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Council votes down parking proposal

7/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

After a year and a half of research and consideration, Peninsula Village Council voted down a proposal for paid parking in the village during the July 8 meeting.

Mayor Doug Mayer was forced to break a deadlock vote for the first time since being elected, putting the final nail in the proposal’s coffin.

Council members Mary Booth, Charles Moyer and Dee Holody voted for the purchase of the electronic pay station. Council President Doug Anderson and Councilmen Brian Schall and Dan Schneider voted in opposition to the legislation, forcing the mayor to break the tie.

Mayer voted without comment. Following the vote, Holody asked Mayer to explain why he voted against the measure.

Mayer said he wasn’t opposed to the concept of a pay station, but thought the timing was not good.

“I’m not against it. I’m against it at this time,” Mayer said.

Mayer is in the process of qualifying a candidate for village police chief and said he hoped the new chief could be confirmed by Council at the August meeting. He said he did not want the new chief to have to focus immediately on parking issues. Mayer said he hoped the new chief would be able to come to Council in a year with a plan to enforce paid parking.

Schneider echoed Mayer’s sentiment, saying the new chief would have more important issues to address.

Anderson asked if the legislation could be brought up for consideration at a later date without going through the entire three-reading legislative process. Village legal counsel  Mark Riemer, of Goldman & Rosen, said the matter could not be reconsidered without starting the process again.

Holody, who brought the proposal to Council and did extensive research on the proposition, challenged Anderson’s pre-vote assertion the Peninsula Garden Club opposed the parking station. She said some members of the club opposed the proposal, but the club did not vote to take a position.

Anderson recanted and rephrased his assertion.

Holody had estimated the village could conservatively generate $48,000 yearly in parking fees for the cash-strapped village. Also on the agenda, but not brought to a vote, were proposals to finance parking station equipment. Holody said the $17,000 to be borrowed for the equipment would be paid back in the first year using the fees it generated.

Mayer said the remaining police chief candidate has passed a background check and a physical examination. The candidate must successfully complete the psychological examination before being presented next month to Council for confirmation, he added. 

The village has been without a full-time chief for nearly four years. Council fired Chief Kevin James McCue in 2009 on the recommendation of former Mayor Richard Fisher. McCue sued the village and a settlement was filed with the court in September 2011, but not signed by the village until Mayer took office in 2012. Under the settlement agreement, the village will pay McCue $120,000 and fund his pension through June 1, 2014.

The village has been seeking a full-time chief since March 2012. A candidate selected in the first search was unable to successfully complete pre-hire testing.

In other business, Mayer reported to Council the village has received $5,000 from a company that conducted unpermitted seismic testing in the village for damages to a drainage pipe. Mayer said he learned the company’s state-obtained permit for testing on state Route 303 did not include permission for testing within village limits. Within days of the June 2012 testing, a drainage pipe collapsed, Mayer told Council. He said he approached the company, which earlier said it would be liable for any damage caused by the testing, to reimburse the village for the $5,000 repair bill. The company issued a check to the village, Mayer said. However, in researching the issue, Mayer found the company had no authorization to test within the village. Mayer said the company misrepresented the limits of its permit in 2012.

Holody asked Mayer to send a letter to the company saying the information illegally obtained through the unpermitted testing cannot be sold.

In other action, Council:

  • agreed to hire Rebecca Garner as village zoning inspector;
  • heard the village received a $10,000 refund from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation;
  • heard the long-awaited village website will be live in a couple of weeks;
  • heard the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) has approved grants for road resurfacing and restoration of bridge railings;
  • heard details for CVNP-funded foot patrols during park events have been worked out. The village will receive a lump-sum payment of $10,000 at the end of the event season to reimburse it for police salary expenses; and
  • heard six people have applied for the part-time Street Department job.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Village Hall, at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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