By Dedra Cordle
Hundreds of residents on the westside came out to the polls on Oct. 7 to cast their vote for who they wanted to represent them on the Greater Hilltop Area Commission. They will have to wait until next month to learn if their favored candidate has received enough votes to sit on the local advisory board to the city of Columbus.
There were seven candidates who were vying for the four open seats on the commission:
- Nick Bates
- Jason Cornell
- Jennie Keplar
- Ricky Kitchen
- Keith Neal
- Terry Roofe
- Dean Smith
With the exception of the incumbent Keplar, all of the candidates would have been new to the area commission if they had received enough votes during the October election.
One of the candidates, Terry Roofe, is contesting the results of the election due to the misspelling of his last name on the official ballot. It did not include the ‘e’ in Roofe.
According to Leah Brudno, chair of the government and legislation committee, the commission immediately reached out to the city attorney’s office for advice on how to handle the challenge to the election.
“We have (received) a decision from them, but I’ve been advised that the full commission will need to vote to accept that counsel and certify the election,” she said in an email.
Brudno added that the commission will not announce the results of the election until they can convene next month.
The full commission meeting is typically held on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbus Metropolitan Library – Hilltop Branch, 511 S. Hague Avenue. Because the general election is taking place on Nov. 7, they will meet the following Tuesday at the same time and location.
In other news, the full commission met on Oct. 3 where they discussed the conditions at two neighborhood parks. According to James White, chair of the recreation and parks committee, there has been an influx of trash at Holton and Glenview Parks. He attributed most of the increase of litter due to the number of camps that have been established there by the area’s unhoused population.
“The city has managed to evict and clean up one, but it looked like someone has taken a dump truck and just dumped trash in the park,” he said.
White said that while he has compassion for the unhoused population, he believes they are creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions for fellow unhoused individuals, park visitors, and the wildlife.
“I get that it’s a struggle,” he said, “but if you are bringing in so much trash and creating an environment that is unsafe for you, anybody else, or the wildlife in the area, it is an issue.”
White added that the committee has been in contact with members of the Columbus City Council’s recreation and parks committee. He said there are plans to meet early next year to discuss solutions to “manage what is going on in our parks” in regard to the uptick in unhoused people who are using the neighborhood parks for their shelter.
Also discussed at the meeting were plans by the Columbus Division of Fire to burn a vacant home located at 1125 Georgesville Road. According to firefighter Steve Siegwardt, the planned burn will take place “sometime in early November” and it will be a one-day burn event.
“We will have several evolutions throughout the day (for training purposes) and we will try to wrap it up before rush hour,” he said.
Siegwardt said there is ample parking space for the fire trucks, ladders, and other vehicles at this location so they do not believe they will have to restrict lane usage along Georgesville Road or Hall Road. However, he added those plans could change and advised motorists that there could be traffic slowdowns as individuals drive past the site and see the controlled burn taking place.
“It could slow traffic down just because these guys are so awesome when they work that everybody wants to watch,” he said.
Siegwardt said the house has been cleaned and cleared of any potential hazardous materials and the division will be using Class A material such as straw and wood to conduct the burn evolutions.
“We are not bringing in anything to the party that is going to be dangerous or put off some really nasty things for the neighborhood.”
He added that the owner of the property will have a demolition company come out to clear the debris but mentioned that it will have to sit vacant for at least three days before the material can be hauled off the lot.
“The Environmental Protection Agency has a mandatory three-day wait period after a burn before anything can go to the dump,” said Siegwardt. “It will be a small eyesore there for a few days and then the demo company will come in and fill the hole.”
The live burn next month will mark the first time the division has been able to hold a controlled fire training exercise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100 firefighters from the division and local departments such as Franklin and Prairie Township will be on site for the training exercise. The location will be monitored throughout the night in case a fire breaks out after the training is complete.