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City hears pool, center pleas

December 19, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - City Council on Tuesday approved several year-end ordinances and heard several pleas to keep the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center open after March 1.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs cast a no vote on legislation making temporary appropriations for 2013, "because we are looking at closing the Belleview Pool in 2013 as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center."

"My hope is our residents don't get completely uprooted by these decisions. I am calling for the entire city to look for ways to keep the pool and recreation center open. I don't believe they will be open next year with city funds but we need to look at who we can partner with to open the pool and keep the MLK Center open. We need to look at all opportunities to keep those facilities open," stated Suggs.

During the meeting, council members also heard from Katie Gesto, Royal Mayo, Nathaniel Richmond, Simon Feaster and Delores Wiggins regarding the pool and recreation center.

Mayo also said he wants a list of salaries and benefits for all city employees.

"The council should do everything it can to bring back the four part-time recreation aides to the MLK Center," said Mayo.

Parks and recreation board President Sandi Rue said the city, "has been looking under every rock they could find for money to keep the pool and recreation center open in 2013."

"We need volunteers to help us. When you look at the whole scheme of things you begin to understand. But I truly believe we will open the pool in 2013 and keep the recreation center open. We have to come together as a city. And I commend (City Manager) Cathy (Davison) for her hard work," said Rue.

Mark Nelson questioned plans to sell the Steubenville Marina.

"The sale of the marina is a rash move. I know you have a list of inherited problems. But you need to consider how the city sells itself to outside interests. Closing the pool and recreation center ... what does that say to people looking at our community? I urge you to look at the new comprehensive plan that has not yet been made public before making any rash decisions," said Nelson.

And council heard from Jeffrey Hawkins, who cited garbage left on his street before the scheduled sanitation collection as well as speeding on Ridge Avenue and school zones in the city.

"That's why we need traffic cameras in the city. That would help stop speeders in our school zones," responded 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich.

During the lengthy meeting, council approved a revised ordinance offering $10,000 for eligible city employees who resign or retire by Dec. 29.

Also approved was legislation eliminating a $300-per-month car allowance for department heads and other city employees who use their own vehicles for city business.

Davison said the employees will now be paid 45.5 cents a mile for city-related travel.

An emergency ordinance to declare buildings located at 1409 State St., 711 N. Seventh St., 235 N. Eighth St., 312 Mears Ave. and 523 Maxwell Ave. to be unsafe structures and ordering their demolition was approved by a unanimous vote.

"These are all fire damaged structures that need to come down. The demolitions will be paid for with Community Development Block Grant funds," noted 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.

Council also authorized the advertisement for a request for qualifications for professional services under the Ohio Community Housing Improvement Program.

The end-of-the-year legislation passed Tuesday night included a revenue tax budget for 2012 and a temporary revenue tax budget for 2013.

"The temporary tax budget gives us time to work with our city unions, look at our health care program and budget cuts for 2013," explained Davison.

A measure to make final appropriations for expenditures this year was approved without comment.

And an ordinance authorizing the finance director to repay $147,183 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal grant fund to the street fund.

The city had used city funds for an LED traffic signal replacement program.

The next council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2.

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