Circleville Council on Tree Commission, Downtown Development, Mill Street Gym


With two seats vacant in Circleville Council Tuesday evening - after the death of Tammy Bowers, and Monica Justinger moving out of her ward - they could not pass any new legislation.  

But several topics were covered in the following Long Range & Strategic Planning Committee meeting. 

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Council discussed lessons learned from Chillicothe's tree commission. 

Lisa Bowers is the regional urban forester for Central Ohio, and she spoke about more than two years of planning for a Circleville tree commission.  She says the volunteers creating the commission have learned a lot from Chillicothe's.

After the discussion, the Long Range & Strategic Planning Committee sent the draft ordinance to the Law Director for review.  Bowers said she hoped to see the commission enacted by summer. 

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The chair of the Long Range & Strategic Planning Committee covered two renovation topics in Circleville Council. 

Tom Spring said they decided to act on pursuing a Downtown Revitalization District. He said he will talk to the city auditor about starting to fund it, without hurting the budget. 

But the part of old Everts School the city still owns, was not so easily discussed.  Spring said the "Mill Street Gym" has been a source of comments, criticism, and controversy for the last two years - and there's a split in council on what to do with it. 

The historic century-old high school building is being renovated into senior housing by a private developer, while the deteriorating athletic and industrial arts wing remains vacant and owned by the city. 

It's proposed to be a city arts and rec center, but a lack of hard figures on how much work it needs is frustrating a council that has a tight budget...and Ted Lewis Park waiting in the wings for renovation, too.  Much effort was expended recently in re-planning the aged downtown park. 

Spring says they will try to get Mill Street Gym estimates from the administration, as well as learn the status of a $200,000 grant from the state that can be use only on the building. 

Mayor Don McIlroy says a labor union has offered to donate labor on rebuilding a service road for Ted Lewis Park, which will then need then $100,000 from the city to pave it.  That will be the first step in renovating the park.  

Spring agrees there is competition and tension between the two public projects, but he believes both can be done - and that council needs to be true to the voters who passed a parks & rec levy, and spend the money collected. 

Kevin Coleman regularly reports on Chillicothe & Circleville councils


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