So far, Wauseon’s July 4 fireworks celebration is still a go, but COVID-19 restrictions will likely affect how the event is held.
During a City Council meeting streamed live Monday on Facebook, Mayor Kathy Huner said the holiday fireworks show was never canceled, and that fireworks have been ordered. During the brief discussion she said it’s probable adjustments to the event will be made to comply with numerous restrictions mandated by Governor Mike DeWine. Huner did not elaborate on those restrictions.
“So far, we’re ready for the boom,” she said.
Huner also notified Council members that the city’s administration building at 230 Clinton St. reopened to the public on Monday. She said visitors will not be required to wear masks but will be offered masks as an option. Plexiglas barriers have been installed at the Water Department and police department offices.
Huner said visitors will be requested to wear masks in the building’s office areas without the barriers.
Monday’s meeting opened with a public hearing regarding a request by Sara’s Garden to rezone a land parcel at 854 S. Shoop Ave. from R1-single family to B4-multi-community. The facility, which specializes in medical and behavioral therapies and conductive education, purchased the former First Baptist Church and a rear building at the Shoop Avenue location to establish a combination vocational school/coffee shop.
Following a lengthy discussion, Council members approved the rezoning request.
City resident Dan Church, whose property abuts the parcel, opened the discussion with concerns about future plans to convert the rear building into a rental property for private or public gatherings. Church said he was concerned about late-night and weekend events at the facility that could affect children in nearby homes.
Huner said plans to turn the rear building into a rental property are not final but are considered a possibility for its future use. She said Sara’s Garden is currently concentrating solely on converting the vacant church into a space to use for vocational services for clients, which would include a coffee shop.
Councilor Steve Schneider said the coffee shop is planned so that students who leave Sara’s Garden would have a place to work, since their employment at traditional retail businesses is probably limited.
“This would give them a location to earn some money, do something meaningful,” he said.
The council also approved a motion of support for a project by Oasis Christian Fellowship to hang planters on downtown city lampposts. Church member Vic Cales told Council members the church is willing to donate all proceeds from a May 26 taco fundraiser to purchase the hanging baskets. He said they would represent support for the city’s small businesses that have realized significant loss due to the state’s COVID-19 shutdown order.
“It would be a great way to say, ‘We care about you, small business downtown, realizing what you’ve been through’…and create an atmosphere down there,” he said. “We realize many people have suffered in ways we don’t even know about.”
Cales said five people have already expressed interest in “adopting” a lamppost for the project at a cost of $200 each.
Councilor Shane Chamberlin said he approves of the idea but has concerns about how the baskets would be maintained. “It just seems like what we put downtown sometimes, you know, it just doesn’t take off…It’s just a matter of care after they’re installed,” he said.
Huner echoed his concerns, saying, “Putting all this time and money and effort in is a lot of work for a lot of volunteers in the city…We do have to make sure it is maintained and taken care of, because it’s not an easy task. (But) I love the idea. If we can promote our downtown businesses and try to bring more people in, anything like that is great.”
Cales said volunteers from the Wauseon Beautification Team, of which he is a member, can maintain the hanging baskets. He also suggested help from Parks and Recreation employees, whose work on city sports fields could be lessened by a canceled summer recreation program.
In department reports:
• Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said his department is “just battling through this COVID stuff like everyone else.” He said the department is well-stocked with personal protective equipment.
• In a report read in his absence, Public Service Director Keith Torbet said the water line for the ongoing South Shoop Avenue project has been installed. He said the line is undergoing testing before it’s put into use. The project should be completed late in May or early in July, weather permitting.
Torbet also reported that city water reservoirs are within acceptable levels for algae blooms. The reservoirs had experienced an algae problem.
• Law Director Tom McWatters III said an asphalt material has been applied to almost the entire section of the city’s Indian Hill Trail in the northern woods.
In other business, Council members approved the first reading for an ordinance amending Codified Ordinance Chapter 1117 to establish districts and maps and amend the official zoning map, and passed on emergency a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into the 2020 Maumee Valley East Chip Consortium Partnership Agreement. Other participants in the agreement include Fulton and Henry counties and the City of Napoleon.
The council also approved permission for Torbet to apply for an Ohio Department of Transportation Small Cities Grant to cover costs for a project on South Brunell and West Chestnut streets.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.