WILMINGTON — The long-debated fluoride ordinance has been tabled until a full engineering report is finished.
During the Water Committee report at Thursday night’s City Council meeting, council member and committee chair Kelsey Swindler informed those in attendance that engineers from Strand Associates were on site for the fluoridation survey at the water treatment plant on Jan. 13. Swindler said that she along with Safety Service Director Brian Shidaker and others at the water department went along as the engineers examined and explored the plant.
“The way they approach this is that they’ll put together three total proposals of various types,” said Swindler. “They were kind of picking our brains as to what council priorities are and I conveyed that council priority is effectiveness and specifically cost-effectiveness and making sure whatever fits for our size city.”
Swindler and Shidaker said the report and proposals would be complete in mid-February. Swindler stated she was encouraged just by seeing the feedback. She said the engineers will work with the Ohio Department of Health and that several concerns that have popped up during council meeting discussions were examined and would be a part of the report.
The floor was then open for discussion among council and the public. Council member Joe Spicer spoke on concerns for citizens with health issues that’ll be affected by fluoridation.
Members of the public then got a chance to speak on the issue. Wilmington resident Laura Struve spoke, saying that she’s a part of the population affected by not fluoridating the water.
“My children’s health has been adversely affected but not fluoridating the water. That’s what their dentist says, that’s what their doctor says. So, you’re already affecting people negatively,” said Struve. “We voted for this 56 percent. If you’re not going to follow what the people democratically said, I don’t know why you asked for our opinion.”
Struve stated that she has had to spend money on fluoride drops for her children and feels that by not going through, it is essentially taxing the citizens.
“If you’re not going to follow through with this, then you owe the citizens who voted for it an explanation,” said Struve.
Spicer said that he is trying to represent those who didn’t vote for it. He expressed that he agreed to go through with allowing the people to vote for the non-binding resolution because it was indeed non-binding.
Steve Sawzin suggested that the water department provide filters to those who may need it and that they do that with a doctor or dentist prescription due to health concerns. Spicer said he could live with that.
David Hockaday said that they need to put a heavy reverse osmosis system, which may cost up to $35,000.
Michael Mandelstein asked council to what right they had to implement this act. Hockaday, who opposes fluoridation, noted that the Safety Water Act in 1974 noted that only a public body could do this.
After further discussions amongst council members and other locals, council ultimately decided to table the reading until after the engineering report comes in. The idea was supported by Swindler, who felt that if they kept postponing the ordinance it would just result in the same points of discussion that were brought up, thus causing an ineffectual discussion.
When discussion was open to the public, Steve Sawzin spoke and gave credit to the council for having a knowledgeable discussion about this topic. He also spoke about health problems that may have been brought about by not having fluoridated water since living in Wilmington the last 40 years.
Also during council:
• Council member Matt Purkey said the judiciary committee will have a discussion over zoning at the next meeting on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. Purkey said they will start the outline of the process and that it’ll be many months of work. He said any interested parties are invited to attend.
• Council member Joe Spicer said the Solid Waste Committee had a meeting before council and discussed several topics about the landfill. These included topics of route automation recap and update, rate adjustments for bulk pickups, and recycling. He said they’ll meet again in two weeks and hopefully have something to bring forward to council.
• Two ordinances making supplemental appropriations were passed during the finance committee report.
• During the water committee report, an ordinance which would authorize advertisement and contract for hauling lime sludge from the water treatment plant, and a resolution which authorized bids and purchase of chemicals for the water department were passed.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574