Avon Growth News, 6-6-02 to 7-27-03

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6-22-02: Cleveland Clinic considering buying land in Avon
7-3-02: Aldelphia goes bankrupt
11-20-02: Money grab
12-15-02: Pickering Hill Farm is safe for now
12-16-02: Ohioans favor Commuter Rail
3-27-03: New Park is French Creek Restoration Project
5-6-03: Primary Election Results
6-1-03: Finding landmarks, attracting tourists
7-3-03: A flood of new homes

FEATURE ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 5-30-02, By Sheila Grissett, Newhouse News Service

``Trees bear nature's peace plan

Science has long recognized trees as royalty in the ecosystem: They cleanse air and water of pollutants, mitigate extreme temperatures and reduce erosion, flooding and storm damage - all while giving food and sanctuary to wildlife.

Now there's growing evidence that green space so profoundly affects the spirit and psyche that trees actually might be playing as great a role in human nature as in Mother Nature.

"Urban greenery is important psychologically; it provides a safety valve, giving respite from the constant tension imposed by the built environment," says Charles Lewis, author of "Green Nature Human Nature." ...

Social scientists say this release manifests itself in myriad ways, from improved relationships in schools, neighborhoods and families to reduced potential for aggression and road rage among American motorists ...

University of Washington research scientist Kathy Wolf recently took a much different look at trees in urban life - asking if they affect shopping habits - and she came away convinced that green actually begets green.

In fact, Wolf suggests all retail businesses might want to consider adding nature to every door and parking lot.

Her research in a string of major cities from the Northwest to the Southeast showed that consumers do some extraordinary things under the influence of trees, including: drive extra miles to shop in well-landscaped areas, pay more to park when they get there if it's shaded parking and spend an average of 11 percent more for their purchases ...''

Contact Sheila Grissett at sgrissett@timespicayune.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 6-22-02, By ANDREA MIGHT, Morning Journal Writer

``Clinic considering buying land in Avon

AVON -- The Cleveland Clinic is interested in purchasing land in Avon for future use, and if anything is built there it would be for outpatient care ...

''It is the biggest growth area in the county,'' said Clinic spokesman Scott Tennant. ''I think it has obvious attractions as a city.''...

Tennant wouldn't discuss locations or the search process.

''In most cases we don't go looking for land. We have developers and other people who own land approach us,'' he said.

If the clinic decides to buy any land, he said, it could be a long time before anything is done with it. He said it is common to purchase a piece of land and hold onto it for future use.

Tennant said a future outpatient care facility could include doctors' offices and perhaps an outpatient surgery facility ...''

[How does the Clinic's loss of $380 million in speculative stock investments affect any plans it may have for Avon?]

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NEWS ARTICLE from The PRESS, 7-3-02, By Lori E. Switaj

``... Adelphia bankruptcy filing June 25 [2002] in a New York U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The filing came one week after the company failed to pay $96 million in bond interest and preferred stock dividend payments. Locally, the company serves both Avon and Sheffield Lake.

Avon Mayor Jim Smith was uncertain how the Adelphia filing will affect his city's contract or services, but does not see any imminent problems. "We still have a contract with Adelphia," Smith said.

"We're trying to figure out where we stand. The filing could have a lot of ramifications."

Following Adelphia's filing, Avon's law director John Gasior started looking into how it may affect the city.

"This is new territory for us," Smith said. "We've got a bankrupt company here."

A spokesperson for Adelphia stated the company's cable service will continue for the time being as the company reorganizes.

Adelphia is currently paying its cable franchise fees to Avon, unlike its relationship with Sheffield Lake. The company owes Sheffield Lake approximately $78,000 in fees. City residents submitted a host of service-related complaints going back to last year.

Adelphia's downfall began on March 27, when it disclosed that a Rigas family partnership had borrowed $2.3 billion using company assets as collateral. The company serves over 200 communities in the greater Cleveland area ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 11-20-02, By JENNIFER HICKIN, Morning Journal Writer

``Lorain eyes more than $1 million in county cash

LORAIN -- The city believes 22 municipalities in the county received a total of $1,855,724 in state funding that belonged to Lorain, according to an appeal filed with the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.

According to the appeal filed Monday night, Lorain believes the other cities, villages and townships got an overallocation of $229,664 in Revenue Assistance Funds and $1,626,060 in Local Government Funds for 2003 and it asks that the money be reallocated to Lorain.

City Council passed two ordinances on Monday allowing Mayor Craig Foltin to file the appeal and to retain Ohio Governmental Financial Management to oversee it.

Of four cities named in the appeal, Avon would be hardest hit if Lorain wins. It wouldn't receive almost $270,000 that Foltin wants ...

At issue is the formula used by Lorain County to distribute funds coming from the state to various municipalities. The appeal says Lorain believes the Lorain County Budget Commission should have allocated funds for 2003 according to the statutory method of distribution.

The city hopes the appeal will prove that the LCBC alternate formula currently used for funding is invalid ...

Lorain's appeal says Avon received an overallocation of $33,286 in RAF funds and $235,692 in LGF funds.

''If Lorain gets a bigger percentage of the money, that means someone else isn't getting it,'' said Avon Mayor Jim Smith. ''We're not in dire straights here, but I'm looking at it as a county issue.''

''All the people involved should sit down and go over the situation they're in and try to come to some agreement rather than hire a company that will charge 20 percent,'' Smith said. ''I don't think that's in the best interest of the city of Lorain or Lorain County in general.'' ...""

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 11-20-02, By Dan Harkins

``Lorain request would take funds from other areas

LORAIN -- Twenty-three county cities, villages and townships could lose a substantial portion of their state funding if an appeal filed by the city of Lorain is successful.

Under the current funding formula, which has been in place since 1984, Lorain is set to receive $3.467 million next year, or about 17 percent of the estimated $20 million the county will have to divide among its 35 subdivisions.

But on Monday, Lorain City Council voted to hire a company to go after a larger share by asking the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals to rule the current formula invalid ...

The city agreed to pay the company it hired, Ohio Governmental Financial Management Inc., 20 percent of whatever first-year increase in state funding it receives as a result of the appeal. It also agreed to pay the company 22 percent of the increased revenue it gets in each of the following three years.

Ohio Governmental will receive the payments whether the city's increased share is the result of a return to the statutory formula or through a revised formula that officials from the county, cities and townships agree to ...

Avon Mayor Jim Smith was angered that the appeal had been filed. He said Lorain officials should have discussed the matter with other local leaders. Now, he said, money that could have been given to Lorain will go to the company it hired, Ohio Governmental.

"That's money out the window," he said. "We might as well have taken it and poured it down the sewer ...

Deputy County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said the current funding formula has been in use since 1984 and was hashed out by a committee made up of various community leaders across the county. The criteria for the breakdown included population, traffic flow, and property valuations, he said.

Snodgrass said some of those numbers have changed since 1984, but Lorain officials had never approached the county asking for a change in the way the funds get distributed ...''

Contact Dan Harkins at dharkins@chronicletelegram.com.

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 11-22-02, By PHIL HELSEL and JENNIFER HICKIN, Morning Journal Writers

``County is preparing for a battle

ELYRIA -- Lorain County officials yesterday pledged to fight an attempt by Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin to divert into his city's dwindling budget more than $1 million in state funding allocated to 22 municipalities around the county ...

In an executive session following their regular meeting yesterday, the commissioners decided to hire John Sunderland of the law firm Thompson Hine to represent county interests ...

The hiring of Ohio Government Financial Management Inc. to bring Lorain's case to the Ohio State Board of Tax Appeals has been especially criticized by officials around the county.

Yesterday, Moore pointed to OGFM's fee as a major problem because any extra money Lorain receives, whether gained in a courthouse or in a meeting room, is subject to a 20 percent fee.

A representative of OGFM refused to comment on whether the firm would be due 20 percent of a $2.4 million loan from the county that Foltin reportedly had been seeking, with one condition being that he wouldn't pursue the appeal ...

OGFM has never been unsuccessful with an appeal of this type, according to Barbara Varanese, president of OGFM ...

Avon would be hardest hit if the appeal succeeds, with Lorain claiming Avon is receiving almost $270,000 more than it deserves ...

Bob Hamilton, Avon finance director, ... wonders why Lorain didn't just sit down and talk with the county.

''Avon doesn't want to give up any money that is entitled to them.'' said Hamilton. ''If the distribution formula is found to be incorrect then Avon would give the money back.''

... On first look, Hamilton said, this would almost clean out the amount of money Avon had budgeted they would receive from the state funds.

''Something's not right, unless Lorain believes Avon shouldn't get anything,'' said Hamilton ...

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 11-22-02, By Kristin Yarbrough

``County gets lawyers to battle Lorain tax appeal

ELYRIA -- County commissioners voted Thursday to hire a legal firm to fight the city of Lorain's effort to change the way state taxes are distributed in the county ...

Avon Mayor Jim Smith, whose city stands to lose the most, said he wishes Lorain would have sat down with other communities to try to find a fair way to settle the issue. This way, 22 percent of the disputed money will go to the company hired by the city of Lorain, not to local communities.

"That money is supposed to benefit the citizenry," he said. "There's 22 percent that no citizen is going to see. It's throwing the money down the sewer, and I just don't understand it."

The company Lorain hired would take 20 percent of the city's dividends the first year and 22 percent for the following three years. ...''

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Morning Journal, 11-28-02. By the Pickering Family, Avon

``To the Editor: As Thanksgiving arrives and our growing season winds down, we (the Pickering family) have much to be thankful for. We are especially grateful to our friends, customers and the Avon School Board.

This past summer the Avon Schools threatened to take a portion of our family's farm by eminent domain, putting our whole farming operation at risk. When our friends and customers learned of this action, they made phone calls and sent letters to the school baord and superintendent.

Due to their efforts and some apparent confusion on the part of the superintendent, the school's attorney and the school board, the issue was quickly rectified.

During the school board meeting in August, School Board President, Angela Marsiglia, announced to our families that this current school board had never had any intention of taking our land by eminent domain. (It seems the School's attorney had made a mistake when he sent us letters threatning to seize our land by eminent domain.) She indicated that the school had many options for expansion besides taking our land and further stated that the school board would not attempt to aquire our land by eminent domain. This was, of course, a great relief to us and we thank her for straightening out our situation.

We intended to write this thankyou letter earlier, but realized that prolonging the discussion of this topic at that time might hinder the passage of this past November's [2002] school levy. We were relieved that it passed. We have always considered ourselves friends of the schools and have supported many of their groups and functions.

We were very dismayed by the whole eminent domain issue. Despite the bitterness that this issue might have created, we are still looking forward to working with the schools as we have in the past. We have already had discussions with our new neighbor, Heritage Elementary, about their students being able to use our farm as an outdoor classroom.

We feel the proximity of the school to our farm will provide a unique educational opportunity for Avon's children as they pass through Heritage Elementary School. In a fast-growing community like ours, having an actual working farm to view should be an invaluable tool for Heritage's science teachers.

After the great show of support from our friends, customers and the school board, we plan to continue to work hard to be a positive asset to the community. Once again, thanks to all of you who supported us this summer!

Wishing the best this holiday season and looking forward to seeing you and serving you this June and beyond.''

The Pickerings

John, Karel, Jay, Lill and the kids, Avon

[It is ironic that Pickering Hill Farm, part of Avon's heritage since at least 1874, has as its neighbor the new Heritage Elementary School. Taking just two acres from the ten acres available for farming -- growing high value crops such as strawberries -- could put Pickering Hill Farm out of business.]

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ARTICLE from Ecocity's Commuter Rail pages

``Poll says Ohioans want trains

More than eight of 10 Ohio adults want the state government to develop passenger rail service, as it does with highways. And, among the solutions for reducing highway and airport traffic, twice as many Ohioans favored developing high-speed rail services ...

Those are some of the results from a recent poll conducted by Ohio State University's Center for Survey Research for the Ohio Association of Railroad Passengers (OARP).

"The public is saying they want changes to our government's public policy toward transportation spending," said OARP president Bill Hutchison. "People are tired of congestion and they want to use advanced passenger trains as the way out."

Among the poll's other findings:

If federal funding is available for improving passenger rail services, two of every three (65 percent) Ohioans said state money should be used to attract these funds to Ohio, while fewer than one out of five (18.1 percent) neither favored nor opposed the state doing that. Only 13.7 percent of Ohioans opposed using state funds to attract federal dollars for Ohio passenger rail improvements ...

If federal funding is available for improving passenger rail services, two of every three (65 percent) Ohioans said state money should be used to attract these funds to Ohio, while fewer than one out of five (18.1 percent) neither favored nor opposed the state doing that. Only 13.7 percent of Ohioans opposed using state funds to attract federal dollars for Ohio passenger rail improvements ...

If a system of fast, modern passenger trains were available to Ohioans, more than four out of five polled (83.8 percent) said it was somewhat likely or very likely they would consider taking a train to a destination 75-300 miles from home.

Nearly three out of four Ohioans, or 74 percent, said they believed a modern, convenient and efficient passenger rail network would improve the quality of life in Ohio. Only three out of 20 people (16.5 percent) said it would not.

For more information about the poll, call 216-529-7677 or visit the Ohio Association of Railroad Passengers (OARP) .''

See the full poll article.

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 12-8-02, By Brad Dicken

``Construction to start on new Avon church

AVON -- Ground will be broken today on a new church in Avon, bringing a congregation of more than 300 people to the city once the 29,000-square-foot building opens next fall [2003].

Providence Church, which has been meeting at a Westlake middle school for the past seven years, will finally have a permanent home just east of Avon Commons on Detroit Road.

"We ve always had a vision, Lord willing, that we would build our own church someday," Senior Pastor Jim Bzdafka said ...

The church, part of the loosely affiliated Evangelical Free Church of America, will look like a church on the outside, but inside it will do more than offer Bzdafka and his fellow pastors a place to give weekly sermons.

"Just a Sunday liturgy is not what people are looking for, they want something that brings more to their lives," he said.

On its 14.75 acres, the church plans to build a baseball diamond and soccer field and the sanctuary will convert into a gym. It also will house classrooms, a nursery and a large foyer for church events.

The congregation began in 1992 with about a dozen families, but has expanded steadily ever since and Bzdafka said having a building of its own, will help the church expand ...

Services will continue to be at Parkside Middle School on Hilliard Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. until the new building opens.''

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 3-27-03, By Brad Dicken

``Avon plans to construct park near French Creek

AVON -- The city is adding a new park to its system, one it hopes will help clean up the water and control mosquito populations along French Creek.

park
MAP PROVIDED by the Chronicle-Telegram. Bob-O-Link is at the top and Mills Rd. is at the bottom.

"We're going to rebuild French Creek in the fashion that it used to be," Mayor Jim Smith said.

The 29-acre park will be sandwiched between Bob-O-Link Golf Course to the north and homes facing Mills Road to the south, said Avon's consulting engineer, Mike Bramhall.

"It's cutting edge," he said. "A lot of communities want something like this."

The area is now an open field near French Creek. The creek will be rerouted, Smith said, similar to the way it was in the past.

"French Creek used to wind through the area, and they channelized it back around the turn of the century," Smith said. "The changes were made to accommodate farming operations," he said.

The park will be similar to Sandy Ridge Metropark off Otten Road in North Ridgeville, Bramhall said, although it will not be used as wetlands mitigation as that park is. ... Bramhall said the new park, which goes by the name French Creek Restoration Project, might be expanded in the future as part of wetlands mitigation.

Bramhall said the park will not only help filter the water that flows from North Ridgeville, but if it can be made six feet or deeper, it will allow fish and other animals that eat mosquito larva to thrive.

"The mosquito population will go down as a result," he said.

The project was initially envisioned as a way to help control flooding, but the city decided it could do more than simply build a large pond.

Work is set to begin in August on the first phase, which will be about 13 acres, mostly encompassing the stream area. A second phase will include a walking trail and other recreational areas.

The total cost is about $507,000, Bramhall said, but about half of that cost will be covered by a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.''

Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chronicletelegram.com.

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Primary Election Results, 5-6-03

Avon

Issue #17: Tax renewal, 2 mills, five years, streets.

Yes 1,940 No 822

Issue #18: Tax increase (0.15 mills) and replacement (0.35 mills), 0.5 mills, five years, parks and recreation.

Yes 1,512 No 1,204

Avon Schools

Issue 5: Tax renewal, 2.5 mills, $14.9 million bond issue, 25 years, construction and renovation.

Yes 1,787 No 980

Lorain County

Issue 16: Tax renewal, 1.68 mills, five years, mentally retarded and developmentally disabled services.

Yes 27,869 No 17,066

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 6-1-03, By Rena A. Koontz, Plain Dealer Reporter

[Finding landmarks, attracting tourists]

``MEDINA -- Steve McQuillin will be around town over the next few weeks, snapping pictures of the old, the preserved and the authentic.

His goal is to identify buildings in Medina that have some claim to historic fame - perhaps a president or a governor slept there, or the architecture is preserved from the period in which it was built. When he finds these hidden treasures, McQuillin will record their attributes in hopes of getting them listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

That's part of Medina's draw, said city grants administrator Barbara Dzur.

"Medina is a tourist attraction," Dzur said. "The more bragging rights we have, the more people who will come."

The Medina Chamber of Commerce fields about five tourism calls a day with questions ranging from "What's going on in the Square this weekend?" to "What does the A.I. Root Candle company sell?" said Karen Whitaker of the chamber ...

City officials hope McQuillin's efforts will add to the list of tourist attractions. His Westlake company [Steven McQuillin & Associates] specializes in building preservation and is performing the $17,000 survey thanks to a Certified Local Government Grant to the city. McQuillin will focus on nine square blocks around the square.

"It's a lot of walking," he said. "I have a list of properties and basically, I'm just collecting the data. Medina has always been recognized as having historic value. I'll be focusing on the neighborhoods around the square."

McQuillin has done work for Olmsted Falls, Oberlin, Elyria and North Olmsted. He expects to have an initial report ready for Medina officials this month.

Medina already has six homes, including the H.G. Blake house on Washington Street and the A.I. Root homestead, listed on the register, as well as the old Medina County Courthouse, Medina Masonic Temple and Medina Theater, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Public Square district. Dzur estimates there is the potential for 1,000 buildings in the city to qualify.

The buildings must have either historic significance or have maintained their original architectural integrity, Dzur said. Once identified, it will be up to the property owner to seek placement on the list. Commercial and residential properties are eligible ...'' [Placement on the National Register qualifies a property for a 20% federal tax credit and other benefits.]

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: rkoontz@plaind.com

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COLUMN from The Press, 7-2-03, By Julie Short

``Wow, never has one of my columns attracted so much attention and talk ...

My first attempt at this was two weeks ago entitled "Construction in Avon is out of control." Funny how people only give you negative feedback. Those who know me understand that I'm not against growth, provided it is well thought out. For those who don't know me, I guess my column caught you a bit off guard ...

First of all, I never wrote construction in Avon should stop, as was publicly mentioned (for no reason) at a recent city council meeting. Please don't misquote me. I wrote construction should slow down. ... Build a million homes. I could care less. Just do it over a longer period of time. Also, you better work with the schools on the student population and you better get some decent roads throughout the city.

Funny how the "speed of government" only slows down when there is talk of building/paving roads, updating intersections or adding an interchange, yet housing permits and subdividers agreements are approved faster than LeBron James can say "Nike." ...

There are ... a number of existing homes up for sale. Why are so many people leaving Avon? I didn't notice all the "for sale" signs until my parents, who were up for a visit from Florida, pointed them out. They noticed all the new housing starts, but also noticed the number of existing homes that are on the market.

Maybe I should have offered suggestions on how to slow down growth, but that is what we have elected officials for. I'm just an Avon resident who happens to be a reporter for this newspaper entitled to make observations. I also know for a fact that I am not the only Avon resident to mention this topic ...

My inquisitive father also told me during his visit that a few cities in Florida are requiring builders to give $1,000 to the schools for every new home they build in that city. It's definitely slowed down the construction of larger housing developments ...''

[If there seem to be more cars on the roads now (2003) with 14,000 residents, what will things be like when the flood of new homes has 45,000 to 60,000 people living in Avon?

Although it may not be obvious to everyone, more lanes of pavement will have to be put down in Avon to move the increasing population around our town. Questions to be answered are: Where will these new lanes of pavement be laid? How much will they cost? and Who will pay for them?

As new housing developemnts pour more cars onto Avon's original country road system, as a last resort, in desperation, the residents might vote to tax themselves to add lanes to these roads. This approach, adopted under the most unfavorable circumstances, is the most expensive approach.

For example, expanding Detroit Rd. to five lanes of pavement from Colorado to the Westlake line, as recommended by the URS traffic engineer, would require that sidewalks, sanitary sewer lines, gas lines, and water lines be torn up. In addition, the telephone poles would have to be moved.

As an alternative, Middleton, from Jaycox Rd. (Avenbury) east to as close as possible to the Westlake line, could be designated a vehicle access street with no individual private driveways. It would run back of the developments.

No sidewalks, water lines, gas lines, or sanitary sewer lines would be required since only cars and trucks would be using such a street. Electricity could be provided from intersecting public streets coming out of the developments.

These lanes of pavement would be much less expensive than lanes of pavement added to Avon's original country roads; and Detroit Rd. would be protected from desperation measures.

The most interesting question is Who pays for these new lanes of pavement? If they are added to existing roads, the residents must pay for them; and, as is now the case, new housing development projects would pay nothing to alleviate the traffic problems they create throughout Avon.

If these lanes of pavement are put down on new streets (vehicle access streets) the Ohio Supreme Court decision in the Beaver Creek case allows Avon to require new housing developments to pay their fair share.

We are running out of time to create a vehicle access street grid. Blocking developments are popping up in various places. Council and Planning Commission must have the vision to act before it is too late.]

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