Reflections of an outgoing Marietta Councilman

Happy New Year!

It has been an honor and a pleasure serving as Marietta City Council’s 1st Ward Representative the past six years. Much was accomplished and much work remains to continue Marietta’s rich and vibrant history into the future.

Some of the work is basic common sense activities at little expense and some is more complicated. With always finite financial resources, city and community leaders must continually work more creatively, efficiently and cooperatively. No one government entity or community organization can do it alone. Nor should they try or be expected to plan or act alone.

Volunteers offer thousands upon thousands of hours every year in our unique and historic First Settlement of the Northwest Territory. Volunteers supplement the government and social service agencies. They plan, evaluate, develop and carry out a vast array of services and opportunities in our community.

From free community meals, mentoring, cemetery repair and maintenance, tree planting, litter and hazard removal along River Trail to Marietta Main Street’s annual flower bed mulching and general sprucing up, dozens upon dozens step up each and every week.

The 200 city employees play critical roles in providing basic city services critical to the daily quality of life for everyone.

City officials are planning and developing a drinking water system replacing the city’s 1950s and 1970s operations that are showing the wear and tear of age. The multi-year and multi-million dollar effort to completely rebuild the drinking water system requires not only a focus of city employees, but responsible input from knowledgeable and caring community members. The system is not rocket science, but it is at least as important. It will not happen over night. It will take years. Careful consideration and thoughtful dialogues will help avoid both a Flint-like disaster and breaking the bank for critical services.

City administration and council recently received the bi-annual analysis of the city’s 87 miles of city streets and alleys. Crack sealing of asphalt pavements and joint repairs to concrete streets are critical basic-and common sense-maintenance that can save hundreds of thousands of dollars vs. rebuilding and paving failed roadways. It also saves a fortune in front end alignments and damaged tires. Basic brick street repairs, such as those done on Putnam between Fourth and Fifth streets last fall, are critical to the survival of our much touted 5.85 miles of historic streets. Brick sidewalks, largely maintained by volunteers, would benefit from a common sense, long term repair plan.

Bricks are low maintainable, not no maintenance.

Marietta City Police should be given every bit of city and citizen support for reconnecting with the community by establishing routine bicycle patrols throughout the city. Other cities are improving the quality of life and health by becoming more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Some even have first responders besides police on bicycles. Employees love the public interaction and it is better for their health and fitness rather than spending all patrol hours in isolating SUVs.

Marietta’s 65 acres of historic cemeteries and 65 acres of parkland likely will continue suffering because the city doesn’t have and never will have a bottomless pit of money to spend on them. But, surprise, few communities do have unlimited funds.

Marietta does, however, have dozens if not hundreds of residents and college students regularly willing and able to step up and make a difference when permitted by the powers that be.

Some of those volunteers now are working with the city identifying vacant buildings and houses for development of a comprehensive picture of the city’s blighted neighborhoods. Volunteers has identified more than 50 vacant structures to add to the city’s list of 37.

Working together with common, common sense, goals, anything is possible, with or without bucket full of money. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Roger G. Kalter served the past six years as Marietta City Council 1st Ward Representative.