Wauseon Council Reverses Howard Avenue Parking Law Amid Frustration Of Residents

The Wauseon City Council entertained the concerns of a faction of Howard Avenue residents, leading to a parking change on the street, at their February 20th meeting.

Dr. Conrado Jensen was the first to address council, saying that the parking situation on Howard Avenue was hazardous. After a sudden law change several years ago that moved parking from the east side to the west side of the street, Dr. Jensen claimed there have been numerous accidents, including his street-parked car being hit with enough force to push it onto the sidewalk.

“I urge you to take the topic with the seriousness it deserves because there are a number of children that live on and play on Howard Avenue,” he said.

A Howard Avenue resident for 67 years, James Gype cited that the eight residences on the east side of the street have a much higher chance of causing a collision with vehicles on the narrow road when backing out versus the only three residences on the west side. Gype also expressed concern with the lack of communication and transparency when the rule was changed several years ago, after parking on the east side had been the standard for “decades”.

“Why in the world would we change something that was never broken to begin with?,” he asked.

Citing the residents’ experience and past conversations with former mayor Doug Shaw at the time the regulation was changed, the most accepted conclusion was that the reversal of the long-standing parking standard was the result of a rather bizarre executive decision.

“There’s no record stating that there was a committee meeting by the safety and code that they met and discussed to change [the parking],” Mayor Kathy Huner told residents.

After hearing the residents’ concerns, council unanimously approved the Street Committee’s recommendation to only allow parking on the east side of Howard Avenue.

“It’s common sense that when you have cars parked on the opposite side of where most of the driveways are, the chances of accident increase. So I think the street committee’s recommendation… is an opportunity for a wrong to be corrected,” Councilor Shane Chamberlin said in presenting the committee’s recommendation.

“Really, we do. We listen to the people, because they’re the ones that live there. They’re the ones that give us information,” Mayor Huner said, reassuring residents their voices are always welcomed.

In further committee reports, Councilor Rick Frey reported that, in a recent meeting, the Tree Commission discussed upcoming tree workshops in the area and the upcoming Tree City USA presentation on May 3rd in Lakeside, OH. The group also expressed interest in planting five trees at Homecoming Park and volunteering to fertilize young trees in the park as a group.

Councilor Scott Stiriz reported that Public Works Superintendent Dave Murray assured the Park Board in their February 14th meeting that the city has budgeted $50,000 to continue the paving project at Biddle Park, as well as the placement of another pavilion in the park to be placed on the north end near the Midget Football activities.

Stiriz also said the board heard a presentation from the Wauseon Rotary Club regarding their efforts to create a recreational area through a 31 acre plot of woods located at Homecoming Park. The plan, to be completed in stages, includes a 3.1 mile cross country course, a natural preservation area with a walking path, and an exercise station.

In department head reports, Assistant Chief of Police Bill McConnell told council the recent “Coffee with a Cop” event held at The Upper Crust was a success with the good, informal conversation held between residents and law enforcement officers. Along with varying the locations, McConnell said the department will likely vary times and days of the week that future installments are held to continue being accessible to all residents.

Public Service Director Dennis Richardson reported that revisions to the design of a new city pool were forwarded to Astro Pool Company of Mansfield, Ohio and Duket Architects of Toledo. The department hopes to receive a new bid packet for the pool house from the architect soon.

Richardson also reported being approached by the Miller-Valentine Group of Cincinnati, the developers of the Wauseon Senior Village regarding a proposed addition north of the present property. The group is seeking information from the department and the city’s Utilities Committee to move forward with an application for federal funding aid.

Council also approved the suspension of three readings and emergency passage of resolutions:

-Authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Maumee Valley Planning Organization for certain land use planning services
-Accepting the recommendations of the Revolving Loan Committee, authorizing the mayor to enter into certain agreements
-Supporting the designation of proposed state bicycle routes by the Ohio Department of Transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials.

Council also approved the first reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter an agreement with the Fulton County Commissioners for sanitary sewer services and motions accepting the appointments of Jerry Borton to the Maumee Planning Executive Council for a one year term and Dennis Richardson as an essential employee.

The next Wauseon City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 6 at 5:00 pm in Council Chambers.

Cory Johnson may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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