Should Plain City pay for port-o-potties at the park?

By Andrea Chaffin

June 24, 2014

Should the Village of Plain City pay for port-o-potties at Pastime Park for each organization utilizing the property?

Council members debated the question for about 30 minutes Monday during the end of its regular meeting. The issue was raised after council member Leslie Perkins — who is also organizing the privately-funded July 4 festival in the village — asked council earlier in the meeting to pay about $335 to put three portable toilets at the park.

Council unanimously agreed to provide toilets for the festival — as well as “donate” the park during the day’s events — given the village no longer pays for the fireworks, due to previous budget cuts. But, some council members, including Nick Kennedy, questioned if the action set a precedent requiring council pay for the toilets for every organization renting the park.

Previously, there were restroom facilities in the village-owned park. But, the building has since been taken down after the facility became inoperable. The restrooms were in working when contracts for various events, such as the Miami Valley Steam Threshers Show, were signed, said Village Administrator Kevin Vaughn.

A representative from the Steam Threshers Show in attendance at the meeting asked council why the port-o-potties could not be provided for them, another nonprofit, private entity, as well.

“We’ve done a lot of work for that park,” the representative said from the gallery. “The businesses profit from the people we bring in.”

Village Solicitor Paul Michael LaFayette asked Perkins if the July 4 committee was listed as a nonprofit. It is, Perkins answered.

“Not to take away from this event … but from the budget cuts we had to make, this is a privately-funded event,” LaFayette said. “If you’re going to waive the cost for the Fourth of July, my position would be you should probably waive it for the Steam Threshers, as well.”

“This falls under no good deed goes unpunished,” Kennedy said.

Council also discussed looking into the cost to put the portable toilets at the park throughout the entire season until a permanent structure is put in place.

“I think if we go enter into a contract with anybody (from now on), we let them know the park is rented as is,” said council member Shawn Kaeser.

In other business, Gahanna-based GGC Engineering gave a presentation to council about adding landscaping and various design elements to make the uptown district more business-friendly and pedestrian-friendly.

The engineering firm specializes in hiding power lines, which often drape over downtown streets in a less-than-appealing fashion. Electrical would be moved underground or in spaces behind main streets.

Company president Michael Carder and vice president Brian Winkler presented three options for Plain City, focusing on Main Street from the library to old U.S. Route 42.

The first — and most economical — includes moving power lines underground and adding landscaping. The second option adds in “bump outs” — brick sidewalk areas reaching out into the streets, and the third — and most dramatic — option eliminates the turn lane on Main Street and adds in angled parking, as well as a “destination point” at the corner of Main and Chillicothe streets with benches and landscaping.

Not including “soft costs” such as engineering fees, the projects were estimated to cost $1.4 to $1.8 million.

As part of the presentation, David Kell, of the Madison County Economic Future Community Improvement Corp., spoke to council about various state grants which provide funding for such projects.

Council took no action on the subject.

In other business, council:

• Passed an amendment to its budget allowing the village to spend $266,000 to replace a bucket truck and buy a one-ton dump truck and wood chipper. The money will also be used to replace water meters and the village salt barn. Perkins, who questioned the amendment during previous meetings, was the sole council member voting no.

• Discussed what color the water tower should be painted, and whether the village should sell advertising on the tower for additional revenue. Members agreed light blue is a good color from keeping the water tower from standing out.

• Passed resolutions to allow uptown corner businesses to have two signs, and to restrict residential properties on main floors in the B-3 District.

• Went over social media and Sunshine Laws, upon request by Kaeser during a previous meeting. LaFayette encouraged council members to “use caution” on social media, and only deliberate public issues and vote during public meetings. Members may, however, use social media to bring attention to issues.

• Announced residents may view and pay water and sewer bills online.

Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.