensprings was going to come in at just over $1 million. They were not promising us any funding on that. In fact, they were saying if you are going to make this change locally, you will also have to make an interchange modification and the cost estimate for that was $1 million. Itís still on the capital budget and we are taking it more incrementally now. Weíre trying to find funding to fill in that ditch and address that southbound issue independently of the rest of this.
Mr. Galster said in general, if weíve made changes to the interchange from southbound Rt. 4, itís possible that they may say we also need to make changes or a double left to northbound Rt. 4 heading east anyway. I just wanted to make sure that between the two different analyses weíve come up with, we are in a position to have all the data that is required, if in fact, on southbound Rt. 4 going to the west and east requires a modification to the eastbound I-275 exit ramp, maybe the northbound Rt. 4 onto eastbound makes a lot more sense. We just want to make sure the complete interchange is covered between the two projects that weíve done.
Mr. Osborn said right now they are looking only at the improvements related to the area north of I-275. Weíve done an earlier interchange modification study and what you are suggesting is that we need to make sure that the two are integrated; that the results from the first one are at least appreciated and reflected in the second one in the event we should go forward with these at some time in the future. Is that doable, Don?
Mr. Shvegzda replied yes, it would be nothing more than updating the redistribution of traffic, updating the traffic numbers to accommodate that. We already have approval of a model for the other part of the study.
Mr. Osborn said if you do both of these projects, is either one greater than either one individually?
Mr. Shvegzda said we will have to take a look at it, especially the continuous movement issue.
Mr. Osborn said I think your point is well made. As we approach this analysis we can have the Engineerís Office retain the analysis that we receive on the first modification study and have that reflected in the new document.
Mr. Vanover said I too would be interested, while we are doing this, to have at least a good determination of whatís doable and whatís necessary in that interchange. Also, hats off to Cecil and the Administration for getting Fairfield involved. I think thatís a big plus because, we are obviously very sensitive to other areas of intersections where we are being fed traffic from neighboring communities and governmental divisions so I think itís great to take it beyond our borders and look at the region because obviously there are more than Springdale residents who drive through that intersection at Rt. 4 and I-275.
Mr. Wilson said I would like to piggyback on what Steve and Tom have already stated about the continuous turn on northbound Rt. 4 onto eastbound I-275. I brought this up a couple of years ago and the Mayor thought it was a good idea and then it died in committee so to speak so Iím glad weíre looking at it again.
Mayor Webster stated it did not die in committee. It died of a lack of $1 million.
Mr. Wilson said we can now incorporate this into a total project and look at it in its totality. At some point we are going to have to do something with that intersection. If it turns out to be a five year project and we get the funding and piggyback on something else that weíre begging money for, letís hope it works.
Mrs. McNear said I would like to see them do something with Rt. 4/Ray Norrish/Crescentville. Itís the most dangerous intersection in our City. There are more accidents there than anyplace else in the City. I think probably half the people on our street have had accidents just sitting at that intersection. Perhaps to offset the cost we could start ticketing more people who run the light there every day and also the people who are doing U-turns on Rt. 4 as well. It is a very dangerous intersection and you truly take your life in your hands trying to make any turns off of Rt. 4. I would please caution the public to be very careful through that intersection. Donít run the lights and donít make U-turns on Rt. 4.
Mr. Knox asked Mr. Osborn, did you say the construction on this was going to be in 2002 and 2003?
Mr. Osborn replied right now we have budgeted for 2002 some modifications to northbound Rt. 4 at Crescentville Road which is essentially an additional right turn lane. The additional southbound lane we have for 2003. My hunch is given the process we have to go through, we will slide back, but for our five year budget those were scheduled for 2002 and 2003. I have to say quite honestly because of the funding process and doing this analysis on the front of this, it will probably be pushed back.
Mr. Knox said I asked the question because as I remember the major construction work on the SR 747 underpass is going to be in the same time frame. It being moved back would be a good thing.
Mr. Osborn said responding to your point about the intersection being a very dangerous intersection, it surely is. It is the highest volume intersection we have. It also has the greatest amount of back up. It has a very low level of service in terms of traffic capacity. While I think itís appropriate to look at what we may want to do south of the intersection in one analysis, I think we would be making a mistake to tie this together as one project. I think we have to keep those distinct and unique projects. The problem at the Glensprings area is nowhere as critical as the problems at Crescentville Road, particularly for Fairfield. Anyone coming south on Rt. 4 can truly appreciate that we just donít have enough capacity through that intersection for the line of traffic that needs access to the interstate. Thatís why I suggest that while we might show some efficiency here in looking at both at the same time in terms of our capacity analysis, we ought not think about linking this.
Mr. Danbury said when the study is done, we have discussed a few times the possibility of having pedestrian sidewalks. Is that being incorporated into this?
Mr. Osborn replied thatís not part of this analysis. The Engineerís Office has been asked to look into that topic but that is a separate and distinct issue. It is also dealing with pedestrian versus vehicular traffic and the capacity of the interstate system to accept the vehicular traffic. They really arenít in the same area.
Mr. Danbury said if they were to do a study and they were to possibly anticipate incorporating a future pedestrian walkway, could that be included in this? I understand they are two separate projects but if they are going to be recommending that we do these modifications to it and then they do that; and then we go back to the drawing board with this, we might have something.
Mr. Osborn responded this study is going to look at the idea of the additional lane. Right now we have one dedicated lane to the expressway. This is going to take this second lane and look at what the impact is from the second lane so we have the outside most lane dedicated to westbound access and the second lane is dedicated to eastbound access. What the Federal Highway Administration wants to know is how is that going to affect traffic on the interstate. I appreciate your point about the bridge being in the same physical area. I know for a fact that the study wonít touch on that and frankly, I think it would slow everything down on both sides of the issues to try to link those two. I donít think the parameters of what we are trying to do here in terms of physical improvements are going to change dramatically. We pretty well know what we want to do. The pedestrian bridge is not going to be dramatically impacted by what we want to do with the highway system. What the Feds would talk to us about doing is widening ramps or adding additional lanes to the expressway or say we canít do it because they donít have the capacity on the interstate and donít see anyway to increase the capacity. But I donít think it will have any direct relationship to the pedestrian access. I believe the projects will be unique because of the funding sources. Weíd probably be looking at an enhancement program process for the pedestrian and some other metro type funding for the highway system.
Mr. Shvegzda said right now we are looking at locations where the pedestrian bridge could be accommodated and cost estimates for that. And we are essentially looking at the span of that bridge to accommodate the additional southbound lanes. We are addressing that as part of this particular study.
Mayor Webster said I think Cecil did a pretty good job explaining it but the study is assuming that weíve already built the second southbound lane so itís going to pick up the impact of where our expansion is going to end, where that stops and what the impact is on downstream of traffic east or west; but it has nothing to do with pedestrian traffic or the northbound traffic and continuous movement out of Glensprings and that area.
Mr. Galster said even though they are totally separate it doesnít mean we canít pull the traffic numbers off of this study to use when we are looking at the pedestrian bridge issue. There is still information to be gained from here that we can possibly use on other projects.
Ordinance 69-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
ORDINANCE NO. 70-2000 "AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO FILE A DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION (DARE) GRANTS PROGRAM APPLICATION AND TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, BETTY MONTGOMERY, TO CONTINUE A DARE PROGRAM"
Mr. Galster made a motion to adopt and Mr. Vanover seconded.
Ordinance 70-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
RESOLUTION R15-2000 "AUTHORIZING THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR TO FILE AN APPLICATION WITH THE OHIO PUBLIC WORKS COMMISSION FOR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (LTIP) FUNDS AND AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR AND CLERK OF COUNCIL/FINANCE DIRECTOR TO EXECUTE ALL CONTRACTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS"
Ms. Pollitt made a motion to adopt and Mr. Wilson seconded.
Mr. Osborn said when we started looking at the Municipal Road Fund and the SCIP application for the upcoming year we found that there was a gap in the Cityís capital budget in terms of major projects. We are just now this year getting the funding for Phase I of the East Kemper Road project. We will be going after the next phase with the 2001 application. We didnít have anything in the pipeline for this coming funding cycle so we looked at what we could do such as taking a smaller piece of another project and bringing that forward. One that we discussed was improvements to Sharon Road. We do have our capital budget improvements to the SR 4 corridor south of Northland Boulevard. One of the critical points in any improvement like that is the intersections. We already have a problem there and we have been having discussions with Glendale over the last several years over alignment issues, signal issues, etc. We have partnered up with Glendale and looked at that intersection. We have tried to approve alignment through the intersection and at the same time make other changes that will be necessary in the future to accommodate a widening of the road to three lanes as weíve projected through the southern part of Springdale. In terms of the funding process we had overall project costs of $158,500 for these improvements as you can see. Itís a minor project in the sense of cost, but at the same time, neither Springdale nor Glendale had any money programmed in our capital budgets for this project in 2001. We have proposed to go after total outside funding. We have applied for 50% of the cost through the Municipal Road Fund which would count as our local match and right now this evening we need consent to apply for the other 50% through LTIP. Effectively what would happen here is we would bear the cost for the design of the improvement and we would also need some minor right-of-way easements and work easements. If this application process is successful, construction costs would be shared between the Municipal Road Fund and LTIP. Again, this is not a major project so if we failed to get funded itís not a major impact to us, but at the same time we have an opportunity here where we werenít competing with other big projects, so we thought we would take this smaller project and move it forward. Some of the things that this project will accomplish are listed in the attachment to your legislative update. Itís a memo from the Assistant City Engineer and some of the principal things theyíll do is improve the north/south alignment, the intersection for southbound traffic, fill in that ditch at the southwest corner of the intersection, improve the turning radius for southbound to westbound. Right now Metro busses physically cannot make that turn without going over into oncoming traffic. Itís too acute of an angle. We need to pull that point back in if you will. This project will accommodate those right hand turns. At the same time we would be putting in the new curb that would be necessary at some future date when that road is expanded, so effectively trying to finish the project off at its southern terminus with Sharon Road. We have had some discussions already with Springdale Family Medicine who are the occupants on the corner there. We worked out issues with them regarding the protection of their parking fields, etc. Weíve done about as much preliminary work as we feel we can or should do at this point and we thought weíd make a run at the application process and see if we can get funding.
Resolution R15-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
RESOLUTION R16-2000 "PLEDGING COOPERATION WITH THE VILLAGE OF GLENDALE FOR THE SHARON ROAD/STATE ROUTE 4 INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT"
Mr. Squires made a motion to adopt and Mr. Vanover seconded.
Mr. Osborn said as it says in the second Whereas this is a prerequisite for a joint application under the SCIP. The Ohio Public Works Commission makes this mandatory where two communities are filing a joint application. Prior to the application we pledge our cooperation and the other major feature of this resolution is the statement that Springdale will serve as the lead agency for this project.
Resolution R16-2000 passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mr. Vanover asked Mr. Shvegzda, have we gotten any timetable on the street resurface portion of the project in Heritage Hill?
Mr. Shvegzda replied I will double check on a finite date. They indicated that it would be the middle of September for the final asphalt overlay. They are getting all the streets ready and will do them all at the same time.
Ms. Pollitt said the newsstand corrals look very nice.
Mr. Schneider said Michael Laage, Chief of Police of the City of Springdale, has been sued relative to the concealed weapons litigation that all Chiefs Of Police and the County Prosecutor have been sued to try to eliminate the control on concealed weapons. We will be defending and Mike Allen, the County Prosecutor has agreed to head the defense for all the communities because, in essence, itís the same defense. Weíll be discussing that with him and Iíd like Councilís consent that he participate with us and have a motion to that effect if you would do that.
Mr. Galster made a motion that Council agree that Mike Allen, the County Prosecutor be the lead counsel for the City along with his prosecutorís duties. Mr. Vanover seconded. The motion passed with seven affirmative votes.
Mr. Vanover said there is a lot of press on the running of red lights at intersections. Itís nothing new. SR 747 and Crescentville Road, and SR 4 and Crescentville Road are the two monsters that come to mind but I would be curious if we have had any dialog in that area.
Mr. Osborn responded as most police departments do, we run specific patrols that try to deal with that red light running, particularly on left turns. At SR 747 and Kemper, there is frequently a detail there involving 2-3 police vehicles and more. Weíll have a spotter at the intersection and chase cars that pick up the people identified as running the light. Obviously you canít do that on a continuous basis. In some parts of the country they are taking photos of the intersection on a constant basis in identifying the violators through the use of those photos. I believe in some states itís a civil process rather than a criminal process where the people are cited and brought to court. This same process is being evaluated here in Ohio. In fact, we are already collecting data to try to see if we canít do that here in Springdale. The reason it gets a little more complicated is that we have a CATV system that we use for monitoring major intersections for traffic purpose. We have another interest in trying to monitor these same major routes for security purposes. Someone robs a bank and we know itís between 2:35 and 2:38 in the morning. We go back and look at the video of the cars passing the intersection at that time and we can expand the picture close enough to get the ID of the car, license plate number, etc. The third is the traffic issue related to turning movements. We found that one system wonít do all three of these. We are looking at an analysis of how do we accommodate all three of these interests with the least amount of equipment at the lowest cost. This is in the study stage. I canít give you anymore than that. Mr. Saleh, the Traffic Engineer, is gathering information. Chief Laage is looking at it also. We understand this is already being done in some northern communities in Ohio. We believe they are probably citing on a civil basis so we are looking into that. I would hope that in the 2001 budget process we will be presenting you some proposals relating to this topic.
Mrs. McNear asked if you cite someone to civil court for a car that ran a red light, do you cite the owner of vehicle?
Mr. Osborn replied yes, you would cite the owner of the vehicle, not the occupant.
Mr. Osborn stated the Public Works Department held a bid opening for salt for the upcoming year 2001. The low bidder was Cargill at $28.71 a ton dumped and $30.71 piled. This is a fairly steep increase. We are going up $2.45 a ton dumped and $3.04 a ton piled. We do believe based on the market results we are seeing in other communities, that this is a fair price and in this case it is the lower of two bids. We request that City Council consider an ordinance at the next meeting awarding the contract to Cargill.
Mr. Parham said Mr. Wilson spoke about the police officer, Kevin Crayonís funeral. The City of Cincinnati has assigned an officer to Mr. Crayonís family members here in Springdale. The Springdale Police Department has also assigned an officer to assist the City of Cincinnati as well as the family. That officer is Lieutenant Tom Wells. Lieutenant Wells stopped by my office yesterday to extend an invitation to any of the elected officials who would like to attend the services for Officer Crayon. The services will begin on Thursday, September 7 at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church located on Wayne Avenue. The procession will follow to Oak Hills Cemetery in Springdale. They are expecting around 1,000 police officers from the surrounding region to be in attendance and they want to extend that offer to elected officials as well.
MEETINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Planning Commission - September 12
Board of Health - September 14
Board of Zoning Appeals - September 19
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
RECAP OF LEGISLATIVE ITEMS REQUESTED
Ordinance awarding salt contract to Cargill - September 16
Council adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Kathy McNear, President of Council