Park appointee has his say 

Yes, folks I am one of those "incompetent park appointees" that our Russell Township trustee chairman so delicately referenced in one of the local paper's articles about the second park board issue passing on Nov. 7. In spite of my lack of competency, I wish to correct some the false narratives being spread about the workings of the existing park board during the Modroo acreage acquisition process, as I was involved in every step.

First, there is a completely false storyline that we commissioners were against the acquisition of the Modroo acreage from the beginning and that we fought to scuttle any deal. The fact is that I was asked to vote to go ahead with the very sketchy plan to proceed with purchasing the acreage at the second park board meeting that I attended. This was with no clear definition of what we were buying, what the costs were, what the terms of the deal were, what the appraised value was, and how much of our budget would be used. As a steward of public funds, I wasn't going to sign off on that "plan". The previous board had a roadmap drawn up to pay whatever the seller of the acreage wanted with no apparent thought to what the true market value of the land was.  I have been in sales and marketing nearly my whole working life and a very important skill one acquires is how to negotiate so that a deal produces a good outcome for both parties. We didn't have that. I likened it to a scenario where you walk into the car dealer and ask how much that nice red car is and they ask you how much doyou have to spend. Surprise, that nice red car's price is exactly how much you have to spend. We had every intention to purchase the acreage but based on what we were gifted from the previous commissioners, the seller had all the leverage and we were hamstrung in what we could do.

We had an appraisal done and I talked with a local developer in order to get an idea of what the land is worth. It appeared that the land wasn't worth what the seller was asking as it had been on the market for over a year with no takers. But, because the seller knew that the pressure would ratchet up on the park board to buy it, there wasn't any downward movement in the price. Based on this research, we came to a figure of what we as a park district would pay, and if our partners at the Land Conservancy could come up with some more, then we'd have a deal. Thus the outlay of $1.2 million from the park board for the acreage, not $1.55 million, and the rest came from several other donors. How this qualifies as “fight the acquisition of the Modroo farmland,” I don't know.

Additionally, there have been comments and accusations to the effect that we as a board wanted to open up the park owned land to active recreation and use, as if that's a crime. I have been very outspoken both before, during and after my term on the park board that I don't agree with using the park owned properties as drive-by parks. The park goals and bylaws set up in 1984 are very specific:  that the land acquired by the board be available for "year-round recreation activities and facilities" and "to promote adequate and equitable access to its facilities for all residents of Russell Township". Somewhere along the way the previous park commissioners lost sight of these goals so carefully laid out by the founders.

Pretty clear to me that the goals of this group that pushed this new park board have nothing to do with forming what most people know as parks, they are much more interested in land preservation with no access or recreation. That's fine, just be honest. 

Charlie Butters, Russell 

Thanks for levy passage 

I would like to thank our residents of Russell Township for their support in passing the operating levy on Nov. 7.

The passage of this levy will allow the Russell Police Department to continue to provide our community with the finest police service and protection for our residents. The department will continue the principles of community oriented policing and being a partner of the community while fairly enforcing laws.

On behalf of the officers of the Russell Police Department, I thank the residents of Russell Township for their continued support.

Chief Timothy Carroll, Russell  

Grants to support vital projects  

Protect Geauga Parks congratulates the Geauga Park District on their work with the Chagrin River Watershed Partners to secure grants for two important watershed restoration projects.One project will restore a section of the Griswold Creek watershed in Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park and the other will restore a section of the Beaver Creek wetland in the Bass Lake Preserve.

This is important work that will benefit all residents of Geauga County and ultimately help to keep the waters of Lake Erie clean, which is a benefit to millions of people. These are the kind of projects that Protect Geauga Parks has been advocating for the past few years and hopes to see more often.  Partnership with groups such as the Chagrin Watershed Partners makes good sense for the health of our community, the beauty and sustainability of the parks and the economy of the entire region.

We know that projects such as this are the product of years of work and study. We are grateful that the Geauga Park District has a dedicated and knowledgeable staff of natural resource experts such as park biologist Paul Pira to spearhead these efforts and provide continuity with groups such as the Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

We are thankful that grants such as these are available through important funding programs such as the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Projects such as these have provided immense benefits with at least a 2-to-1 economic payback to the region in other places around the Great Lakes. We hope that the Geauga Park District will continue this kind of impressive work. 

Kathryn Hanratty, Chardon 

Wanting to just say no 

I was looking out my window on South Main Street in Chagrin Falls and realized I would like to just “Say No.”  I’d like to say no to shoveling snow this winter. I’d like to say no to brushing and flossing.  Perhaps I’ll say no to paying my taxes. 

The Village of Chagrin Falls Architectural Board of Review is governed by the village code.  Yes, it has to be interpreted by the board, but one’s personal opinion and heart cannot “just say no.” 

The proposing demolisher must present a “preponderance of evidence” that the structure cannot be saved within the code.  The current house proposed for demolition has the future neighbors and half the town rightly in an uproar. “Why are they doing that?” 

Our mayor and law director are very supportive on guiding us to save historical structures within the scope of the code.  The answer for more control of demolition is a tighter village code. 

It would be great to “just say no” we are very pro old house, but it is very complicated by the rule of law. 

Steven King, Chagrin Falls 

Levy passage appreciated 

It is with great pride and gratitude that I say thank you to the residents of South Russell Village for their approval of the 1.5 mill, five-year road levy designed to repave five of the longest roads in the village.

We have delayed repaving Bel Meadow, Lake Louise, Ashleigh, Kensington Circle and Sheerbrook, choosing to maintain the smaller streets and cul-de-sacs of the village.  Residents have been patiently waiting for their roads to be resurfaced.  Over the next five years we will be able to perform preventive repairs to improve our roads and avoid costly future maintenance. 

Mayor Bill Koons, South Russell Village

Don’t stereotype kids

I am writing in response to recent police briefs in which there was a complaint about a group of kids in the plaza. They were described as “vagabond Kenston kids” and “did not look like they belonged in Chagrin.” I find these observations to be utterly offensive. To differentiate between Kenston and Chagrin kids is unacceptable. These assumptions promote stereotypes and unfair judgments which is injurious to the individuals targeted, and to our joint communities. Let’s stand for all kids; our inclusivity serves to strengthen both our communities. 

Linda Levi, Chagrin Falls 

Board protects historic homes                

My faith in local government was restored when I attended the Chagrin Falls Architectural Review Board meeting on Nov 7. There was a lengthy discussion about a proposal to demolish a house in the historical district. The recent purchasers of one of the oldest homes in Chagrin apparently underestimated the size of the project they began, and were looking for relief from the ARB.

Despite their four experts attempts to intimidate the ARB members, the board listened to both the homeowners and neighbors intently. Both the voting members of the board and the advisory members made it clear that their main job was to protect the historical nature of the community and neighborhood. I was impressed by their questions and knowledge, and am confident that they will make the right decision.    

Gary Welch, Chagrin Falls 

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