Wauseon Mayor Kathy Huner appeared to be blindsided Monday by City Council’s approval to have legislation drafted that would transfer Wauseon’s recreational programming duties to the city’s Park Board.
The 5-1 vote will allow Law Director Tom McWatters III to draft a statute that would take responsibility of the city’s recreational programming from the Wauseon Recreation Association (WRA). Councilor Harold Stickley cast the dissenting vote.
Councilor Shane Chamberlin introduced the plan during the “new business” portion of the meeting’s agenda. He read a prepared statement asking Council members to support the proposed legislation.
In part, the statement read: “The purpose of such a resolution is to provide Council with a working document, a starting point, per say (sic), as members enter into discussion in attempt to determine the best practice when it comes to providing recreation programming to the members of our community.”
Chamberlin has previously questioned the WRA’s role in creating programming.
He said conversation at a Committee of the Whole meeting May 2 led to the proposed legislation. He said McWatter’s draft would serve merely as a launching point for further discussion about who should carry the city’s recreational programming duties.
“So that is what I am bringing forth today, is to seek the majority support of my fellow Council members to simply create or draft a working document, a starting point, per se, that we can deliberate about and go from,” he said.
Huner, however, took exception to Chamberlin’s proposal. “I thought this council decided that they were going to try to get personnel from Park Board and from Council to be put on the WRA board so that that representative of Council would be the person bringing forth that information to Council,” she said.
Huner also appeared to be taken aback that the proposed legislation was discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting.
“I just really thought that we were going to work with the WRA and have a representative,” she said.
They mayor said she had surmised that that was the direction Council was taking. “So I guess my question is, why are we changing?” she said. “But if you guys want to move forward with this, there’s nothing I can do.”
Chamberlin said he asked McWatters in March 2018 to draft a working document that would move or assign the city’s recreation programming to the Park Board. He said McWatters told him a majority vote by Council would be necessary in order to proceed.
Chamberlin said he waited to reintroduce his proposal to give time for an established agreement between the city and the WRA to develop. “This is in no way enacting the movement or the assignment of recreational programming to the Park Board. This is just allowing a document to be created…that we can have deliberation about, and maybe nothing changes,” he told Council members.
Prior to the vote, Stickley said he had assumed that he and Councilor Scott Stiriz were to act as city representatives at WRA meetings. Stickley said he was unaware that new legislation would be introduced.
He pointed out there has been no communication between the city and the WRA since the group’s president and treasurer resigned a few months ago and were replaced.
Huner added she doesn’t think the city should take over the WRA or its funding. She said any related discussion should involve the group.
“I think they have some great ideas to bring forward as well,” she said.
Monday’s meeting began with an annual meeting between Council and Clinton Township Trustees. It was used to reappoint Chamberlin to the Wauseon Cemetery Board for a three-year term.
Trustee Ivan Hite also used the occasion to inform Council the trustees have approved a resolution for a proposed tax levy to provide and maintain the township’s fire equipment and to provide related fire expenses.
“It’s never fun when you have to look at options to come up with monies to fund something that is needed,” Hite said.
In a department report, Assistant Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said approximately 50 children have been signed for the city’s upcoming Safety City classes, scheduled June 3-14 and June 17-28. He said about 50 percent of the event has been funded.
Chittenden said upcoming police department programs include the annual Youth Police Academy from June 10-14 for Fulton County students in grades 6-12, although preference for the 20 available spots will be given to Wauseon students. He said an adult Use of Force class will be held in one-hour blocks May 22 and May 29.
Public Service Director Dennis Richardson reported that letters were sent May 2 to residents offering an opportunity to opt out of the city’s aggregate electrical supply. He said residents preferring to remain in the aggregation can ignore the notice.
Richardson said the city pool is scheduled to open Memorial Day, May 27, with free admission on that day. A ceremony to install a plaque commemorating pool donors will be held May 22 at 1 p.m.
Richardson said maintenance of the city’s tennis courts in Reighard Park is scheduled this summer.
He also noted that a public meeting about Fulton County’s comprehensive plan will be held today at 6 p.m. at Wauseon Public Library, 117 E. Elm St. “It’s an opportunity for all citizens of Fulton County to have input to revising the comprehensive plan. I encourage attendance with that,” Richardson said.
Finance Director Jamie Giguere said falling city income tax revenue got a boost in April.
In other new business, approval was granted for a C1 liquor permit for S&G Stores LLC, and for D1 and D2 liquor permits for Train Track LLC, the latter transferred from Kam Wah 28 restaurant, 1432 N. Shoop Ave. And Council accepted a letter of registration from Richardson, effective Sept. 1, for the purpose of retirement.
The city Tree Commission honored local business leader Tim Dennis with its Booster of the Year award for his involvement in creating the Indian Hill Trail adjacent to Homecoming Park.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.