Property maintenance code debated again in Prairie Township

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Residents in Prairie Township voiced frustration about not having a property maintenance code. The issue was discussed at a recent board meeting.

“One property has trash, cars, gutters hanging down and there are worries of someone getting hurt,” said Roger Spencer, township resident.

Trustee Steve Kennedy said nothing can be done because they must follow the Ohio Revised Code. However, Trustee Cathy Schmelzer said she disagrees and believes more could be done.

“I want to get things cleaned up,” Schmelzer said. “However, I can only do so much with one vote as a trustee.”

Trustee Doug Stormont believes it should be on the ballot for residents to vote on, while Kennedy does not think the township should have one.

“I personally don’t believe in having a property maintenance code,” Kennedy said. “Governments should not have a say in how homes are kept or in people’s lives. The vote went to the residents 15 years ago and it was voted down.”

Kennedy added that the zoning department costs the township approximately $400,000 per year and if there was a property maintenance code implemented, the zoning department’s budget would need increased to manage the increased flow.

“The aging population is big in the township and if it is implemented, can the aging homeowners be able to have the work done,” Kennedy questioned.

In other news, residents expressed concerns about the city of Columbus hoping to build a recreation center on the westside that could be seen as competition to the township’s community center.

At a recent Westland Area Commission meeting, the need for a recreation center on the westside dominated the conversation.

Commissioner Janet Cahill said she spoke to city council members regarding the lack of parks and recreation on the westside of Columbus. According to Cahill, in their conversation, a council member had referred to the westside as a recreation desert.

According to commissioners, a recreation center would offer families services in their own community. There are not many parks on the westside easily accessible by foot or by bike. The community wants to keep their kids off the streets and engaged in different activities close to home.

While residents in Prairie Township agree there is a need, they worry about the impact this proposed center could have on the Prairie Township Community Center, which is also on the westside and attracts most of their membership from Columbus and other surrounding communities.

“What impact could the building of this center have on our community center,” asked resident Joe Meyer.

Leadership said they are not focused on this as no center is currently in the works. Instead, officials want to focus on continuing to increase membership and getting visitors back to center. The center currently has over 5,400 members, with more than 70 percent being non-residents. They are also averaging approximately 130 new membership or renews a month and have a 98 percent retention rate.

Some of the successful programming they have offered includes group fitness classes, basketball, pickleball, soccer camp, swim lessons, flag football camp, t-ball and the farmer’s market.

The board also discussed allowing cameras at the Galloway Road Sports Complex baseball fields. According to Prairie Township Administrator Rob Peters, these cameras will allow parents to watch the games if they were not able to be there.

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