Funding request to fight Whitehall flooding flowing through Cong

Whitehall Mayor Lynn Ochsendorf brought good news to the July 17 City Council meeting.  

She received notification from Congressman David Hobson’s office July 13 that the proposed appropriation for continuing work on the Mason/Turkey Run storm water mitigation project has passed from the congressman’s committee, and was progressing to be reviewed by the full House.   

"Given past experience, this leads to a strong possibility that some significant appropriations could be a part of the next annual federal budget," Ochsendorf reported.

She further explained that the lobbying efforts, supported by Miles Hebert of the city’s consulting engineering firm EMH&T, could provide for as much as $800,000 through the "206 Program" to investigate upstream detention alternatives.  

That would allow Whitehall to continue spearheading discussions with the city of Columbus, Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA), Veteran’s Administration and Defense Supply Center Columbus about finding and developing alternatives to generate the 150 acres of detention needed to significantly reduce downstream flooding south of Broad Street.

The "206 Program" requires no local matching funds.  The appropriation was estimated to provide for the total cost of an engineered solution that could be implemented by the interested parties, using potential future federal grants, possible funds through CRR expansion, or local match such as Tax Increment Financing dollars generated by Whitehall’s Incentive District TIFs.  It will likely be distributed through the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Though a final decision is months away, we anticipate EMH&T shall pursue alternatives with the leadership of the Army Corps District Office to see if we can initiate work in the interim," the mayor added.  "If successful, Congressman Hobson’s office will facilitate our efforts to bring the parties together to discuss ways of solving this problem while facilitating the continuing economic growth of upstream neighbors."

In other business, Development Director Matt Shad announced that he has accepted the position of deputy city manager-economic development for the City of Upper Arlington, beginning August 1.  

Shad has been at his Whitehall job since October, 2004.  He thanked the mayor for her faith in his abilities when hired.  

He offered, "On countless occasions she has stated how highly she regarded my work ethic and that I worked for nothing less than the community’s best interest in all that I did.  I appreciate her compassion for this city’s residents.  I have valued her openness to consider a myriad of new ideas and partnerships that the city has pursued during my tenure.  I also wish to thank city council for your enthusiasm on several of the initiatives I requested you embark upon.  You entrusted much in me, and I hope you feel these initiatives began to build a community you wish to be proud of."

Shad also noted that there is still much work to do.  There are projects that are about to come to fruition, and Shad will be seeing them through even after he vacates the job.  He said that it is his hope that the administration and council continue to strive for nothing but the best for Whitehall.  

"And when you go home each night, may you be able to say, as I have on many occasion, ‘I made Whitehall a better place,’" concluded Shad.

Curb service

Service Director Ray Ogden announced that because the city was able to get their bid in early on the Country Club Road curb and gutter project, another street will be added.  

Beginning July 23 work will begin to complete half of Winslow and all of Vanderbilt and Duke, and work will take about two weeks.

Councilman Mike Shannon shared that he has had several calls of concern, particularly from the Whitehall Historical Society about recent comments from Council members Cindy Stewart and Zach Woodruff.  

A few weeks ago they said that the city should consider selling Whitehall Community Park in 2012, which is the year all stipulations will be lifted from Rockwell, who donated the park to the city.  

Over the past several years, the society has worked to obtain and re-assemble an historic Lustron Home, which is partially completed.  The structure is to be their future home, as well as a museum.  It is on leased park land at Community Park.  Whitehall residents have also donated about $20,000 to the project.

Woodruff was absent from the meeting.  But when Stewart was asked if she had thoughts on the future of the historical society headquarters, Stewart responded that she really had not thought too much about it.  

She said that she would not expect them to just pick up and move without some kind of financial help, even though she had no idea where that would come from.  The councilwoman also said that she didn’t know too much about what all was involved in that project or the society’s cost.  

She noted that she uses the park facilities twice each week, and knows many other organizations also meet there.  

Council is hoping to eventually locate the park’s hub on Country Club Road at the Army Reserve building, which will not be vacated until 2009.  

"I just don’t see how we will be able to continue to financially support both properties, but I won’t be here (council) then anyway," said Stewart.

Council passed an ordinance that will abolish the position of deputy police chief upon his vacating the job.  Ralph Huntzinger originally announced that he would be retiring June 30, but has since changed his mind.  The original ordinance had been tabled repeatedly since the spring to reflect the June 30 date.  It was amended in accordance with whenever he vacates.

The next council meeting will be August 7 at 7:30 p.m.

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