WILMINGTON — There is consensus on city council to contact the Ohio Municipal League for input regarding the option of asking residents whether they wish to pursue a charter government for Wilmington.
During Thursday’s council session, Wilmington City Councilman Matt Purkey (4th Ward – R) asked Wilmington Service/Safety Director Brian Shidaker to reach out to the Ohio Municipal League, which is a non-profit statewide association incorporated in 1952 to serve the interests of Ohio municipal governments.
Purkey, who is chairperson of council’s Judiciary Committee, emphasized that the prospect of adopting a charter for the town is little more than an idea at this stage. He said elected officials have a duty to look into anything that may make operations more efficient or more cost-effective.
Councilmembers also underscored that for Wilmington to become a charter city, residents would have to approve proposals two separate times at the ballot box.
In brief, a charter is the constitution of a city, and is written by an elected charter commission. A 1912 amendment to the Ohio Constitution granted cities the ability to frame and adopt a charter for their community.
Several members of city council said they have received feedback from the public on the charter city possibility.
Council Member-at-large Kelsey Swindler (D) said people who have spoken with her have said things like “sounds good.” She added they were “not overly fired up.”
Councilman Jonathan McKay (1st Ward – R) said he has received at least two dozen responses, describing it as “a lot of mixed reviews.” One thing he has heard is people don’t want government operations to turn out like Cincinnati’s.
Purkey said the feedback he has heard the most is why change for the sake of changing? A lot of people wonder what the benefits would be from making the change, he said.
Council Member-at-large Tyler Williams (D) said going through the Ohio Municipal League at this juncture is the best thing to do.
Purkey said he would definitely want city officials to speak with representatives of another Ohio municipality that has “recently navigated those [charter process] waters.”
Swindler at one point said there consistently have been little issues arise that the Ohio Revised Code does not address that people find very frustrating, and that’s a reason why some places have switched to charters.
Charters, like constitutions, can be amended, said Purkey.
Also from council chambers:
• Two pieces of legislation were approved to help fund the construction of a planned paved extension of the Luther Warren Peace Path bike trail from Nelson Avenue in Wilmington to Ogden Road in Adams Township. Ultimately, the extension is intended to be part of a connector from Clinton County to the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Morrow (Warren County), said City Administrator Marian Miller.
• Shidaker reported that a kickoff meeting to develop a source water protection plan for the city was well attended. Attendees included representatives of the EPA, Clinton County Port Authority, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Wright State University, and staff from Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Clinton, Warren and Greene Counties.
The service director also said there will be a community meeting 1 p.m. Thursday, March 28 to obtain input about the Rombach Avenue corridor roadway improvements project planned for 2020. The meeting will be held at the Robert Moyer Community Room on the first floor of city hall.
The meeting’s purpose is to collect feedback from interested citizens and representatives of Rombach businesses regarding their concerns and desires for the heavily traveled east-end corridor.
• Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Clinton County chapter) Co-President Carrie Zeigler gave a talk about the new local chapter of the charitable organization. She noted as a former elementary school principal that an educator “sees and hears all kinds of stories of children who struggle everyday.”
Six newly built bunk beds were delivered on Sunday, she said, adding that the faces of the children when they see their new bed are priceless.
The chapter has a waiting list of about 85 children, said Zeigler.
Those wishing to help the cause can donate money or new bedding, and churches, clubs and businesses can sponsor build days by providing funds and/or volunteers to build beds.
Zeigler’s contact information is 937-728-0986 and firstname.lastname@example.org .
• Councilwoman Kristi Fickert said a new fundraiser has been launched to build a fence around the perimeter of the planned Castle Park II playground. A picket fence post can be purchased and can be engraved with a message of your choice (17 character limit), and be a part of the playground for years.
The cost is $35 per picket, but will go up to $50 if purchased after March 4. If interested, please visit wilmingtonparks.com and click on the “Buy Your Picket” button.
Demolition of the current wooden castle at the park is planned for early March. “Build Week: Creating the Castle Park II” is planned for May 13 through 19.
• Mayor John Stanforth swore in Bradly Burton as a new Wilmington firefighter.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.