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Peninsula Village making headway on wastewater problems

2/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Also, new Council president elected

Summit County Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) paid a visit to Peninsula Village Council during the meeting Feb. 10 with news the village will not be left to handle wastewater problems on its own.

Kostandaras, whose district includes Peninsula, Boston, Richfield and part of Akron, promised his assistance as the village navigates the possibilities for installing water and sewer lines throughout the community.

“I’m going to work tirelessly to help you with your situation,” he said. “Peninsula is important.”

For the past few months, the village has placed its focus on handling wastewater problems overall in the village. Eventually, the village will need to comply with the Clean Water Act, which seeks to halt illicit discharge into state streams, according to Mayor Doug Mayer.

On Jan. 15, village officials met with Summit County Executive Russ Pry and showed him a 10-year-old study for water and sewer in the village, said Mayer.

“Part of what I’m learning is before Nick can give us any money — before the state, the city, anybody, can give any money — we have to have a study. We have to have a blueprint; we have to have a plan,” said Mayer.

The village received an estimate to have the study redone for $16,000, Mayer added.

“Yesterday we found out we will have the study back in two months, and Summit County has picked up the tab completely,” said Mayer.

Also at the meeting, Constance Hesske, newly appointed solicitor for the village, directed Council in clearing up an item of contention that came up at last month’s meeting.

Hesske was hired during a special Council meeting Feb. 8 and will serve as solicitor and prosecutor for the village, replacing Irv Sugerman, whose resignation was accepted during the same meeting. Prior to hiring Hesske, nine applications were received, and three candidates were interviewed, according to Councilwoman Dee Holody. Hesske’s contract is through the end of this year, she said.

Hesske reiterated Sugerman’s advice at last month’s meeting, that the reason one might abstain from voting for a family member would be to avoid an appearance of impropriety, prompted by Pamela Schneider seconding a motion to nominate her father, Dan Schneider, for president of Council for 2014.

However, individuals can vote for themselves without causing any conflict, Hesske said, although during last month’s elections for Council president and vice president, Council members were advised to abstain from voting for themselves.

As such, Council reopened elections for the positions, with different results. Dan Schneider, who was elected president last month, was again nominated for the position but received only two affirmative votes, cast by Councilman Brian Schall and himself, while his daughter abstained.

Holody also again was nominated, winning votes from members Michael Matusz, Carol Kramer and herself. With three affirmative votes to Dan Schneider’s two, Holody was named Council’s new president.

Dan Schneider received five “yes” votes to fill the role of vice president, with his daughter again abstaining, and he will take that position.

Also at the meeting, Council discussed the possibility of bringing back liaison assignments among Council members. Last month, Mayer changed the usual meeting format by eliminating reports from Council liaisons, citing a diversion from the chain of command specified in the village’s employee handbook.

Hesske told Council members they have the authority to set up liaisons and/or committees, although those positions hold no power. Their roles should be fact-finding, she said, bringing pertinent information back to the rest of Council.

Mayer noted he thought the roles were being misused, prompting him to craft last month’s meeting agenda without liaison reports.

“I believe [liaison assignments] will be brought back,” he now said.

Council would appoint them, not the mayor, clarified Dan Schneider.

Hesske suggested defining the roles of liaisons and/or committee members prior to reinstating them.

“It’s a new day,” Hesske added.

In other business, Council unanimously approved purchasing a new Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle for the Police Department at a cost of $23,000 after trade-in.

Also, Pam Schneider suggested it is time for the village to hire another full-time police officer. According to Police Chief Joe Varga, there are currently three full-time officers, including himself, and 13 part-time officers. Fiscal Officer John Stiegel said he would bring budget figures to Council at their meeting next month regarding the possibility.

Peninsula Village Council’s next meeting is set for March 10 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Village Hall, located at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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