The following letters to the editor appeared in the Geauga County Maple Leaf on May 5, 2016. Our thanks to the Maple Leaf for permission to republish this article. For more local news, visit the Maple Leaf website.
SAY NO TO CELL TOWERS
At the most recent park board meeting, Mr. Oros, park director, presented a new proposal.
As has become the standard operating procedure, this proposal did not appear on the agenda, but, like snowmobiling in the park, was presented as an end-of-meeting surprise.
In a new twist on the park’s motto of “connect,” he proposed that the board consider allowing at least two cell towers to be erected in the parks (perhaps, according to park documents, three).
They each will occupy the space of a medium size to large house, plus access road, and reach approximately 200 feet in the air.
I have sent a letter to the board members asking them to reject this proposal.
I would encourage people to come to the next board meeting, May 10, 10 a.m., at Big Creek to express your opinion. (You will need to double check the park web site because the meetings have occasionally been cancelled or changed when it appears that the subject to be discussed is controversial.)
You will need to sign in, state what agenda item you wish to speak about, limit your comments to three minutes (total 30 minutes for all participants on all subjects), and, on the advice of legal counsel, the board will not generally answer questions or engage with you; but, at least, you can get your opinion on record and before them.
FLYERS NOT WORTH PARK MONEY
I received a flyer from the Geauga Park District, which I found puzzling as to why park money was spent on the flyer, and puzzling as to who is referenced as the “few misinformed people.”
If the flyer is referring to Protect Geauga Parks, a well-established and well informed nonprofit citizens’ group, I believe that should have been stated.
PGP’s mission is “to promote, support and actively campaign for Conservation, Preservation and Protection of Nature as the primary mission of our parks.”
PGP represents “the strong majority of people who want common sense and good governance to prevail in our parks. We understand that the protection of nature is vital to our health and well-being. We are Friends of Geauga Parks. We know that the land
conserved within our parks underpins the environmental health of the entire community. The point of a park is to connect people with nature. Our county parks were expressly created for the preservation and conservation of fast-disappearing natural areas.”
Geauga Park District Rules and Regulations (as posted on the park website as of May 1, 2016) state the similar mission of the park district: “to preserve, conserve and protect the natural features of Geauga County and to provide the opportunity for people to enjoy and appreciate those resources.”
I enjoy and am proud of our Geauga County parks, but I believe park dollars would be better spent on land acquisition and nature programming instead of glossy flyers that supply no real information.
I am sad and frustrated that the park district commissioners do not work closely with PGP for the good of our parks and for our common goals.
BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST
Yet another “whack-a-mole” decision is under consideration by the latest version of the Geauga Park District board. This time cell phone towers placed in our parks are being considered.
Once again, an issue the public should have to opportunity to comment upon has been brought to the table at the last moment, with no mention on the agenda.
John Oros seems to use the “commissioners time” as his opportunity to push forward issues he and his boss want to force through with little public scrutiny. This is a betrayal of the public trust.
As citizens, we need to encourage a rational decision making process from those entrusted to serve the public. Such a process looks like this:
1. It’s it compatible with the primary mission of the organization?
2. It’s it fiscally responsible when all of the costs are assessed?
Fiscal responsibility includes not only prudent spending of current funds, but also the management of assets in a manner that enables the organization to continue its mission into the future.
3. It’s it necessary?
Due diligence must be done to assure the change does not duplicate services and that organization and its customers are likely to benefit from this decision.
And for those who work for the public, this final step must be required:
4. Has the decision-making process been transparent? Has all of the information used to address the first three criteria been made readily available to all citizens? Has the public had the opportunity to comment on the issue and have these comments been addressed?
I urge all citizens to demand a rational decision-making process from all organizations dealing with public assets. The next meeting of the Geauga Park District board is 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 10 at the Meyer Center at Big Creek Park, 9160 Robinson Road, Chardon Township.
Please be there if you can.