Put-in-Bay Property Owners Meeting

President Jim Duffy called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. June 15th, at the PIB Senior Center. After the State of the Island and the replay for the Chamber, you might think there was no more to be said. Wrong! Peter Huston, Police Chief Steve Riddle, and Put-in-Bay Village Councilman Jeff Koehler brought new plans and fascinating insights into the Police Department and the Village Council. Peter wants to expand the notion of a Splash Down Day on July 20th to create a new event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous splashdown of the Apollo 11 Astronauts returning from the moon.

This coincides with Put-in-Bay Jeep Weekend and would be a perfect time to celebrate the contributions of Ohioans to the nation. He needs help in developing the idea and bringing it down to the Earth on Put-in-Bay. He also reported that the Put-in-Bay Safe Island Task Force group suggested reusing those old “Ask Me” t-shirts (from 2013) which you have in the very back of your closets. “Ask Me” volunteers would work an a.m. or p.m. shift at such places as the Jet Dock, DeRivera Park and Tipper’s parking lot on busy weekends. They might even ride the ferries to answer visitors’ questions.

Jim then introduced Chief Riddle who said that the evolving Traffic Plan is on the web. He also asked that people watching cart drivers avoid downtown on busy weekends so as not to contribute to traffic jams. Saying “We have come a long way since last year” the Chief explained that tour busses must notify the Miller Boat Line before arriving and that multiple busses would be staggered – no more than one busload to a ferry. This allows him to schedule his officers more efficiently when the need is greatest.

On Put-in-Bay Mardi Gras weekend, May 10th and 11th, officers wrote 79 tickets for fines of $65 to $265. 64 of the tickets were paid immediately and the remaining 15 had warrant locks placed on their driver’s licenses. They cannot be renewed until the fine is paid. The open container laws allow for some discretion so officers may ticket or ask the offender to empty the container and receive a warning. Chief Frank’s force wrote 400 tickets. The next year Chief Riddles force wrote 800. The year after that they wrote only 400. The Chief thinks people do learn! This year he intends to teach them about golf cart safety. Three new police golf carts will patrol Langram Road, in particular, looking for unsafe drivers and/or driving and seat belt violations.

The Ottawa County sheriff has now agreed to police the township while the Village polices itself. This allows the Sheriff to send 30 deputies on heavy weekends. Other state agencies are contributing an additional 40 agents, some in plain clothes. The combined force of village (30), township (30) and state(40) will be a force to be reckoned with. In an unusual turn of events, last summer, agents from the state found con men cheating tourists with illegal and fixed gambling devices. Equal justice for all. Jim Duffy wanted to know if a portable jail was required. The Chief did not think so, although he had filled the jail once this season. He noted that new financial arrangements for the ODNR boat made it more available for police use. He has used it a number of times to take people off the island.

The Property Owners long-range perspective was provided by Jeff Koehler, who introduced himself as a person whose family’s roots on the island go back to the ’30s and the longest-serving Village Councilperson. He wanted to answer questions, which he did – not from the point of view of the Gazette, but of that of a longtime Council member and observer. The first question raised the One-Island/ One Government issue. He thought that, at the moment, this was a long shot because neither the Council or the Township are making it a top priority. There are still many issues that need to be solved, and without answers, there is no progress. Duffy said that the appointed 10-member commission (five people from each jurisdiction) would answer such questions before the issue was placed on the ballot. It appeared to Jeff that the establishment of the commission had little support from the Township Trustees and that the Council which voted for it hasn’t really
taken it off the backburner either.

TheProperty Owners next question asked about the position of City Manager. Jeff praised the efforts of Council’s administration but noted that they were being asked to answer engineering questions exceeding their training. To change to a city-manager form of government, either the village Council would need to vote in favor, or a citizen‘s petition signed by 10% of the registered voters would put the issue on the ballot. In either case, Village voters would decide. The big issue was water/sewer. Jeff expressed interest in the connection-to-mainland solution and referred to Joe Cerny’s recent study of long-term costs. The last Poggemeier report recommends this solution in the back of a long report.

Water costs are going to go up. At one time, the Waterworks required an operator with a level II certificate; then EPA changed it to level
III. Such mandates increase the fixed costs dramatically for a plant like ours that is a tenth of the size of its mainland cousins. In spite of the
rainwater, costs are going up. And up. The sewer situation is much better since (1) the present system has excess capacity and (2)
the Council has approved a low-pressure system policy which might address the needs of Toledo Avenue, Shore Villas and Victory Avenue without lift stations. Shore Villans might be interested in the letter, Jeff has from the EPA mandating sewerage by 1995. President Duffy wanted the Put-in-Bay Property Owners to concentrate on one of these many issues. After much discussion, the membership voted to focus on the water issues. The meeting was adjourned; the discussion  will be continued