Monday, July 18, 2011

VC tonight: Solid Waste and Creative Memories

Dear People: We have a light agenda for tonight's Village Council meeting. The main issue I would like feedback on is the issue regarding our solid waste (trash collection) contract--see yellow below. I also give thoughts about the Creative Memories deal, which I will endorse with some reluctance, as I explain below.

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-18 Amending the Zoning Code to Permit Internet Gaming Cafes as Conditionally Permitted Uses in the General Business District--I will vote yest. See my last VC meeting note.

Emergency Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-19
Supplemental Appropriations. This looks like the standard shifting of funds midyear--it does look like costs are running a little higher than expected in some areas, but it's a little hard to tell--I will ask about this. (General fund budget is up by $30K, e.g., but it looks like we have more funds coming in to our Special Revenue sources--up by $35K; and quite a bit of small shifts in the Enterprise funds--but I'm not 100% sure what it all adds up to.)

Second Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-20
Approving Transfer and Sale of Land to Peaches--I will again vote yes; see last VC meeting note from me.

Emergency Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2011-21
Transfer from Electric Fund to Bond Retirement Fund--This is a transfer of $215.01 from Electric Fund to the Bond Retirement Fund. I will likely vote yes, because this is likely a minor blip--I'm not sure why such a small amount is even coming before us, unless perhaps it was inadvertantly left off the original budget.

Resolution 2011-26
Awarding Solid Waste Contract: We have competing proposals from Rumpke and Waste Management. The contract offers are very similar, with Waste Management's offer (probably) being slightly lower, although there are some variables that we can't be 100% sure of. Mark Cundiff, our manager, reasonably argues that the "intangibles" are arguably pretty equal, so he would suggest simply going with the lower of the two bids. However, I am leaning toward Rumpke because I'm hearing some positive feedback, they have been our provider for about 20 years, and they are a more regionally based company I would like to hear from you if you have strong feelings!

Resolution 2011-30
Approving Planning Services Contract with Schwab Planning Group LLC. This looks like a cheaper and more local source for Planning consultation; we've been working with Mr. Schwab for a long time through Woolperts, a national group, and he's now breaking off and becoming his own independent consultant--charging half as much as Woolperts. He's been a good consultant; I will be voting yes.

Resolution 2011-36 Waiving Section 206.01(b) Requiring Formal Bidding for the Purchase of a Police Cruiser. One resident is raising concerns about possibly getting a more energy-efficient alternative to the Crown Victoria cruiser (likely with a higher initial cost), which I hope we will have answers to, but on the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable request as a way to get the car we need and at a lower cost than our normal procedures.

Resolution 2011-37 Approving a Loan to Creative Memories: Pros and Cons: Here's the issue as I see it:

Pros: We need the tax revenues that the excellent jobs provided by companies like eHDS represent. Even if those employees do not live in town, and some of the do and will, we will get their municipal tax dollars by housing their jobs here. We know that good, beyond-minimum wage jobs are key to our sustainability as a community, and we are short on "A-1 office space"--office space that is in good shape, fully furnished, and ready for modern electronics and e-communication networks--of useable dimensions. This wall would create two such "A-1" spaces of a more useable size for most companies, and thus help to promote our economic growth. The forgiveness in the loan is contingent on CM's getting and retaining excellent employers in our community. Thus, there's incentive to getting both sides rented out. So on those levels, this is a reasonable loan.

Cons: I am aware, however, of the sentiment out there that Creative Memories is a big corporation that many would argue has caused pain and even damage to many residents of our community when it closed YS operations awhile back, and it seemingly could use its own funds to make the building more leaseable. The loan has had to be pulled together at the last minute and with some pretty major changes each time I received any new communication about it. So I am a little uneasy about it. I am also uneasy about whether this is good practice for the future--I believe we need better advice on these issues and it's hard to come by clear answers in economic times that are difficult--there's a "bidding wars" context for companies like eDHS between communities that can start to feel a little like blackmail--leadership from the state and national level on this would be helpful but is unlikely to be forthcoming. Finally, it seems frustrating that this is our current capitalist context in which the richest get the easiest access to funds, on the best terms, and those who are poor or just getting started have to go begging and can be easily reviled for any need for government support.

I will, with some concern and ambivalence, likely support this loan, but I am interested to hear your feedback.

I am going to go swimming now. In lieu of a poem, I give you a quotation from and link to the magnificent short story, "The Swimmer," by John Cheever, and urge you all to go read it now
, in some cool place:

"The sun was hot. Neddy Merrill sat by the green water, one hand in it, one around a glass of gin. He was a slender man—he seemed to have the especial slenderness of youth—and while he was far from young he had slid down his banister that morning and given the bronze backside of Aphrodite on the hall table a smack, as he jogged toward the smell of coffee in his dining room. He might have been compared to a summer's day, particularly the last hours of one, and while he lacked a tennis racket or a sail bag the impression was definitely one of youth, sport, and clement weather. He had been swimming and now he was breathing deeply, stertorously as if he could gulp into his lungs the components of that moment, the heat of the sun, the intenseness of his pleasure. It all seemed to flow into his chest. His own house stood in Bullet Park, eight miles to the south, where his four beautiful daughters would have had their lunch and might be playing tennis. Then it occurred to him that by taking a dogleg to the southwest he could reach his home by water. His life was not confining and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape. He seemed to see, with a cartographer's eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county. He had made a discovery, a contribution to modern geography; he would name the stream Lucinda after his wife."

--"The Swimmer" by John Cheever


Saturday, July 9, 2011

PC meeting on Mon: Parks Master Plan and New Barr Property Plans?

<--Image from the Ohio Historical Society
Dear People-- The weather is gorgeous and the summer has suddenly become lush and beautiful. The Iowa farm girl in me noticed that the corn in the field just south of us on Spillan has grown at least a foot in the past week; it's now well over my head, I judge. When I was a kid I swear we could literally hear it growing on very hot, humid, still July nights--there's a kind of popping sound that I think is corn growing. (Although I just tried to verify this fact by consulting Dr. Internet, but I found nothing authoritative, just lots of wonderful anecdata....)

So, looks like we're in for another round of exciting Yellow Springs debate. There's just two things on our PC agenda:

In a nutshell: Home, Inc. and Buckeye propose to develop 37 units of "high quality energy efficient housing for independent seniors aged 55 and older in Yellow Springs" on the Barr property (321 Xenia, corner of Xenia and Limestone.)

This property has a long Planning Commission history, as many of you are aware. A couple of years ago PC and Council approved a plan by the Friends Care Community to build 30 units on that property (plus space for another building and with retail/community space and 4 more dwellings). This proposal has many similarities to that: it's affordable apartment housing for seniors located near the heart of town. It's a different size and shape--2 stories, not three, and the plan is less of a solid block so to me it is more appealing in several ways.

Assuming we can work out issues regarding storm water management on the property and some other problems, my initial inclination is to support this project. I suspect that some of you will disagree with this position, given the history of the last project proposal--hence my assertion that we're in for a debate.

Do let me know if there are specific questions you would like me to ask of the developers about this project.


Well, one of the three books I'm reading right now is John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. There's a whole lot of poetry and power in that book, with a verbal aesthetic that evokes the great graphic art of the 1930s, with noble, dignified workers standing larger-than-life in woodcut landscapes. Here's a few great, and timely, passages:

"Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshipped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insist​s—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. ...
'We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.'
'Yes, but the bank is only made of men.'
'No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it."
(from Chapter 5)

"For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."
(from Chapter 14)

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmurings of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes for revolt went on."
(from Chapter 19)


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

VC tonight: Internet Cafes, Land transfer (Peach's), Solid Waste, Affordable Housing, eHDS(?)/office space, Tree Trimming, Manager Eval.

Dear People--I saw many of you as I marched for Planned Parenthood in yesterday's parade. Thanks for the shout-outs! It was a feel-good experience for an organization that needs some feel good support. (If you want to support them in any way--time, treasures, or talents--talk to me! or go to
!) And ended with an amazing show of fireworks as usual by the Township fire fighters and the Lion's club. Thanks!

Wow--a massively big schedule for tonight.

First Reading of Ordinance 2011-18 Amending the Zoning Code to Allow Internet Cafes as
Conditionally Permitted Uses in the General Business District.
I will vote yes.
First Reading of Ordinance 2011-20 Approving Transfer and Sale of Land to Peaches, Inc. I will vote yes. This is a tiny, narrow "bowtie" of land that is part of the Peach's lot (it's the part of their lot that basically abuts the bike path, running the whole length of their property), that is technically owned by the village, which makes it difficult for them to expand their business. Peach's have spent $1800 having this property surveyed and appraised, and its value is only $600. This ordinance sells it to them for $1. I support this Ordinance.
Resolution 2011-26 Awarding Solid Waste Contract to Waste Management. The manager suggests ending our 20-year relationship with Rumpke and awarding this contract to Waste Management. This will likely change your trash pick up date (so beware!) but it is a lower cost bid than Rumpke, so it would save you money. I support this resolution.
Resolution 2011-28 Approving the Selection of Home, Inc. as the Development Partner for the Cemetery St. Affordable Housing Project I co-sponsored this proposal, and support this resolution. Home Inc has a good, achievable small-scale plan that will create revenue, eventually, and cost very little in the short term, for a needed goal.
Resolution 2011-29 Approving a Farm Lease for Sutton Farm I support this lease agreement. It covers 43 acres of village-owned land.
Resolution 2011-31 OEPA Planning Loan Application for I &I Elimination Inflow and infiltration--I&I is a problem that unnecessarily taxes our waste water treatment plant (wwtp) and system, and can lead to overflows. Storm water goes through the sewer treatment that should not be treated. This was part of why we had to do major improvements to our sewer system. This loan, if successful, will help us do the testing that will help us eliminate this problem.
Resolution 2011-32 OEPA Planning Loan Application for Sanitary Sewer Lift Station
As part of our EPA required improvements to our WWTP, and resolution 31 above, we also need to evaluate our lift station. I support this.
Resolution 2011-33 2012 Tax Budget This is basically pro-forma. I will ask some questions, but I will vote yes.

Important: In addition, in our paper packet was initially included a resolution (2011-34) regarding a proferred loan to eHDS, a local business that provides many well-paying jobs but that may move from YS as a result of lack of space. (See this week's excellent YS News article on the challenges.) This offer was rejected, so the resolution and loan offer were removed from the online packets. From my very limited involvement in this negotation, I believe it is likely that we may consider a revised proposal or at least a report of some sort tonight, but negotiations are on-going.

Due to the confusion of the process, I asked our legal Counsel to weigh in on whether it was proper to remove that legislation, by Sunshine laws. He saw no violation of Sunshine, and provided helpful counsel for how to approach our negotiations with businesses in keeping with the law and the rights of business owners.

I suspect this issue, including the broader issue of the lack of "A-1 office space" in YS will be discussed under New Business.

Chamber Marketing Plan for 2011-2012.
Report of activities and request for our support of $2400 for the Chamber's cooperative marketing of the village and local businesses.

AMP Tree Trimming Update
We are under contract with AMP's forestry division to do some major line clearance work (this is on top of our regular, annual line clearance in another section of the village, which would be done by competitive bidding). The AMP foresters have looked at the area south of Allen Street, and estimate $179,000 to do so. This would come out of the electrical fund, which has money to cover it. I will vote yes, because prevention is the best cure: the electrical outage problems that overgrown trees are creating, cost a lot of money and time and sometimes are even dangerous for people's lives.
Solar Farm Update The solar partners visited the proposed site on Thursday with staff and Council people Hempfling and Walkey. We will have a report on what they saw.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: We will be doing our annual review of Village Manager Cundiff. Feel free to send in input, as well as discussing pending litigation.

An immigrant's decision to love this country, painfully. Happy day after Independence!

Learning to Love America

By Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
because it has no pure products

because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean

because I say we rather than they

because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacaranda bloom in April and May

because my senses have caught up with my body
my breath with the air it swallows
my hunger with my mouth

because I walk barefoot in my house

because I have nursed my son at my breast
because he is a strong American boy
because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is
because he answers I don’t know

because to have a son is to have a country
because my son will bury me here
because countries are in our blood and we bleed them

because it is late and too late to change my mind
because it is time.

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Learning to love America” from What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say. Copyright © 1998 by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Reprinted with the permission of West End Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Source: What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say (West End Press, 1998)