City deserves a plan that’s carried out

Marietta residents and those who live in our lovely, historic city are being asked to give the administration more tax money.

Perhaps it would be wise to examine some of the ways the city could raise needed income or save money rather than asking those on minimum wage salaries, fixed incomes and with other financial challenges to pony up.

For years, Marietta has charged Marietta Memorial Hospital $25 per parking space at Indian Acres raising about $9,000 per year.

Nearby, as many as 16 vehicles owned by a tree service under contract to American Electric Power park free costing the city as much as $4,800 in free parking. There has never been any written documentation that the city gets “free” services in exchange for what now amounts to more than $13,000 in “free” parking.

Cities across Ohio have fire fighting plans for houses and buildings that sit vacant to protect nearby properties from fires.

Marietta has more than 80 vacant and abandoned houses and buildings. In Cambridge, Athens, Zanesville, Sandusky and elsewhere, property owners are paying $200 in fees to cover city expenses for the fire and blight fighting programs otherwise draining city budgets.

Fees from vacant buildings ($200 times 80 buildings = $16,000) would help offset the expenses now paid for the city’s property maintenance code enforcement office.

The fees encourage property owners to sell, improve or demolish derelict structures– such as the burned out house at 741 1/2 Greene St. that has been empty for years, burned last year and burglarized this year. All that costs tax payers dollars and the blight continues month after month, year after year. That house finally was demolished. Hurray!

The city spent nearly $25,000 to demolish two burned out houses and the health time bomb of the animal infested trailer at Jackson Hill Park. Only 80 to go. Vacant building register works elsewhere. The mayor brought the plan from Parkersburg more than two years ago. What are we waiting for?

The city collected more than $10,000 from a mowing company that damaged dozens of city trees several years ago, but no one has figured out who will pay for the $1,350 for the five 2-year-old trees recently destroyed in East Muskingum Park by unsupervised mowing and weed eating, which girdled the trees leading to their death. Another tree was girdled and killed within the past month in Knox Park (across from Smitty’s Pizza).

The city has had the money to illegally use asphalt to repair the brick (prohibited by 1989 brick street protection legislation) intersection at Fifth and Butler streets, but no money to properly and legally repair the heavily used intersection in the center of the Marietta College campus. Motorists swerve left of center to maneuver the undulating surface to avoid costly alignments and tire repair. (It is a great place to collect hubcaps).

The intersection has been repaired improperly three times with asphalt and most recently, legally, but still completely unacceptably. Mayor Joe Matthews was quoted a year or two ago that perhaps the city would pursue a grant to properly repair the historic intersection. How is the grant coming?

The city purchased a $57,000 piece of pothole repairing equipment that combines hot tar and gravel and could be used year-round on potholes in asphalt paved streets, but that piece of equipment rarely sees a city street. Instead, cold patch and hot asphalt and put in by hand one day and is often gone within days or weeks.

The city’s line item under streets has funds for concrete street joint repair that goes unused year after year despite there being more than 20 concrete joint cracks on along Acme Street. One of the breaks is three feet long and very dangerous to motorcyclists and bicyclists.

Minor concrete joint crack repairs now could save $10,000 to $100,000 in replacement later on streets such as Euclid, Spring, Curtis and other steep, deteriorating concrete streets.

Check out the concrete joint breaks on Euclid, Spring, Flintwood or elsewhere. Why does the $30,000 plus sit unused when there is damage to be repaired and money to do the work?

New sidewalk on Acme Street over a storm drain was destroyed during February’s flood preparations when a private firm drove heavy equipment over it crushing the concrete. The ruined sidewalk has not been repaired.

Pedestrians — many walking to buy groceries — are at risk every time they have to walk over the crushed sidewalk. There was a cone for a month or two. But now it’s gone.

The overall point here is, it isn’t just about money. It is about having a plan (which the city unfortunately does not) and having a can-do attitude.

The city could have a windfall of $10 million and it likely would make little difference unless there is an attitude to use it according to a community-based, long-term strategic plan.

Otherwise $10 million or whatever is placed on the ballot for taxpayers to fork over is just fighting brush fires one crisis after another.

Marietta deserves much better. It deserves a plan and people willing to carry it out for everyone’s benefit.

***

Roger G. Kalter is former 1st Ward Council Representative and a 45-year-community volunteer and organizer.

COMMENTS