Ton Waniewski's July 2009 Newsletter

BP Pipe
The BP refinery in Oregon is going to be installing new pipeline in District 5. I don't have all the details just yet, but if you live in the neighborhood of Bellevue and points south BP will be boring the pipeline in the vicinity of the railroad tracks between Monroe and Berdan.

With Columbia Gas replacing pipe, and the Douglas Rd./475 construction (see story below), there's a lot of heavy construction going on this summer. Thank you for your patience as these improvements are completed.

Douglas Road Overpass On Schedule
Despite a two-day weather delay since the start of the project, the Douglas Rd. overpass construction is on schedule. The current plans are to have the overpass completed by November. ODOT Spokesperson Theresa Pollick told me, "ODOT added additional work to the bridge by having the contractor install large H-Beams into the ground in front of the new abutments as part of a future retaining wall, to be used when the next phase of the 475 construction begins next year."

Thanks for everyone's patience. I live on Rushland, a through street that runs parallel to Douglas. Overall, I'd say drivers have been very good, and I've seen quite a few Toledo Police patrol cars come down the street.

FEMA Update
The first FEMA flood meeting was held in District 5. We had an overflow crowd at the Sanger library. If you do NOT have a mortgage, how much insurance you get is your business. If you have a federally-backed mortgage (Fannie Mae), you are required to get flood insurance. You can learn more about FEMA's insurance criteria here.

Thanks to Chris Zervos from the city and his crew for answering residents' questions. I was disappointed that no one from FEMA is attending the meetings. Residents were told FEMA established the new flood plain maps if a home stands a one percent chance of getting flooded. Until the new maps are made official next spring, properties designated in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) may be eligible for lower cost or grandfathered insurance rates. The city is participating in the Community Rating System to reduce flood insurance rates. Please contact your insurance agent for details.

Additionally, the FEMA web site is full of information. But I found a particular page located here to get you straight to the information you need including an area where you can submit a Letter of Map Change if you feel you should not be in a floodplain.

Meantime, I am working with councilmen George Sarantou and Lindsay Webb to address the larger picture of flooding in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan with the congressional representatives in these areas.

Secor Cinemas Deal Falls Through
If you haven't heard by now, the deal to purchase the old Showcase Cinemas on Secor Road did not materialize. Owners are steadfast on their asking price of $7 million for the 13-acre parcel.

SUP Review
In light of the recent purchase of the synagogue on Kenwood Blvd. and the subsequent ire raised among some neighbors, I submitted a resolution for the Plan Commission to take another look at the requirements of Special Use Permits (SUPs). That resolution was approved 10 to 1 on July 7th. I'm asking the commission to determine whether criteria for schools should be further defined by the kind of school (high school vs. elementary, for example) thus initiating the need for further hearings. I support school choice, but this could give council more analytical tools when granting SUPs.

I have met with Glass City Academy, now that the purchase of the synagogue has gone through, to press upon the safety concern felt by some residents. I look forward to working with neighbors and GCA to optimize the mission of the school with the concerns of the neighbors.

Diabetes Workshop July 14th
The Pharmacy Counter is holding a diabetes workshop July 14th at the Central Avenue location -- 2655 W. Central. Jackie Birle will conduct the educational session. Pick the time that works best for you: 10 a.m., 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Bookworm Wednesdays
Westfield Franklin Park Mall is hosting Bookworm Wednesdays again this summer. It's a great way to keep your kids active reading while out of school, and the mall provides great incentives for kids who reach their reading goals. Stop by Westfield Franklin Park Mall for further information.

Lost Opportunities
I like to comment on policy occasionally in my newsletter. I was discouraged by two votes on council. The first was the approval of the police patrolman's contract. I have nothing but the highest respect for our public safety forces. But if you look closely at the contract, taxpayers won only once; new officers hired will have to pay their ten percent of the pension pickup. To date, the city picks up anywhere from 24 to 29 percent. Does your employer pay 24 percent of your pension? The officers will pay some of their health coverage. If you're employed, when was the last time you did NOT pay for your own health coverage? So I don't see that as a "win", I see it as the city finally getting into reality with the rest of the private sector. More importantly, the contract did nothing to bring laid off officers back to work. If other city unions adopt a similar contract, we'll save about $5 million. That means another $5 to $7 million has to come from "revenue enhancements." I will not support ANY revenue enhancements. Taxpayers (the employers) were not well represented with this contract.

The second lost opportunity was the ordinance that appropriates $12 million for automated refuse trucks. I'm glad we're going to automation. Most agree with 89 percent of the cities in the country to go to automation, but I felt it was an opportunity to try privatization. An amendment that opened the door to what some refer to as "managed competition" was not approved. The city stood to save even more money with managed competition.

Can I Help You
If I can be of assistance with a concern or question you have about city services, please give me a call or drop me an email (email works best). My office number is 419-245-1050. My email address is tom.waniewski@toledo.oh.gov.

If you would like to get a block watch going or you just want to have coffee with some of your neighbors, please give me a call. As always, I am at your service.

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