Letters to Editor—Chagrin Valley Times, November 8, 2018

Opening of Claridon costly

I’m sure by now many of you folks know that many of us are critical of some of the spending by the Geauga Park District since the Judge Timothy Grendell takeover. In the past, I’ve mentioned the $150,000 budgeted for advertising that often paid for expensive television ads that were broadcast all over Northeast Ohio. Spending for amusements seems to have taken over as a priority over protecting natural areas, endangered species and the protection of our Geauga environment.

The latest excess was demonstrated at the opening day of Geauga’s Claridon Woodlands Park. Many of you who attended may have wondered who paid for all the face painters, musicians, etc. on hand to amuse and entertain. We all did folks. In looking through the park payment vouchers, I noted many targeted to payment for Claridon park opening day. The total added up to just about $15,000 at last count with more bills likely yet to be paid. It would not surprise me at all if the final total amounts to more for just one day.

Hopefully when we have another probate judge who appoints commissioners with other priorities our park district will get back to the business of keeping Geauga rural and natural, the business it did well for over 50 years.

John G. Augustine

Parkman Township

Lesson in park districts

The class was getting started and the teacher told the boys and girls to take their seats. It was time to begin the class. That day’s topic was on understanding park districts. The teacher explained that the first thing students needed to know was that there are several kinds of park districts. One is called a 1545 park district. The number refers to the section in the Ohio law that allows parks to be created. That day’s discussion was about 1545 park districts. The teacher explained that in Ohio law, 1545 park districts are controlled by the local county probate judge.

Here is how. The probate judge appoints a park board to manage the parks. They serve at his pleasure. He can dismiss and replace them as he pleases. So a judge can choose carefully putting only people who will do what he wants on a board. If they don’t follow his directions they will be dismissed and replaced. Then Bobby, a thoughtful student, raised his hand and asked why a judge would care so much about the parks when he should be busy with other court things. The teacher explained that park tax levies produce millions of dollars of income and there were thousands of acres of land to control. She explained how all kinds of contracts could be given to friends. She also talked about how park lands could be used for gas and oil drilling and logging and possibly even sold to developers to build houses on. Then Little Mary’s hand shot up. She said that our judge told everyone that he had “no say” in how the parks were run and asked if he was not telling the truth. Loud Eddie yelled out that the judge’s nose will get long like Pinocchio’s. This was getting very interesting but at about that time the bell rang and class ended.

Dave Partington

Munson Township

Russell has no voice in parks

The Russell Township Park Board (1545) held a special meeting on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 a.m. Visit (case sensitive) for a recording of the meeting.

At this before-dawn meeting, the board approved 2018 permanent appropriations of $84,926 (WOW!), increased the amounts of 2018 purchase orders for a number of items (including $20,000 for legal services and $14,000 for accounting services) and authorized a total of $6,702 to two different attorneys just since the last time checks were approved on Oct. 8 (where they paid out another $3,622 to attorneys). They also changed their bylaws to meet quarterly instead of monthly (making the next scheduled meeting in January), and they ratified all actions taken since Nov. 21, 2017 (presumably because the commissioners’ bonds were not filed as required by law before they were permitted to take any actions as commissioners).

The park commissioners – Scott Wayt, Dennis Suhay and Donna Weiss Carson – refused to allow any public comment. This was the board’s first meeting since they voted to lease most of their parks to Geauga Park District. As you will hear on the video, the 15 or so people who came early on a Saturday morning to attend the meeting were not happy that we were not given an opportunity to speak to the commissioners.

Unless they call a special meeting, there will be no public opportunity to speak to the Russell Township Park Board commissioners until January, if they decide to allow public comment at that meeting. Remember also that the Geauga Park District, which now is operating our larger Russell parks pursuant to the lease, never allows public comment at their meetings. Russell residents now have no voice in what happens to the parks we paid for with our Russell tax dollars.

Both the Russell Township Park Board and the Geauga Park District Board are appointed by Geauga County Probate Judge Timothy Grendell. The time has come to hold Judge Grendell responsible for the actions of his commissioners, who have stolen Russell residents’ tax dollars and voices.

Shelley Chernin

Russell Township

Categories: Commentary

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