Will Maumee Median Extension Improve Both Safety And Speed?
To the Editor:
On the subject of the 364 feet of median extension on Conant Street near the bridge, there are two issues of interest. No. 1: Will it add safety to the pedestrians along Conant Street? No. 2: Will it curtail motorist speeding?
Concerning the pedestrians, the lengthening of the median to extend the single lane of traffic and extending the 25-mph restriction will likely increase safety to the pedestrians walking on the sidewalk in the area of the affected roadway. That is a distinct possibility.
Concerning the speeding motorists, the lengthening of the median will have no effect on their actions. In actuality, it may contribute to their actions. In the traffic-engineering field, a designer considers alternatives that can be incorporated into a design that will best address the situations presented for review. In that respect, there are conditions that can be controlled and those that cannot be controlled or altered. You have to concentrate on the controllable factors to decide on a design that is most capable of addressing the issues at hand.
To be completely transparent, pushing the end of the median 364 feet closer to the bridge only serves to delay the reckless actions of the speeding motorist by 10 seconds if he/she is traveling at the posted 25 mph through the single-lane section of Conant Street. The motorist’s mindset, in this situation, is one of the non-controllable factors for the designer to consider. The lengthening of the median also shortens the available two-lane section of roadway for the motorist to race toward the Perrysburg traffic signal at Front Street. That shortening of the roadway length encourages the motorist to speed even faster to accomplish their goal before reaching the Perrysburg traffic light.
Some travelers are frustrated with the congestion through uptown Maumee during rush hour traffic. That contributes to their driving demeanor. Once they see an opportunity to break away and take greater control of their driving, they grasp the chance and run with it.
So, will the median extension solve both issues? No. Will it address the pedestrian safety issue for the subject 364 feet by reducing speed in that area? There is a distinct possibility of that, but it will not have any positive effect on the overall speeding issue. It will only postpone it by 10 seconds until the end of the new extended median has been reached.
AW Teachers Support Levy Campaign
To the Editor:
As a proud community member, I’m writing to express my support for the upcoming Anthony Wayne school district levy. My name is Carla Rygalski, and I serve as the union co-president alongside Ryan Shiverdecker. With strong ties to the district as an 18-year teaching veteran, a parent of children attending Waterville Primary and the junior high, and an AW graduate, I am invested in the success of our school district.
Like many others in our community, I was saddened by the levy’s failure in November. We teachers want Anthony Wayne to continue to thrive and to be one of the highest-rated districts in the state, but we need help. I am proud to share that our district’s teachers have taken steps to support the upcoming March levy.
Anthony Wayne teachers have collectively contributed $2,714 to be donated to the levy campaign. This shows the importance our district’s teachers put on education and their dedication to the success of our schools.
As we look ahead to the March levy, we need the support of our community to help us maintain the excellent education and services our students deserve. I hope our community takes the time to educate themselves on why the district needs this levy to pass and the ramifications if it does not. Please join us AW teachers in showing your support for our students, staff and community.
Anthony Wayne Local School District
Infrastructure Projects Appreciated
To the Editor:
I have been very concerned about the status of America’s infrastructure for years. I therefore sought information from the Maumee City Council on the origin of the federal funding for streets and specifically whether any of the federal legislation from 2021 spurred any of the street and highway projects in Maumee.
The Mayor’s Message in the Fall Maumee Newsletter and the letter by Gabe Barrow to The Mirror editor on November 23 were helpful in learning the reasons for much of the repairs.
In response to my questions, Patrick Burtch, Maumee city administrator, substantively described the multiple sources of funding for ongoing projects. Mr. Burtch indicated that some federal funding did come from HR 3684, the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in 2021. Prior to this legislation, to my knowledge, there had been no federal legislation to repair aging infrastructure for many years. These grants and the legislation that brought them are remarkable in the positive result they have had on providing funds to make our highways and infrastructure safer. I believe public acknowledgment is important.
I applaud other aspects of Mr. Barrow’s letter in which he voiced support for high standards in both rental properties and new building structures. As a community, we need safe conditions for all our neighbors, or our community as a whole cannot thrive.
Summarily, I wish to express my appreciation for the investment in Maumee’s future by various levels of government, particularly that coming from targeted infrastructure legislation. I appreciate the many laborers we all see working around the city to complete the construction as quickly as possible.
Ruth Frances (Fran) Board, RN, Ph.D.
Wreaths Honor Departed Veterans
To the Editor:
Maumee Honoring Military Veterans (www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/OH0283) will honor and remember the deceased veterans interred at St. Joseph’s and Riverside Cemeteries on Saturday, December 16.
An opening ceremony will be held at Side Cut Metropark in the Maumee Rotary Pavilion located at 1025 W. River Rd. It will begin with a flyover by the 180th Fighter Wing at 11:00 a.m. with wreath placement to follow the ceremony at approximately noon.
Speakers at this year’s opening event will include Dennis Addis, coordinator of Maumee Honoring Military Veterans; Master Sgt. Justin Askins, U.S. Airforce; Maumee Mayor Richard Carr; and Deacon Joe Malenfant of Maumee St Joseph’s Parish. The Maumee American Legion Post 320 will provide an honor guard.
The public is invited to participate in the ceremony and placement of wreaths to honor and remember fallen heroes.
Maumee Honoring Military Veterans is appreciative of the many wreath sponsorships that honor over 900 deceased military veterans at St Joseph’s and Riverside cemeteries. There will be 4,000 such events held nationwide, honoring nearly 3 million deceased veterans.
Those interested in helping to continue to honor and remember fallen heroes can sponsor wreaths in two ways:
By credit card through the Maumee Honoring Military Veterans (OH0283) group page at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/OH0283. Wreaths Across America will match a third wreath for each two wreaths sponsored. (Note: We do not receive this match if you sponsor through St Joseph’s or Riverside’s location page.)
If you prefer to write a check, please make it payable to Wreaths Across America (WAA) Group OH0283. Mail to Wreaths Across America (WAA), c/o Dennis Addis, 10429 Bailey Rd., Waterville, OH 43566.
Thank you for participating and supporting Maumee Honoring Military Veterans and Wreaths Across America.
Chief Urges Yes On Fire/EMS Levy
To the Editor:
As your fire chief, I have had the honor and privilege these past eight years to lead the hardworking and extremely dedicated men and women of your Maumee Fire Division. I have been fortunate to serve the Maumee community for over 26 years, starting out here as volunteer firefighter/EMT. Like many of my fellow firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, I was mentored by many of Maumee’s finest, now-retired firefighters, paramedics, officers and chiefs.
Our fire division’s 185-year history grew from a strong community of families and citizens who tirelessly served our beautiful city. The passion and compassion of our employees, both full time and volunteer, has never wavered.
However, what has changed is how many people we have, and don’t have, to take care of our community effectively and efficiently. This problem is not just a Maumee problem; it is statewide and nationwide. There are fewer volunteer firefighters because older firefighters are retiring (or have retired), and younger generations have not been able to meet our demand. Family dynamics alone are a significant factor. Busy parents with busy children, coupled with full-time work demands, all limit people’s ability to serve.
Simply add our city growth (our calls have increased over 40 percent in the past 10 years alone), and we are unable to keep up without forcing our people to work overtime or continually ask them to be available to work shifts. Our job alone has changed significantly. Our firefighters, EMTs and paramedics must continually train more to maintain certifications, attend continuing education and stay current on many topics, whether it’s a new piece of medical equipment, hazardous materials or new vehicle rescue techniques, to name a few.
The bottom line: Time is precious to all of us. We have expected all our firefighters to choose between their families and their full-time jobs, or to drop everything they’re doing, at a moment’s notice, and respond to the fire station. Then they must immediately get on an ambulance or a fire truck and quickly get to the emergency, all the while having no idea what time they may even make it back home or back to work.
My wife Michele and I have been blessed to work and live in the community we serve. We have been grateful to have raised our children in Maumee and in Maumee City Schools. I personally have lived in Maumee almost 40 years, and like everyone, I have seen our city grow and have seen the challenges from this growth. I, too, take great pride in our Maumee community, especially in our emergency services.
But our fire and EMS services are busier than ever and more strained than ever. I can assure you a tremendous amount of consideration and conversation took place ahead of putting this proposal on the ballot again. Your city leadership wanted to make sure this levy is warranted and justified. We believe it is, and it is my hope you continue your support of your Maumee Fire Division, so we can be there for you and your family.
On Tuesday, November 7, you will have an opportunity to vote for the Maumee Fire/EMS Levy. The money collected from this levy, if passed, can only be used for fire and EMS expenses, including personnel. And this is what is needed: personnel to be ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond and help our residents, our community and our families. Public safety affects all of us equally, as we never know when we’ll need it.
I thank you for your consideration of a favorable vote.
Fire Chief, City of Maumee
Property Tax Levy Not Equitable
To the Editor:
This past May, Maumee voters said “No” to the passage of a proposed additional tax on property owners alone to fund the restructuring of our fire and EMS services. The restructuring is necessary, but it is not necessary to put it solely on the backs of Maumee property owners. Council was urged in May to find a more equitable solution to this matter rather than simply taxing property owners alone, but they did not.
Consider the fact that the city’s population swells to twice the normal residential size as people from Sylvania, Toledo, Perrysburg and elsewhere pour into Maumee to work. While working here in our town, these folks will benefit from the restructured services without being asked to contribute one penny more toward them through a small increase to the income tax. The last time Maumee raised the income tax was in 1967. That’s when a Big Mac sold for 45 cents and a gallon of gas was 32 cents.
Consider the fact that there are particular businesses in Maumee that provide a specific health care service that drove the increase in EMS calls through the roof. These businesses put a great strain on our EMS crews. The city assesses property owners for repairs to sewer and water lines so that the service remains intact. Has the city considered assessing these businesses for the increase in demand to EMS so that it too remains intact? The proposed tax levy does not shift any additional cost to these businesses for their extremely high call volume beyond what would be assessed in their property tax.
If the proposed 5.6-mill levy passes, it will raise taxes annually on property owners alone to the tune of about $200 for each $100,000 of the county auditor’s appraised value. According to a CNBC report, Ohio property owners are already in the top 10 highest taxed states in the country. When does it stop?
The expense of redoing the AW Trail and redoing the Maumee uptown was about $25 million dollars. A large portion of the money borrowed will be paid off by year 2025. That’s good; however, couldn’t we have borrowed a little less and done a little less in the “redos” and started putting some monies aside to pay for restructuring the emergency services?
I urge voters to stay the course and to again vote “No” on the proposed property tax levy. We need to do better. We can do better. Chief Loboschefski is caught in the middle. The restructuring of our fire and EMS services is necessary. We want this done, so let’s find a solution that provides the funds from multiple sources that is more equitable to all benefactors.
Maumee Master Plan Process Begins
To the Editor:
The master plan process in communities most always engenders those age-old theories of a “more is better” or “go west young man” typical suburban sprawl ideal. Yet few truly understand cities as the complex human environment with huge economic implications they are.
I suggest, as does “Strong Towns” founder Charles Mahron, that planning for and rebuilding a city is really “stitching together city components at a human scale,” an ideal we often reject in exchange for rapid, economically unsustainable growth on a suburban scale.
Maumee is approximately 11.4 square miles, which is similar to other urban cities with two and three times the population, yet we have the same number of road miles and utility infrastructure to maintain. Unfortunately, other communities of similar geographic size and infrastructure have two and three times the population to carry the burden of maintaining this massive infrastructure liability. This is one of the very reasons the City of Maumee reduces street width and lowers speed limits. All of these concepts should be considered during a master plan process.
With this in mind, potential consultants have been asked to familiarize themselves with the Maumee community and the government structure of the city. It is imperative those submitting proposals become intimately aware and familiar with “Strong Towns” concepts and how street, space and building design, as well as a strong understanding of cities as a complex human habitat, inform how cities build and reinvent themselves. Knowledge and embracing of modern, appropriate transportation planning as well as social and environmental justice are imperative and must be based on principles espoused by the American Planning Association, Strong Towns and Walkable Communities.
Requests for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQP) are due by Tuesday, November 14, 2023.
Embrace the future,
Patrick Burtch, Ph.D.
City of Maumee
Shame On Writers Of Hate Mail
To the Editor:
I must respond to a mass mailing “postcard” that is hate mail of the highest category. It was aimed at city administrator Patrick Burtch. It was a vile piece of hate mail that has no place in our community. The only name on it was Brad Reynolds, treasurer. It was a despicable act from someone with a vendetta.
Why doesn’t the writer/writers come forth and present their grievances for us to decide if they have a personal vendetta? Much aim was taken at Mr. Burtch’s salary. It was mentioned in a nasty way. The way things are presented to and passed by council was also mentioned.
Just what purpose is served by this hate mail? Shame on the editors of it.
Maumee Construction Inconvenient, But Will Be Worth It In The End
To the Editor:
As a business owner in uptown Maumee, a resident of uptown Maumee, and the president of the Maumee Uptown Business Association, I am excited to see the progress being made on the streetscape revitalization project. When speaking with my neighbors and customers, one of the common complaints I hear is, “Maumee wants to be just like Perrysburg.” My response is “Yes, and?”
Why shouldn’t our city look to emulate the best parts of our neighbors while we craft a community that is uniquely our own? Why shouldn’t we want a bustling uptown area full of businesses, restaurants and bars like Perrysburg? Why shouldn’t we want gorgeous tree lined streets like Ottawa Hills? Why shouldn’t we want a city full of diverse business and industry like Toledo? Why shouldn’t we think that all of this, and more, is achievable for Maumee?
There are growing pains, to be sure, and no one likes living through a renovation. And that is what we are experiencing right now – we are all living through a community renovation as the city of Maumee is busily updating the kitchen in our collective home. Total gut job. Back to the studs. Fixes for some outdated plumbing and electrical, too. And then new cabinets, counters, appliances. All the top-notch finishes.
Uptown Maumee is the heart of our home. A new kitchen is a great place for gathering, entertaining and cooking meals while we plan our future. Renovating the kitchen in a house also provides the one of the greatest returns on investment. The streetscape project will draw new business while bolstering existing business. Nearly 100 new businesses have opened or relocated to Maumee over the last four years. More than 12 of those have chosen to set up shop in the uptown area. This project is fueling a renaissance as our city is seeing increasing growth and prosperity, making Maumee – especially the uptown area – a desired location to live, work and play.
Anyone who has ever taken on a renovation knows they never go as planned, especially on old houses, or old towns, like ours. With the streets torn up, the city and many of the local utilities have taken the opportunity to update critical underground infrastructure, causing delays and frustration. But these improvements are essential if we expect continued growth over the next several decades.
To top it all off, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the city of Maumee decided that now would also be a good time to redo the living room and the dining room. Might as well do them all at the same time. Plus, ODOT already had plans to tear apart the backyard. The Anthony Wayne Trail project includes necessary upgrades to storm sewers and catch basins, new light poles and new traffic signals. The AW Trail serves as a major artery through our town and was in sore need of updating and safety fixes. The widening of I-475 and the addition of the new interchange on Illinois Avenue/20A will offer further opportunity for business expansion. The Illinois Avenue corridor from Conant Street to the expressway will be a flurry of activity and investment in the coming years.
These projects have to happen for our town to stay relevant. This is how our community grows. This is how our community prepares for the future.
As a business owner, it’s exciting to see these changes. It’s exciting to know that our city administration has faith in our business community and is willing to invest this much in it, especially in uptown Maumee.
To Mayor Carr, the members of city council and city administrator Patrick Burtch – thank you. Thank you for your foresight and willingness to see the potential in our fine city. Thank you for having the courage to make these choices and stand by them.
Yes, all of this is inconvenient. It takes a little longer to get across town and we have orange barrels coming out of our ears. But it won’t be forever and when it’s done, it will be beautiful – our town will be the envy of all of our neighbors. When the neighboring communities start their renovations, and one day they will, I hope their local naysayers will grouse about how “their town wants to be just like Maumee.”
President, Maumee Uptown Business Association
Maumee Council President Explains City Finances
BY JIM MacDONALD | PRESIDENT – MAUMEE CITY COUNCIL
As the president of Maumee City Council and a member of the Finance Committee, I felt it was important for our residents to have an understanding of how our city budget works and some of the limitations we must follow.
We operate under three basic funds. Operating Funds support the day-to-day function of the city. This includes police and fire services, public service operations like garbage pickup, leaf pickup, snow removal, grass cutting and natural resources, street and curb repair, Rolf Park pool, parks and recreation, etc.
The second fund is Capital. This supports road projects and road resurfacing items like the Conant Street revitalization and the Anthony Wayne safety project, building projects, vehicle and equipment purchases, etc.
The third fund is an Enterprise Fund. This includes water and sewer. Essentially, what this means is when we pay our water/sewer bill, that money is used exclusively for these services only. Water bill money funds the purchase of water from Toledo and supports the water division operations. Sewer money pays for the treatment of our water and sewer division operations.
The most important thing to note is these funds are not interchangeable. We cannot take money from any of these designated funds and use it for another purpose.
Operating Funds and Capital are funded by tax revenue. We have a 1.5-percent income tax. By law, two-thirds goes to Operating and one third to Capital. That rate has not been changed since the1960s. Only those individuals who work in Maumee pay the income tax. If a resident lives in the city and works outside Maumee, then they pay no city income tax. They benefit from what is called a 100-percent tax credit. Individuals who receive social security or retirement income pay no city income tax.
Operating and Capital are also funded by property tax. Property tax comes from residential and business owners. Maumee gets only 4 percent of the property tax levied on each parcel. The remainder, or 96 percent of the property tax, goes to schools and other special districts like the zoo, library, seniors, mental health, Imagination Station, etc.
Hypothetically, if a Maumee resident pays no income tax and owns a home that pays $5,000 per year in property tax, their total tax bill would be 4 percent of their property tax or $200. It costs the city $187 per property just to pick up the garbage.
Earlier in 2023, the Maumee Fire Division approached the Finance Committee and council about its staffing model, emphasizing the current volunteer staffing model is not sustainable. After a lengthy discussion on the options, it was determined the fire/EMS staffing model needs to be improved. A property tax levy seemed to be the best option for several reasons. It designates money only to be used for fire/EMS. The current level of the Operating Fund cannot sustain the new cost, and Maumee is not under any local tax levy. The cost is shared by all who actually receive the service. Being the former police chief of Maumee, I feel strongly the future of our emergency response services is a priority for our community.
The intention of city council has always been what is best for the future of our fine city. There are a few in our community and some who do not live in our city who feel the best method is to print propaganda to divide and conquer for self-guided interest. Moving forward, I want our city to prosper. I feel that safe and secure neighborhoods are a good plan for our community. I am a firm believer that the best approach is to have both oars in the water with all of us paddling in the same direction. We have much work to do. Together we can make a difference.
Sponsors Thanked For Veteran Support
To the Editor:
Maumee Honoring Military Veterans greatly appreciates the participation and sponsorship of wreaths to honor our deceased military veterans on Wreaths Across America day last December. Thanks to nearly 200 volunteers and over 80 wreath sponsors, we were able to recognize and honor nearly 900 veterans at St. Joseph and Riverside cemeteries.
On December 16, 2023, Maumee Honoring Military Veterans (OH0283) will again be remembering our deceased veterans interred at St. Joseph’s Cemetery and Riverside Cemetery. Our ceremony will be held at Side Cut Metropark in the Maumee Rotary Pavilion located at 1025 W. River Rd., Maumee, beginning at 11:00 a.m. with wreath placement to follow.
Please help us honor and remember our fallen heroes by sponsoring remembrance wreaths, volunteering or inviting your family and friends to attend with you. For every two wreaths sponsored through our group page (link below), Wreaths Across America will match a third wreath for free! (Note: We do not receive this match if you sponsor through St Joseph’s or Riverside’s location page.)
Sponsor wreaths with a credit card and volunteer using this link: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/OH0283.
If you prefer to write a check, please make it payable to: Wreaths Across America (WAA) Group OH0283.
Mail to Wreaths Across America (WAA), c/o Dennis Addis, 10429 Bailey Rd., Waterville, OH 43566.
Although we have enough wreaths sponsored for this year’s remembrance, your donation will help us to ensure that our veterans are honored with a remembrance wreath for years to come.
Thank you so much for supporting the Maumee Honoring Military Veterans (OH0283) and Wreaths Across America.
Vote Yes On Fire/EMS Levy
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my strong support for the Fire/EMS Levy for our city of Maumee.
As a 38-year resident and retired chief of police for our community, I know that it is essential for us to prioritize the safety and well-being of our citizens, and the Fire/EMS Levy is a critical step in achieving this goal.
The Fire/EMS Levy will provide the necessary funding to maintain and improve the quality of emergency medical and fire services to our city. This includes funding for training and retention of highly skilled EMS/Fire professionals, as well as the purchase and maintenance of state-of-the-art equipment and technology. With the Fire/EMS Levy in place, we can ensure that our EMS/Fire professionals have the resources they need to respond quickly and effectively in times of crisis.
In addition to the immediate benefits of improved emergency medical and fire services, the Fire/EMS Levy will also have long-term benefits for our community. By supporting this levy, we are investing in the health and safety of our residents, which in turn contributes to a higher quality of life and more vibrant community.
We can no longer count on the Lucas County Commissioners to fund our EMS. I have personally been told by commissioner Pete Gerkin that Ohio law does not require Lucas County to fund EMS, but that Ohio law does require Lucas County to provide a functional jail. We all know that the commissioners are prioritizing a new jail (by the way, it is much needed), so we don’t want to be empty-handed when funding for EMS is no longer available or a priority for the county.
Our safety services have already suffered a loss when the county consolidated our 911 emergency call center, and we lost our city of Maumee dispatchers to the 911 Lucas County Regional Council of Governments, which runs all emergency and non-emergency calls for service. Now, calls to all 22 Lucas County emergency services, police, fire and EMS are directed to one call center. Lucas County is the only county in Ohio that consolidated its 911 service that has a city (Toledo) that has a population over 250,000 residents. So far, there have been deficiencies in the 911 call center, but time will tell if it will be successful. I do have confidence in the Regional Council of Governments leadership that they are working hard to right the ship.
Our community cannot suffer another funding cut for our safety services. Please let’s keep our Fire/EMS service funded. Vote YES on May 2, 2023, for the Maumee Fire/EMS Levy
Thank you for your consideration.
David H. Tullis II
Retired Chief of Police
City of Maumee
Proposed New Tax Levy On Property Owners
To the Editor:
The city administration is asking Maumee residents to approve a new 5.6-mill tax levy for the purpose of funding Maumee fire and EMS services at a special election on May 2. This levy is for a continuing period of time and is estimated to raise nearly $3 million annually for these services. The proposed new tax will cost Maumee homeowners about $200 for each $100,000 of the county auditor’s appraised value. The new tax will likely amount to $400 to $600 per year for most property owners, and for some a lot more. Wow!
My comments are not directed to the men and women of Maumee fire and EMS services. The excellent service you provide is needed and greatly valued. What you do for us is a reason for our city being a great place to live. My comments below are directed to the city administration.
I read in past editions of The Mirror that the annual cost to the city for fire and EMS services is about $1.6 million per year. Approximately $800,000 is given by Lucas County to Maumee to assist with this region’s related EMS services. That leaves about an $800,000 annual shortfall that the city of Maumee must cover from its budget to support the present fire and EMS structure in place.
The article stated that two of Maumee’s city officials were told by a Lucas County official the $800,000 from the county was not guaranteed into the future. Although I could not find official confirmation of that point anywhere online, let’s assume the county is getting out of the EMS services sometime into the future. Are there no other options but to immediately begin taxing property owners for these services that are already in existence and already covered in our budget? What about the tens of thousands of people employed at Arrowhead Park and other businesses in Maumee but do not live here, yet also rely on these services when needed? Should Maumee property owners alone be tasked with covering what is an “unofficial” shortfall?
A new tax can assuredly raise desired funds for fire and EMS; however, this new revenue stream then allows the city admin to redirect current tax revenue to pay for other things. Besides the millions spent on the uptown and the AW Trail beautification projects, there are many smaller projects funded by council that are not safety-related and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Some examples are $401,000 budgeted for repaving and some upgrades to the Ford Field baseball parking lot and facility and nearly $100,000 to “study traffic in the uptown district.” There is also $162,000 approved for a bathroom upgrade for the Monclova Country Church at the Wolcott property that is ADA-compliant and almost $100,000 spent on new concrete for the East Towpath. These are just a few, quick examples. I have no qualms with these things … just don’t ask for more money, especially from fixed incomes and at a time when the cost of living has tremendously increased.
I think we already give the city enough money to run it. We should push back on this new tax request and have the city admin come up with a better plan … and for the timeframe that it is known to be truly, officially needed.
I urge all voters on May 2 to vote “No” on this new tax and to also read the meeting minutes of city council to be informed about how things are getting done by our elected officials. The minutes can be found online at Maumee.org.
Reader Addresses City Council Coverage
To the Editor:
I wish to thank you for the effort you put into the coverage of the council meetings. It has been enlightening to read the positions of the council members and to read about the issues discussed during each meeting. The detail is appreciated. Please continue with this effort.
As a secondary subject, I think it would be good if The Mirror would consider printing a simple opinion polling ballot in the newspaper to determine the citizens’ opinion of controversial matters put before the council.
The recent issue concerning the non-owner-occupied residence ordinance that was passed by council is an example.
Yes, residents did have an opportunity to express their opinions on the matter, but not everyone wishes to express their opinion, publicly, at a council meeting. Some people do not prefer acting in a public speaking role.
If The Mirror would receive the ballots and maintain a running tally of the “for” and “against” votes with a summary, each week, I feel it would be very helpful to the community and helpful to the council members. It would also be viewed as a welcomed public service offered by The Mirror.
Realtors Question Proposed Ordinance
To the Editor:
Northwest Ohio Realtors represents over 2,100 realtor members, 150 of which live and vote in the city of Maumee. Our members represented buyers and sellers in 375 single-family transactions in the city of Maumee in 2022.
We have attempted to work with the city to develop a common-sense solution to address the issues the city is currently facing with rental properties. The proposed ordinance as written is overly complicated, penalizes landlords who are maintaining their properties, intrudes on renters and their homes and simply is not able to be enforced by the city.
1. Mandatory inspections are an infringement on tenant and private property rights:
a. Tenants who are happy with the condition of their home do not want inspectors walking through it.
b. Tenants do not want to be displaced when landlords have to make repairs to their home.
c. Where will tenants go when landlords are forced to evict them?
2. Legal concerns:
a. Does the city have the legal ability to interfere in a binding contract (rental agreement) between a landlord tenant?
a. The city would have to complete five inspections every day including weekends and holidays to meet the February 2024 deadline. This does not take into account re-inspections.
b. Is inspecting every rental property the best use of city resources, especially when the city is asking residents to support a fire and safety levy?
If this ordinance is passed, many of the current rentals will go vacant. Statistically, non-owner-occupied properties are purchased by other investors, not individuals planning on converting them to owner-occupied (even in a buyer’s market), leading to additional blight.
Northwest Ohio Realtors, CEO
Conant Traffic Upended, Not Upscaled
To the Editor:
Two years ago, when Maumee ruined Conant Street coming from Perrysburg, there was a left-turn arrow onto West Broadway. Then, they “retimed” Conant Street traffic signals and now, no more left-turn arrows.
Now, to turn left to West Broadway takes forever with no left-turn arrow. Also, to turn right on East Broadway is impossible as Maumee moved the curb way out into the street. Look at all the tire marks on the curb. Maumee leaders should be really proud of what they have done to “upscale” Maumee.
City Asked To Reconsider Street Closure
To the Editor:
Am I the only one who thinks putting parking spaces alongside St. Joseph Church on Conant Street and then closing off West Harrison Street to right-hand turns is a very bad idea?
Where will these cars go when they leave? Across the bridge; and if they live in Maumee, find their way back across the bridge and add to the backup.
There is absolutely no reason not to allow right-hand turns onto West Harrison. At the “Quality of Life” meeting, I was told only 6-7 cars used West Harrison a day, so they didn’t think it was necessary to keep it open. Tell that to the people who will park in those spaces. (After a while, no one will.)
Mayor Carr and Mr. Burtch spoke at the meeting of the possibilities of several businesses, mostly restaurants, coming to the Maumee area. That would be good. Please reconsider permanently closing off West Harrison Street.
Waterville Could Communicate Better
To the Editor:
Regarding communication with the city of Waterville:
My December water bill contained an increase of $0.70 in the refuse and recycling rate. I checked the water rate chart on the city website and verified the December rate was to be the same as November. I sent an email to (Waterville) town hall asking for verification. Two days later, the chart was changed; no one contacted me. I obtained a copy of the legislation authorizing charges and learned the rate charged was accurate. However, the rate change was to take place on June 1, 2022, not in December. An email describing this situation was sent to the administrator on December 31, 2022; as of January 12, 2023, there has been no reply.
Obtaining official legislative information is inconsistent. There is easy access to the municipal code on the city website. However, on the website, the municipal code is current to August 27, 2018, and council meeting minutes are available for 2022. This gap requires a review of the records at the municipal building. Updating the code and/or posting more minutes would eliminate this gap. Maximum posting of current documents (on the website) would go a long way toward eliminating speculation, reducing reliance on social media, and provide prompt, useful feedback. Perhaps an update of the 10-year-old records request policy would be helpful, if done with resident participation.
At the council meeting on January 9, 2023, in opening remarks, Mayor Tim Pedro said citizen comments are eventually going to be limited with the individual goal of two minutes and the combined total not to exceed 10 minutes. These limits are described in 121.02 but have been generously overlooked in past meetings. Perhaps a change in regulations or procedures is appropriate.
Reader Criticizes Officials For Uptown Traffic Decisions
To the Editor:
I read with interest the article in the December 15 copy of The Mirror concerning the Conant Street traffic flow on the Ft. Meigs Memorial Bridge. It seems the Maumee administrators have a rather naive opinion of why motorists don’t merge into their intended lanes prior to their approach to Broadway Street.
The particular article was addressing the use of temporary cones to funnel traffic into a single lane as it approached Broadway Street. One statement read, “The logic behind the funneling of traffic was to hopefully prevent collisions or pedestrian accidents caused by inattentive motorists making last-second lane switches as they reached Broadway and realized that their only option in the right lane was to turn right onto East Broadway Street.”
Does some of that occur due to inattentive drivers? Certainly, but let’s be honest.
The majority of the high-volume traffic occurs during the morning and evening rush hours. The addressing of this traffic as being “inattentive motorists” is, for the most part, inaccurate. The drivers who are proceeding in the right lane and then diving left into the through lane are acting with one intention in mind. They are not going to wait their turn, in the long line, with the other courteous drivers. It’s because they are better than the rest of us and their time is far more important. Therefore, they must race up as far as they can in the right lane and force themselves into the left lane in front of some overly generous soul who feels sorry for them and gives them a break. So, why do these drivers do it? It’s because they can, and they are entitled people.
Those discourteous drivers do this every day and always find someone to let them in. Certainly, they experience days when there is no forgiving soul to let them in immediately, and they are left with forcing their way into the line. The administration had better be prepared for this behavior to continue forever after the project has been completed, cones or no cones, I-475 construction or no construction.
The city can conduct its traffic study if it wishes, but the morning and evening rush hour traffic will not change. Funneling traffic with cones merely moves the merge zone farther back.
The sad fact is that the federal government agreed to participate in the construction of a new Maumee-Perrysburg bridge with four lanes to alleviate traffic congestion and contributed millions of dollars toward that 2003 project. I knew the Federal Highway Administration engineer for our region and, if he was still alive today, he would be absolutely livid to see what is occurring. Had the city left in use all available four lanes through town, there would not be a need to “funnel” traffic on the bridge, now or ever in the future.
The Mirror article was titled, “Traffic Flow On Ft. Meigs Meigs Memorial Bridge Is Restored To Full Capacity.”
A Waterville Christmas To Remember Has Volunteers To Thank For Success
To the Editor:
Last week, hundreds of families and friends flocked to downtown Waterville to celebrate “A Waterville Christmas to Remember.”
The event included live musicians, lights, a live Nativity, crafts, face painting, food trucks, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides and a photo booth. Magic was in the air!
This event was a team effort that started last February as we obtained funding from the city to replace and refurbish decorations for the downtown area. Thank you to all of the volunteers who worked endless hours throughout the year and to all who joined to help even in the homestretch. This includes Christie and Nate Bolton, Terry Rousseau, Heather Duvall-Foote, Josh Wagy, Julie Wiley, Rev. Steve Bauerle and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mayor Tim Pedro, Kaleigh Gray, Elaine Parrish, Sue Utterback, Emily Martin, Wes Martin, Brenda Dodson, Ronda Moore, Tom Gray, Katie Rose, Adam Foltz, Amy Gelsone, Terri Massucci, Sehnaz and Irem Aksoy and Regina Moore.
And thank you to all of those who came out to support our event and show that our community stands strong together!
Waterside Monclova – An Unfulfilled Dream
To the Editor:
After serving with some great residents on the board and various committees, I find it rather difficult but necessary to write a negative letter about Waterside Monclova.
Waterside is a HOPA community primarily governed by community documents, federal regulations and Ohio Revised Code, and it seems every one of them has been broken or circumvented by the board.
Protecting voting procedures, fiduciary responsibility and freedom of speech are fundamental in any community. Using some examples, I will attempt to describe the failures of this board and manager in protecting those rights.
There was some interest in building an addition to the clubhouse and there was a $55,000 limit on board expenditures. The vote did NOT pass the number required in our documents, but the board in a private meeting dissolved the spending limit and decided to spend $750,000 on a clubhouse addition contrary to the will and vote of the residents. This action severely depreciated a significant reserve account. Also, a non-elected finance committee was dissolved and never re-established as promised.
Since the spending limit was abolished, the board continued spending on various projects with debatable value. The Ohio Revised Code states that planned communities must retain reserve funds to cover the cost of “repair or replacement of assets,” however, the board spent the reserve fund monies for new projects. After many challenges and years later, the board is making a meager attempt to replenish those funds, which at best will take considerable time.
Most newspapers have pages of opinion allowing different viewpoints to be heard – not in Waterside!
There are two outlets for resident information and communication. They are the NABR network, a website, and Harbour Lights, a monthly newsletter. Both are paid for by the residents’ assessments but controlled by the board and manager. The board uses these to promote its positions and does not allow any dissenting comments arbitrarily controlled by the manager.
An excellent example of the board’s egregious use of these sites was the castigation of a very experienced CPA and board member who was challenging the board’s accounting procedures and spending habits. Since these revealing postings were not allowed, he was doing his best to keep some of the residents informed through a members-only Facebook group. About the same time, an auditing firm and accounting firm both decided they did not want to do business with Waterside any longer. The board stated in its public article that these firms exited due to comments made by the CPA board member that were negative to their firms. Not true. The statements were made especially about Waterside’s accounting practices. An attempt was made to reach out to these firms, and they declined comment.
The atmosphere has been so divisive that there are three seats open on the board and zero candidates. Imagine that with 602 homes and 900-1,000 residents
I believe most residents want an inescapable spending cap limit (maybe $25,000) on spending without a vote by residents. Once again establishing an oversight finance committee, freedom of opinion in the resident-funded newsletter and overall true transparency where all questions can be asked and answered.
Last but not least would be getting more residents involved and some political and legal support from our surrounding communities.
Maumee Annexation Threatens Partnership
Dear Maumee Council:
Zac Isaac, former executive officer of The State Bank & Trust and president of Isaac Property Company, petitioned the Board of Lucas County Commissioners to annex property from Monclova Township to Maumee on June 1, 2022, and Maumee City Council approved the annexation on June 6, 2022, without even a phone call to Monclova.
On August 30, 2022, Commissioners Gerken, Wozniak and Byers granted Isaac’s petition to annex property located near Fallen Timbers Mall just behind the Waterside subdivision in Monclova. Isaac has stated that he intends to annex additional property located off Black Road.
In 2010, Monclova Township with the cities of Maumee and Toledo (“MMT”) negotiated Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) and Cooperative Economic Development (CEDA) agreements to cooperate in regional development and to retain and create job opportunities for the welfare of all in the region. The JEDZ was approved by the electors of Monclova.
JEDZs and CEDAs are forms of partnerships prescribed by statutes and are created among units of local governments. CEDAs can encompass a range of agreements for cooperation and revenue sharing but are not taxing authorities. A JEDZ is an entity formed by contract to create revenue through an income tax in commercial areas. A JEDZ allows a municipality to expand its tax base without annexing township territory and provides additional funds necessary for a township to serve growing commercial areas by receiving a share of income taxes. Typically, JEDZs and CEDAs minimize annexation disputes between townships and municipalities, often facilitating the development and delivery of utilities to development properties, which is consistent with the original intentions of the MMT agreements.
JEDZs and CEDAs are good for business since a portion of the income tax collected can be made available for improvements to properties serving the JEDZ area. The most recent and notable example of the MMT JEDZ is the agreement of Toledo to contribute a portion of its share of JEDZ revenue to the local cost for the I-475/US 20A Interchange.
But now the JEDZ and CEDA partnerships are being undermined and Monclova Township is under attack. The “no annexation” agreement in the CEDA was intended to cover all of Monclova Township and no territory of the township would be annexed by the cities without consent of all three parties. Recognizing that annexation issues would arise, the contracts provide a mechanism to allow annexations when the parties agree it to be appropriate.
If Isaac’s development plans proceed, purchasers of those homes should be forewarned as they will be subject to both Maumee city tax and Monclova’s taxes and levies. The annexation statute provides that the territory annexed into Maumee will not be excluded from the township and remains subject to the township’s real property taxes.
These historic agreements are now in jeopardy. After years of working together to promote the JEDZ, Maumee City Council, administrator Patrick Burtch and Mayor Rich Carr disregarded the contracts. There is no right of a landowner to annex; the municipality has the final word. In this case, even though Maumee had agreed not to exercise annexation without consent of its partners, they chose to neglect that commitment.
When partners selectively choose to ignore the terms of a contract and disrespect its partners, then there is little purpose, value or trust behind them.
Monclova Township Board of Trustees
Maumee Mayor Issues A Response
To the Editor:
On June 1, 2022, Isaac Land Investments petitioned the Board of Lucas County Commissioners to annex property from the township of Monclova into the city of Maumee. Both communities, Monclova Township and the city of Maumee, were served the very next day on June 2, 2022, with notice of the petition having been filed. The annexation petition filed does not exclude this land from the township.
The Monclova Township trustees stated in their media release that “even though Maumee had agreed not to exercise annexation into Maumee without the consent of its partners, they chose to neglect that commitment.” The Monclova Township trustees, by their failure to object to the petition, in fact did consent to the annexation.
The Monclova Township Board of Trustees had the statutory right to file with the Board of County Commissioners an objection to the petition. The Board of Lucas County Commissioners specifically found that the Monclova Township Board of Trustees failed to file a timely objection to the petition; therefore, under the laws of the state of Ohio, Monclova Township was deemed to have consented to annexation of the property into the city of Maumee.
The Lucas County Commissioners were very thorough in making certain that all requirements for annexation set forth in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) were strictly followed. Neither the Board of Lucas County Commissioners nor the city of Maumee should be criticized by the Monclova Township Board of Trustees for the trustees’ failure to object to the petition, which by law forfeits their opposition to the annexation.
The Monclova Township trustees have chosen to publicly criticize the city of Maumee through a media release. The trustees apparently have chosen to respond to their failure to file a timely objection, which resulted in their legally being determined to have consented to the annexation petition, by attempting to shift blame to the city of Maumee for the petition being approved. The Monclova Township Board of Trustees’ failure to object to the petition directly resulted in the approval of the annexation, not any action by the city of Maumee or its elected or appointed officials.
Monclova Township trustees declaring in a media release that they are “under attack” by Maumee is not only perplexing but completely unfounded. Maumee officials are always interested in finding common ground with our Monclova Township neighbors, which is why Maumee did not initiate this petition for annexation in any way. However, a private developer did file the petition and could not be ignored by the Maumee City Council. At no time in the past 12 years has the city of Maumee even discussed the annexation of Monclova Township property.
It is apparent that Isaac Land Investments has determined the necessity of annexing approximately 27 acres of property they own in Monclova Township next to Fallen Timbers Mall into the city of Maumee for specific business or personal reasons.
I am certain that Mr. Isaac is willing to publicly discuss the reasons for his decision to annex property from Monclova Township into the city of Maumee, the same as the Monclova Township trustees have determined a public forum is the best manner in which to proceed. I believe that it would be enlightening for both residents of Monclova Township and the city of Maumee to understand what caused Isaac Land Investments to choose this avenue to facilitate its private property and developmental rights.
Isaac Land Investments’ consideration of the economic health of surrounding areas should be applauded by all those who believe Fallen Timbers should continue to provide retail, commercial and other housing opportunities for surrounding community residents in Waterville, Whitehouse, Waterville Township, Maumee and Monclova Township as well as provide additional revenue to both the Maumee and Anthony Wayne school districts.
It might very well be the saving grace for the Fallen Timbers property, which we can all agree is a step in the right direction.
Online-Only Tickets Cause Hardship
To the Editor:
I just recently found out that in order to attend an event at Anthony Wayne schools, you need to get your tickets online. As I don’t have any way of doing this, I think it is a terrible way of doing business. It not only causes hardship, it causes you to pay more because you are paying a processing fee to some company. If it’s going to cost more, I would rather pay it to the school. If it’s for a security purpose, that’s no better – someone, if they want to do damage, can get in by buying a ticket online just as easily as buying at the gate. To the school board or whoever made this choice, I would wish you would change the policy.
City Should Reposition Roadwork Sign
To the Editor:
The work on Conant Street and the bridge in the right lane is unnerving right now. A simple solution would be to move the roadwork sign back, closer to Perrysburg. As people come from Perrysburg, heading to the bridge, the right lane is closed, and traffic backs up in the left lane. The sign saying “Closed” or “Roadwork Ahead” is placed at the bridge and halfway across the bridge, but if they would just move it back a little, all those cars that fly down the right lane and try to merge into the already long line of traffic in the left lane might know better. The sign really should be as far back as the light/intersection at SR 25 and Front Street, so drivers see it and start merging then! Just seems like an easy and common-sense solution.
Please Return Conant Street To Drivers
To the Editor:
A new overhead sign should read, “Welcome to Upscale Maumee. Speed Limit Zero.” Making Conant Street traffic back up for blocks? Brilliant. Leaders wanted left turns. A simple fix would be to remove “No Left Turn” signs. When Conant Street was reduced to one lane from Perrysburg at West Boundary, there was a left-turn arrow. Then, Maumee “retimed” the traffic signals and eliminated the left-turn arrow. Brilliant. Soon, a bicycle path along the Anthony Wayne Trail will be the quickest way through Maumee. Maybe the new divider at Harrison Street could have a buffet with a salad bar. There is plenty of time to choose while being stuck in “upscale” traffic.
Rib Off Was Great, Traffic Was Not
To the Editor:
I try not to complain, but after going to this year’s annual Rib Off, which was great – I try to go every year – I waited for 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot after the musical event on Friday. That was sitting there, not even moving yet.
From what we could tell, there was no one directing traffic onto Key Street.
They could have some people turning right only, which would have had the traffic going a lot faster. Also, there was no back exit onto Michigan. Could that have been another option? Maybe some ideas for next year.
Conant Street Property Deserves Our Attention
To the Editor:
In the July 28, 2022 edition of The Mirror, a Letter to the Editor titled “Revisit Uptown Greenspace Proposal” took me by surprise. In 2014, the idea for a park was brought to the city by a group of citizens. Unfortunately, the proposal, while approved, never moved forward. Four years later, in 2018, commerce became another option. Lacking a Master Plan, having land use restrictions and the prior plan of a park never realized, the land was sold as an addition to our uptown commerce district. I remember asking if a small remembrance “corner park” could be made as part of the final plans. I really did believe they would make that property shine. Unfortunately, we are at the four-year mark again without visible progress and the citizens are once again looking for action on that same beautiful piece of property in uptown. Before we start diving back into a conversation of “what,” we need to ask “why” and “how.” WHY is a prime piece of property in our beautiful uptown still sitting empty after all this time? Eight years of interested parties and years prior to that, the space still sits empty, still undeveloped. Years of conversation and controversy only for an entire uptown revitalization project to happen around it; its fate still hanging in the balance. If a group of citizens was able to finance a park project and it was approved, WHY wasn’t it ever realized? If a piece of land was sold to a community-based business, WHY has the process taken so long? Much like other improvements in the community – utility billing upgrades and streaming meetings being a few – the plans never seem to make it to the finish line. If a greenspace proposal is viable, if commerce is still on the table, if another option comes to the table, HOW will we know this is the final conversation? HOW will we know the plan will be realized this time? The community deserves to move on from this conversation and to see thoughtful, forward-moving progress from its leadership.
City Urged To Improve Utility Billing
To the Editor:
I recently attended a Maumee City Council meeting on Monday, July 17. I had two objectives to present at the end of the meeting for community comments: 1.) The 3-percent senior discount on Maumee residents’ water bills. With the ongoing increases of gasoline, food prices and other living maintenance, this 3-percent discount is just not keeping up with all the expenses that are increasing. The recent increase of a minimum of 6,000 gallons of water per household on the water bill has caused my one-person household’s costs to climb from $89.00 per quarter to $159, which inevitably is charging me for water I do not use. Three percent of the $159 is $4.77 and is absolutely lame if you ask me, and I am sure if we asked the seniors of Maumee, they would agree as well, especially after White House government officials have repeatedly said how this is the time to start paying more attention regarding how to help our seniors and deal with mental health issues within our communities. I was rather hopeful that a percentage increase for seniors on the water bill would be taken into advisement. Council president James MacDonald made mention that the request would be reviewed. 2.) For the city of Maumee to review how nonfunctional its website is for customers making payments on their utility bills. The way the system is now, a person using this to pay their bill is not permitted to see past bills and past payments on the system. I petitioned council to consider a software that would allow the citizens to be able to do so. Again, I was rather hopeful to hear that the city has recognized that this is a problem, and I was reassured to hear that they already have something in the works to begin a change, per comment from Maumee Finance Director Jennifer Harkey.
Blocking Harrison Streets A Hasty Decision
To the Editor:
In response to the permanent blocking off of East and West Harrison streets, it is a hasty solution for a temporary problem. Why would someone turn illegally onto East Harrison when they could turn legally onto Broadway? Perhaps better signage that it is one way is needed. The biggest problem is the temporary closure of the left-hand turn lanes on Conant Street. I can understand making it illegal to turn left on West Harrison, but to block it off permanently would affect making right-hand turns going south on Conant. I, and others, use that route to go to the St. Joseph parking lot. Imagine the traffic on Allen Street trying to get into the Allen Street entrance. If necessary, block off East Harrison (permanently if necessary) and block off West Harrison temporarily until after the project is done and the left turn lanes are open. It would be nice if there were short turn arrows. As anyone who uses or crosses Conant Street knows, the intersections are often blocked. Many people are upset with the Conant Street project and making decisions without thought will not help. Save money by blocking West Harrison temporarily if necessary until the project is done. All the side streets are seeing more traffic. Should we close all of them?
Revisit Uptown Green Space Proposal
To the Editor:
Approximately 14 years ago, I spoke before city council about transforming the area along Conant Street between East Broadway and East Wayne streets into an open green space as an enhancement to the uptown Maumee area. Fast forward to 2014. Council received a proposal from the Quality of Life Committee to keep that area a green space. In the July 10, 2014, issue of The Mirror, there is an article stating, “Council voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Buildings and Lands Committee for further review.” This was in reference to the proposal submitted by the Quality of Life Committee. The proposal included benches, walkways a low decorative wall and a water feature. Students from BGSU submitted plans for this proposal and the Buehrer Group Architecture and Engineering firm helped with the finalizing of the preliminary plans. Eventually, the property was sold to Marc Monnette so he could build a market. Many years have passed since this sale and the end result is that a Monnette’s market will not be built on that site. That land still sits vacant. The city now potentially has another opportunity to develop this land into an open green space with enhancements such as benches, a fountain and flower gardens. Now, more than back in 2014, developing this land as a green space makes more sense. With the ongoing transformation along Conant Street from four lanes into a two-lane road in order to slow down traffic in the hopes that more people will notice businesses in Maumee and stop to wander the streets, creating a green space would be a complement to the current changes taking place. I am sure that residents and visitors to the city would enjoy a welcoming area in a well-designed green space to sit with their ice cream from either Jacky’s or the candy store. I ask that council once again consider making this parcel of land into a well-developed open green space. It would make the uptown area much more inviting and appealing to go along with the current changes being made to uptown. Keep the momentum going with a positive change to this parcel of land. I would bet that Marc Monnette would be more than willing to sell this land back to the city.
Criticism Seems Unfair To Monclova Trustees
To the Editor:
In a July 14 letter to the editor, Jeremy Rands criticized Monclova Township trustees for being unresponsive to residents during a July 5 township meeting.
This surprised me, as I have generally found our trustees to be receptive and respectful in my interactions with them. (That is not to say we haven’t had a dispute or two over what we believed to be in the best interest of our community).
A few days after reading Mr. Rands’ commentary in The Mirror, it resurfaced in my postal mailbox – this time sealed in a Monclova Road Baptist Church envelope postal-stamped “nonprofit organization.” It confused me. Was this mass mailing to residents coming from a local resident or had it become an official church matter?
Upon giving it a second reading, something else seemed a bit off-kilter. Pastor Rands noted that this was only the second trustee meeting he had ever attended. Was this small sample size enough for him to be calling into question our trustees’ overall fitness to serve?
In order to resolve some of these questions in my own mind, I went to the Monclova township website and listened to the archived audio of the July 5 meeting in its entirety.
These were my takeaways:
The township trustees and fire chief are currently engaged in the process of determining how to best provide 24/7 fire protection to township residents.
At the July 5 meeting, a trustee explained to residents that this matter did not appear on that night’s agenda due to the fact that our fire chief had just submitted his proposal for upgrades prior to the start of the meeting. Furthermore, additional time was needed to evaluate any forthcoming proposals from neighboring fire departments. This process is not at all unusual. In the past, Monclova Township decided to turn over policing to the sheriff’s department and refuse pickup to a private provider.
Residents were then encouraged to send emails to the trustees with their questions and concerns and given assurances this matter would be given top priority at the next scheduled township meeting, with plenty of time set aside for comments from the public. The archived audio from the July 18 township meeting indicates that is precisely what happened.
A number of July 5 meeting attendees nevertheless insisted they be given time to speak that evening. As tension on both sides escalated, the trustees relented and granted two minutes per person for public comment. Seventeen speakers came forward. When it was Mr. Rands’ turn, he engaged the trustees for 10 minutes.
In his letter, Mr. Rands alluded to “unhinged tyrants drunk with power,” who “silence the voices of citizens with intimidation.” Was this his objective assessment of our trustees’ behavior at the July 5 meeting? It surely wasn’t mine.
Elected Officials Must Serve The Citizenry
To the Editor:
“We are in a crisis.”
On July 5, I found myself sitting in the front row of a standing-room-only trustees’ meeting at the Administration Building in Monclova Township.
Rumors had been circulating for weeks about the trustees’ secret intentions to outsource the township’s fire services to Springfield Township’s fire services. It was because of these rumors the residents came out in large numbers to give the trustees an opportunity to address the issue and share the truth.
As the trustees walked into the crowded room, one of them nervously said, “This is going to be a short meeting tonight.” I had a suspicion, based on this comment, that she was not going to provide the necessary leadership to calm the rumors and concerns that the residents brought to this meeting.
As I sat through the meeting, I was taken aback by how condescending one trustee was to their fellow trustees. Their tone was sharp and aggressive. This trustee controlled every conversation. This was only the second trustee meeting I had ever attended, and I sat disappointed as I witnessed this behavior. I felt it was rude and unbecoming of a servant leader. Then, as quickly as the meeting began, it was over. When it came time on the agenda for public comments, the residents were told, “Because of the amount of people here tonight, we will not allow public comments.”
My suspicion was proven to be correct; she had no desire to hear from the residents that evening or to calm the concerns that they had. She was going to send them away, and it appeared she didn’t care.
As the residents quickly realized what was happening, they began to speak up. They were firmly told to be quiet, and the tension in the room became thick. I could not believe how the residents were being talked to and treated. I was in shock! It became very apparent the trustees felt that the residents were out of place and needed to be put back in check. The next hour was sad. I witnessed an out-of-control trustee attempt to silence the residents’ free speech, interrupt, roll her eyes, get red-faced and even speak down to her fellow trustees when they disagreed with her. She portrayed disdain and disrespect to the residents she was elected to serve.
Sadly, we are witnessing this same scenario played out in town hall meetings, school board meetings, city council meetings and trustee meetings across America. Some politicians who get a taste of power become drunk with it. They forget that they were elected to work for the people and to represent the people in their community. Whenever they feel challenged, they attack those who have questions or opposing views. They attempt to silence the voices of the citizens with intimidation. It is appalling to see those who should be servant leaders become so arrogant in how they treat the citizens that they were entrusted to serve.
As I pondered this disappointing event that took place within my township, I did what a leader should do. I sought solutions. This should never happen. Citizens should never be treated this way. Elected officials should be servant leaders, not unhinged tyrants. So, what can we do? Allow me to encourage every citizen with the following solutions.
First, let your face be seen at every meeting. We need to be present at the meetings each time to remind the elected officials whom they are elected to represent. Our democracy only works when the citizens stay informed and do not relinquish the community’s best interests to the self-serving interest of politicians. We need to call out unhealthy behavior. When our elected officials become drunk with power, we must be there to demand humility.
Too many meetings take place in empty rooms. Citizens must be engaged. We can no longer afford to have short-term memories. When elections come around, we must use the ballot box as a performance review of not just officials’ accomplishments, but their bad behavior as well. When tyrannical behavior is allowed to go unchecked, it will only get worse, and the community will eventually pay the price.
Secondly, we as residents should always be looking for leaders in our community and encourage them to run for public office. Far too often, elected officials get power hungry because they go unopposed during elections. They remain in power far too long. No incumbent should ever run for re-election unopposed. We do not need a law passed to put term limits in place for elected officials, we just simply need to actively engage leaders within our communities and support them to run against every incumbent, every election cycle. There should never be an easy path to re-election for any elected official.
I welcome your thoughts and would enjoy hearing your comments. I hope that we can connect, and together our voices can make change and bring solutions because “we are in a crisis.”
I can be reached at email@example.com.
Rev. Jeremy Rands