Two forms of unity were demonstrated at last Monday evening's Newcomerstown Village Council meeting.
The first -- and most impressive -- came in the show of unity from the community where more than 85 village residents came to the meeting to hear what the future holds for Cy Young Park and Cy Young Pool.
The second show of unity came from Newcomerstown Village Council where they unanimously agreed that the way in which the Newcomerstown Recreation Board was disbanded was wrong. Council was also unified in a motion -- and approved -- that they will not be opening the pool until all the safety concerns/hazards are corrected.
"Somewhere over the years, we've lost some maintenance issues that need to be addressed," councilmember Dave Hickman said. "Nothing will be open until the safety issues are addressed."
The four members of council, who were present at the meeting, included Hickman, Burris Gardner, Sue Simmons and Heather Stein-Wells. Councilmen Jim Carr and Rev. Jim Reed were absent due to medical reasons.
"It's never been anybody's intent to close the pool," councilman Hickman said.
However, the safety concerns which include the sealing around the diving board, adding a new chemical feed system for a commercial pool (not a residential), as well as checking structural issues on the pump room and adding a fire door. These items would total approximately $12,000.
The issue of not being handicapped accessible was dropped after the efforts of resident Pat Cadle secured a $7,000 grant to install a lift chair at the pool. Cadle said after checking with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Department Labor, they would allow the one chair lift and use the structural set of stairs as another exit and entrance into the pool.
Cadle spoke to council about the importance of keeping the park and pool open.
"It (park and pool) have a purpose for our county," Cadle said.
He said the Newcomerstown community is being marketed by Tuscarawas County officials as a way to get the oil and gas industry into the area. He said the way in which these problems are resolved tonight (in terms of closing the pool and disbanding the park board), are being watched by those that could be looking at coming to the community to live, work and raise a family.
Cadle prompted council to re-instate the five-member volunteer Newcomerstown Recreation Board that night.
It was not.
Former Recreation Board President Greg Bowman questioned council as to how they project to raise the $23,000 estimated income from the pool with it being closed this year.
Council said the budget was set prior to disbanding the park board and closing the pool.
Bowman said even making that budget should have been accomplished by discussing it with the park board before approving it at council. He said he has never had a member of council come to one of the board's meeting. He said there is a serious lack of communication in this village. Bowman read the ordinance which created the Newcomerstown Recreation Board and it said the board president had to only meet with council one time a year. Bowman said he was present at the first meeting of the month during the months the pool and park were open and things were happening.
Bowman questioned council and the ways in which volunteers and employees are treated in the village.
He read off a list of employees who have left, quit or resigned over the past three years. He said council might have more of a human resources problem and wishes that they would do better in the future.
Along those same lines, Rev. Ken Hacker questioned each member of council to see if they agreed at the ways in which the Recreation Board was disbanded was right. Each member, agreed that it was wrong. Rev. Hacker asked Village Solicitor Bob Stephenson if two ordinances were drawn up regarding the board's disbanding. Stephenson agreed and said one was on an emergency basis (and take effect immediately) and the other was an ordinance that was to be given three readings. Nonetheless, council approved and passed the emergency order for the reasons of re-gaining financial stability in the park fund.
Meanwhile, Newcomerstown Board of Public Affairs President Gregg Shivers reminded council that they cannot disband the BPA because they are elected officials just like themselves. He said if council feels that it is necessary because a possible Village Administrator will be brought in to do the jobs of the board and several water department employees, then things will be done the legal way.
Shivers cited the fact that the water and sewer boards are not in fiscal emergency like other village departments. He said they can run their areas and balance their own budget.
"The board is just trying to help out the village of Newcomerstown," Shivers said.
Council said a job description of a potential Village Administrator has not been determined yet and that the job has not even been advertised.
In other business, council:
• Approved to pay Jonathan Stanfield $15 per hour for tech support with monies to come from the department where support is needed.
• Approved Mike Bryant as Street Commissioner to fill the vacancy left by the late Bob Martin.
• Increased Street Department employee Michael Ferguson's hours to be up to 40 hours per week with no health insurance offered.
• Announced that the potholes on village streets will be fixed soon in the village. Repair parts are being installed on the truck that will repair the potholes.
• Announced that they would like to repave Main Street as well as a few adjacent streets this summer with Street Levy funds.
• Approved hiring three part-time police officers after Brett Belknap, full-time officer, announced his resignation as of May 8. Chief Gary Holland also asked if he could apply for a grant that would supply 75 percent of a police officer's salary for the next three years.
Council entered into an hour long executive session to discuss litigation, pending litigation and personnel.
Council's next meeting will be Monday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at the David Barber Civic Center, Newcomerstown.
All meetings are open to the public.