Finding common ground

On July 22, four local organizations partnered to present the Common Ground Community Conversation. This is the fifth year the Cleveland Foundation has sponsored this outstanding program throughout Northeast Ohio to encourage people to talk, listen and learn from each other in support of a common goal. Kent State Geauga, Geauga Growth Partnership, Leadership Geauga and the Geauga County Public Library welcomed more than 50 participants for lively discussions on the topic of supporting, encouraging and attracting youth to Geauga County.

The common denominator that surfaced early with most people was their pride and love for Geauga County and how willing they were to examine the topic constructively. The diversity of ideas on attracting and retaining youth offered by individuals supplemented the interesting anecdotes shared by the panel of speakers who kicked off the event. Sincere thanks to all who attended and participated.

Our community has a growing need to attract and retain younger workers and residents for the overall effect they have on the life of the community. Common Ground reinforced what we appreciate about our neighbors in Geauga County – that is, their willingness to proactively listen and talk about a concern while seeking ideas and solutions. The appreciation comes from,

Geauga County Public Library, Geauga Growth Partnership, Kent State University Geauga Campus and Leadership Geauga.

Support Chester police levy

Chester Township Police Chief Mark Purchase is a fierce defender and protector of his staff and residents. He also collaborates effectively to support the safety of our surrounding communities. And it was a brilliant move to recruit Lisa Braemer to manage the administrative office. She is a dedicated and beloved public servant.

 The police department budget has been managed and maintained in keeping with the highest standards of responsibility and utilization. When questions or inquiries arise, Chief Purchase responds immediately and with complete transparency.

 Chief Purchase has an obligation to advocate for secure funding. A tentative budget that relies on fund transfers from “extra” or unexplained surplus funds could never provide the solid funding needed to operate the department we depend on for life saving protection and support. 

On a daily basis, members of law enforcement face imminent danger, threat of loss of life and other untenable variables. Funding should not be a variable. 

I am so grateful for our Chester Township police and staff, and I thank them for their service.

I will be voting in support of the Nov. 2 Chester Township Police levy. 

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

Chester Township

Pepper Pike needs master plan

Kudos to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the City of Pepper Pike for partnering to address flooding issues and kudos to Julie Hullett of the Chagrin Valley Times for a well-written article on Aug. 5 on the NEORSD presentation to Pepper Pike City Council. In her article, Jeff Jowett of the NEORSD said, “There are four components of the stormwater management program. The most significant one is the … master plan.”

Ms. Hullett reported that the NEORSD said it was through the master plan that NEORSD could ignore political boundaries, was able to look at the issue holistically and that they had spent significant resources to develop the master plan before they took any action.

Pepper Pike city officials should take a page from NEORSD’s playbook here and develop a master plan on what additional recreational offerings the City of Pepper Pike should invest in prior to committing to just one trail on Gates Mills Boulevard. The trail down the median strip of this residential street would have multiple-street crossings, no parking, and no bathroom facilities.

This master plan would include a concerted effort by the city to first join a consortium to acquire a real park. The establishment of a citizens’ based park commission, reporting to city council, similar to what our surrounding communities have, would also be advisable for many reasons.

Manny Naft

Pepper Pike

Don’t distort truth

To my great dismay, one of the challengers running for Solon Councilman Marc Kotora’s Ward 4 seat has been making unfounded claims mainly about storm related power outages that are acts of Mother Nature and not the fault of any governmental body. Why does the challenger have difficulty telling the truth?

The storms we had in Solon recently were the result of lightning striking a transformer and tree limbs falling on power lines.  They were not the fault of any FirstEnergy power grid.

To blame our councilman or any city official for inaction is very unfair and attempts to create a campaign issue for political purposes, where no such issue exists in reality. I don’t want a distorter of the truth serving on our city council.

We are all inconvenienced when the power goes out and get increasingly frustrated the longer it is.  Recently 80 mph winds tore through the Greater Cleveland area causing 60,000-plus FirstEnergy customers to be without power.

If anyone watches live city meetings or replays of them on the city’s website you will see the great concern of our city officials. I suggest watching the first 15 minutes of the Aug. 11 Safety Committee meeting as a recent example.

Marc Kotora has been there for us every time we have needed him including helping us defeat a terrible developer-initiated rezoning issue involving high-rise apartments near our quiet neighborhood.

Alice Haas


Wake up Chester residents

Last November we lost our zoning inspector after about 10 years of service. The board of trustees seemed in no hurry to hire a replacement. For over 30 years the zoning inspector’s job has been a full-time position, but trustees have now determined that part time is sufficient. It seems they do not want to spend the money for a full-time zoning inspector even though there were several qualified applicants. Trustee Walter “Skip” Claypool is the liaison for the zoning department.

In February, the trustees hired a part-time replacement who lasted two weeks. Also in February, they hired our former zoning inspector to fill in until a permanent replacement was on board. He was confronted with a large number of zoning applications that had not been processed. Also, the file on one case had mysteriously disappeared so he had to start over. Trustees hired a part-time person on June 29 and the former inspector is in the process of training her.

There were three zoning amendments passed in 2019. It took one and a half years to update the zoning resolution on the Chester Township website. There were six amendments passed in 2020 and, to date, the zoning resolution has not been updated and the zoning inspector has not been provided with copies of the 2020 amendments. How can he enforce the zoning regulations and assist residents who have zoning questions if he doesn’t have current information? Every time I have asked why the amendments have not been posted on the website I have been told, “Mr. Claypool is handling that.”

His latest excuse was the fact that they had hired a new zoning department administrative assistant.

Yes they did – in January of 2021. What’s taking so long?

Since January 2021, Mr. Claypool has also been handling the arrangements for the demolition of the Henry House located on Mayfield Road. Three bids were received for the demo in December of 2020. The March 25 trustees minutes state that two companies had canceled their bids. Mr. Claypool denied knowing anything about that and he is in charge. In the meantime, Chester Township is paying utility bills for that house! Again, what’s taking so long?

It’s time Chester residents wake up and find out what is happening at Town Hall. The trustees minutes of public meetings are posted on the Chester Township website Better yet, attend township meetings and judge for yourself.

Chester is a wonderful place to live. I am a life-long Chester resident and I am very concerned about the future of our township. You should be concerned, too!

There is an election in November when you can vote on two township trustees. I hope you will vote responsibly and save Chester Township.

Linda Barnes Gifford

Chester Township

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