By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester City Council’s second informal town hall meeting on Jan. 14 was a potpourri of interests and concerns discussed by residents filling the Frances Steube Community Center.
From the opioid crisis and the use of social media as a conduit for communication to the city’s proposed purchase of the former McDorman auto museum as a government complex, the nearly three-hour session found council members and city officials fielding a variety of questions.
As expected, the $2.4 million purchase of the McDorman site prompted comments by residents and explanations by Finance Director Amanda Jackson and Development Director Lucas Haire.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff on our plate right now,” said Jim Bowlein as he detailed a list of city projects including McGill Park, the bike path, Gender Road improvements and the Waterloo site. “I don’t want to see us lose some of the city services (snow removal, leaf pick-up) we have right now. Can we afford this?”
Jackson said Canal Winchester would not be in serious discussions regarding the complex if the city could not afford the purchase with general fund revenue.
“We knew we needed this in the future, so we planned for this,” said Jackson during her remarks. She said a $10.5 million carryover into 2020 is a direct result of conservative planning in anticipation of future projects. “We build these types of things into the budget because we plan for it.”
Business owner Mark Savino said when the building first became available, he wondered who would buy it and was happy to learn the city was interested.
“When I heard the city was going to buy it, I thought it was a neat idea,” said Savino, who owns and operates the Wigwam restaurant. “It’s really important to keep city functions close. It’s ridiculous to let that building just sit there…In my opinion, it’s a good idea.”
If the city ends up purchasing the McDorman building, Canal Winchester Art Guild President Connie Struill volunteered to provide artwork of guild members to hang on the walls throughout the complex.
Other topics of discussion
•Long-time resident Nancy Diley-Smith volunteered her expertise in the substance abuse and treatment field wherever it might be needed within Canal Winchester.
“I believe the community has a problem with substance abuse,” Diley-Smith said. “It affects everyone. I have decided to assist and pay it forward.”
Councilman Pat Lynch told Diley-Smith her service would be helpful working on the “front lines” with local law enforcement and the school district. He said substance abuse is something that needs to be addressed.
•Representing shops in the downtown business district, Jackie Marion commented on trash, motorists running red lights endangering pedestrians and parking by workers taking up two-hour spots instead of parking in flat lots further away.
“It’s hard on the businesses,” Marion said. “They rely on parking spaces for customers. This is a charming town, but it also has to be safe downtown.”
Councilman Mike Coolman told Marion the city previously conducted speed studies, but in order to make more of an impact, speeders need to feel the consequences of their actions “in their wallet.”
•According to resident Katy Santore, technology has become a large part of daily life within communities. She suggested council consider more engagement in social media as a way to reach out to the public.
“I think it would be nice to have a council ‘hub’ in an official capacity,” said Santore.”
Councilman Will Bennett felt Santore’s suggestion was a topic that should be further explored.