Updated: Aug 11
An invisible enemy has brought life as we once knew it to its knees. In the beginning, children were overjoyed to receive an early summer vacation, and adults surely didn’t mind a few extra days off work while things got back to normal. Nearly five months later, there is still no end in sight. During the early stages of the hysteria, businesses considered non-essential were ordered to close across the country, playgrounds were taped off, and birthdays, holidays, and graduations were canceled. The world was officially closed.
As things stand currently, it’s important to remember, when being critical of the representatives making decisions during the fog of war, that they are undoubtedly making those decisions in uncharted territory. It’s also apparent that by the nature of the beast-pandemic, things have slowed down. For instance, calling a committee meeting about playgrounds wouldn’t be very practical when there are no playgrounds on which to play. While taking these factors into account, what has Cheviot City Council been up to? Well, not much.
Taking A Closer Look
From April through June of this year, City Council has met six times for a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes. During this time, no committee meetings have been scheduled, and no reports have been submitted. For a comparison, City Council met for nearly double the amount of this time in April of 2019 alone.
You may be thinking, ‘Well, the city has been shut down, so there just isn’t as much to do as far as legislation.’ This is partly true, but several issues have been brought up, discussed briefly, and then forgotten about. Remember as a child when you would clean your room by throwing everything under your bed? Council seems inclined to not only stay six feet apart from people but also the issues facing the city. So, what issues need attention? Well, let’s take a peek under the bed, shall we?
The Franks Property
On January 28, 2020, a meeting for Public Works took place with the intent of drafting a letter to Mr. Bomer, the owner of the Frank’s property. The meeting was attended by six of eight council members. The members who were present decided that Council should wait on requesting action with the property. The report from the meeting states, “Since the building was recently torn down (Sept 2019), Council should hold off requesting action with said property for three months, and if no action is taken then, seek out a plan for this important property in the heart of the city.” The rotting carcass of the Frank’s building sat in the heart of Cheviot for 15 years. Council elected to wait 7 months after its demolition before attempting to seek out a plan. It has now been nearly 10 months, and a plan of action regarding the Frank’s property has not been mentioned once in Council’s Chambers since that fateful January 28 meeting.
DORA Program (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area)
On May 19, 2020, the City Administration reported that a DORA program for the city was being explored. At the following Council meeting on June 2, the DORA discussion was deferred to Councilmember Zech’s committee (Laws, Rules, & Ordinances). Councilmember Zech stated a meeting discussing DORA would take place sometime in the coming weeks. That meeting has not been called. Council will take its summer recess during the first week of August and will not be back in session until August 18, which puts the running tally up to 77 days with no DORA meeting being called. On the contrary, the City of Hamilton recently expanded its DORA program. When it was initially brought up, a unanimous 6-0 vote in favor of expanding seized the day. The City of Hamilton accomplished this feat in just one month. Hamilton sold 10,000 DORA cups in the first two years of the program. So far in 2020, the city has already sold over 30,000 DORA cups. This program has allowed its bar district to not only survive the difficulties of COVID-19 but positions its business district to flourish in the face of this pandemic.
- UPDATE: A meeting with the City Administration and City Council is scheduled for August 11, 2020, at City Hall beginning at 7 PM. -
Loud Music Ordinance
On May 5, 2020, Donald Feerer asked City Council to add some clearer parameters to its ordinance regarding loud music during non-restricted hours. The police came to Mr. Feerer’s home for a noise complaint in the early afternoon on a weekday. Mr. Feerer was told later that evening that Councilmember Zech will investigate the matter with the Laws, Rules & Ordinances Committee at a future date. On May 19, Councilmember Hardig asks if any follow up information was available regarding Mr. Feerer’s complaint. Councilmember Zech stated she would present some information at the June 2 meeting; however, no information was presented at the June 2, June 16, or July 7 meetings. It more than likely will be at least four months since Mr. Feerer spoke with council before any information is brought forward.
"I Never Worry About Action, Only Inaction," - Winston Churchill
Being critical of decisions made in the unknown is a very easy position to take from the sidelines. However, the total lack of decision making, and even at the bare minimum, calling a meeting to order via Zoom within two months, is unacceptable.
To be clear, Council met for a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes from April through June. This does not include July. Councilman Voss did call a Committee Finance meeting before the first City Council meeting in July. Councilwoman Richter volunteers time with the WestSide Market and nearly all members attended the TAP meeting at the Fieldhouse. So, to be fair, just because Council’s work isn’t documented in the minutes, doesn’t mean they aren’t working.
During the TAP meeting, Mayor Keller outlined a multi-million-dollar investment plan along Harrison Avenue. The street will be widened, and speed bumps will be installed throughout. If motorists are slowed down from 40 mph to 25 mph, they may notice a local business they blazed past a million times before from their rear-view mirror, and they might even be inclined to stop and go inside. That’s the idea anyway.
Mayor Keller stressed that these things take time, and a certain amount of patience needs to be expected from the public. He stated that the city is committed to this plan, and I for one, believe him, and I think you should as well. However, the elephant in Council Chambers remains, and needs to be addressed. There are too many committees and not enough meetings, and too many meetings without enough decisions; and with the August recess approaching, too many breaks without breaking a sweat.