Improvements are coming to Defiance’s latest park.

City council approved two emergency ordinances during its meeting Tuesday night concerning East Side Park between Karnes and Ottawa avenues. The park was formerly known as Compo Park before the land was purchased by the city from the Compo family.

Council also passed an ordinance allowing Maumee Valley Planning Organization to begin an application and appraisal process for the acquisition of several buildings in the flood plain, including three located downtown (see related story on page A1).

The first park-related ordinance awards a contract to the company GameTime for the purchase and installation of playground equipment at East Side Park, while the second allows the same for a shelterhouse from DWA Recreation, a sister company to Game Time, according to Finance Director John Lehner.

The playground equipment — to be installed next spring — will cost $178,271.87, with $170,000 covered by a community development block grant while the shelterhouse cost is $77,490, with a $32,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources offsetting the amount.

Lehner told council that an effort is underway to secure private money for the remaining amount for the shelterhouse, which will measure 30 feet by 30 feet.

Each ordinance contains an emergency clause, meaning the legislation will become law upon the mayor’s signature rather than after the regular 30-day waiting period.

“This is exciting,” said At-large Councilman Jill Krutsch in reference to the park’s improvement. “I love seeing the east park getting this.”

Ward 2 Councilman John Hancock echoed the thought, saying “it’s great to see this park develop.”

In explaining the emergency measures, Lehner noted that if council approves the playground equipment purchase before Oct. 31, the city will receive a $30,000 discount, which is reflected in the above price. As for the shelterhouse, he said the grant money must be used June 30, 2020, and there is some lead-time in ordering the structure.

In another matter, council approved a resolution expressing opposition to Ohio House Bill 163 (HB 163).

According to Lehner, HB 163 “would effectively prohibit the ability of municipal water and sewer systems to charge higher rates for services provided outside of the city limits.”

In Defiance’s case, this would concern customers in Brunersburg, Ayersville and Lake Christi Meadows who purchase water from the city. The city eliminated a higher rate for these customers several years, although a debt service charge remains.

“Upon the advice of the consultant that we used to establish our current rate structure several years ago, who foresaw lawsuits of this type coming across the country, we actually eliminated the surcharge on outside customers for water and sewer for the commodity portion for the cost of the water and the cost of the sewer service,” Lehner told council “... What we do still have is a surcharge, or a premium, for those outside customers on the readiness-to-serve component of the bill, which is primarily driven by our capital and debt costs associated with running the two utilities.”

If passed, the legislation “would enable our outside users ... to challenge the rates that we impose on them ... . And the potential penalties to the cities who don’t offer the same rates inside and out in that instance would be a loss of their local government funding, loss of the ability to use state financing mechanisms for water and sewer projects which we use extensively.”

Lehner doesn’t believe the bill will pass, but said “it’s a bill that I thought six months ago would have absolutely no traction at all. They’re still talking about it. I personally don’t believe that it will pass, but it hasn’t gone away yet.”

In other business Tuesday:

• council approved an emergency ordinance allowing a contract with Underground Utilities Inc., for extension of a sanitary sewer on West High Street and Latchaw Drive to promote economic development in that area. The cost is $887,973.50.

• council passed an emergency ordinance authorizing a contract with Jones & Henry to oversee a project at the wastewater treatment plant to replace a chlorination disinfection system with a safer ultraviolet disinfection system. Jones & Henry’s cost will be $73,000. Council recently approved legislation allowing a contract for the project.

• resident Gail Grimes, 21796 Parkview Drive, noted the increased dangers and accidents on East Second Street that have increased since the Clinton Street bridge closed for replacement. She questioned the 40-mile-per-hour speed limit there, noting that this is the only one in the city. Administrator Jeff Leonard promised to take a look at the situation.

• Ward I Councilman Pete Lundberg recapped council’s buildings and lands committee meeting held earlier Tuesday evening. The topic was a future council ordinance concerning guidelines for trees in the public right-of-way. Residents can plant whichever species they chose on their property, he noted, but the legislation would provide a list of recommended trees.

• Lundberg and Mayor Mike McCann thanked those who made Saturday’s Defiance Rib Fest possible.

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