A West Jefferson resident at the Sept. 2 council meeting voiced apprehension to the village’s proposed plan to lease land from the state near the Little Darby River.
As detailed by Parks and Recreation Director Jack McDowell at the Aug. 18 council meeting, the village would maintain and manage an area of land near the river and provide mowed hiking trails, canoe and kayak access, study areas, and a place for special events. The area also would require a parking lot nearby to access the lot.
Resident Mike Bobo said, “There’s already a lot of activity back there involving kids.” He wonders if increased accessibility will also increase the amount of “instances” in the area.
Bobo also worries that traffic will pick up in the vicinity.
“City guys are accustomed to going in and out (of the village) without slowing down,” he said, who fears for pedestrians walking to the reserve.
In response, McDowell offered that the lease would include an agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to allow local law enforcement to patrol the land. Currently, the village is not authorized to police the plot as it belongs to the county.
Council President Darlene Steele and Vice President Ron Garver want a cost analysis relating to the construction of a parking lot and a more definite plan for police protection before considering the agreement further.
Downtown Steering Committee
Steele announced that the Downtown Steering Committee is making progress.
The committee has inherited the task of coming up with a vision for downtown West Jefferson. The group must decide which aspect the village should most obviously reflect, such as its historic side versus its modern look.
Steele said the committee may subdivide into smaller committees as the project progresses. A public meeting might be held to absorb input from village residents.
While the steering committee makes strides toward improving the look of downtown West Jefferson, the idea of a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) continues to fade.
“We’ve been in the same rut for the last year,” said Steele.
Mayor Scott Hockenbery said that some of the parties involved in getting the CIC started advised the village to hire someone to help decide how it expects to benefit from a CIC.