Letters to Editor Chagrin Valley Times July 4, 2019

Wetlands credits blood money
As many of you folks know, some of us have been very critical of the direction the Geauga Park District has been traveling since Geauga Probate Judge Timothy Grendell took over and appointed park commissioners that many of us feel are not appropriate to the job at hand. A good example from the May commissioners meeting well illustrates the problem.

Park board President Mr. Andrej N. Lah spoke enthusiastically at the meeting about selling more wetland mitigation credits. For those not familiar with these credits let me explain.

An organization such as the Geauga Park District can sell credits to a broker that requires the park district to protect a given amount of park wetlands from destruction or degradation. The broker then arranges a so called developer to purchase these credits that allows that individual or corporation to destroy some pristine wetland where he or she may be interested in putting in a parking lot or a building.

You may wonder why a park district should have to sell credits to protect its wetland habitat. We support park districts to purchase and protect disappearing natural areas such as wetlands and old growth forests. Protection of their holdings should be ingrained to their philosophy. Secondly, when the park district acquires this money, it is in essence blood money to allow a developer to destroy some pristine land elsewhere.

At the same meeting that Mr. Lah expressed his enthusiasm about selling wetland credits, the park commissioners approved putting a renewal levy on the November ballot reducing the millage. That means less funds for our parks. Strange, since park responsibilities have been increasing as have projected expenses into the future. What comes next, maybe selling park land to finance zip lines? Park districts should not be financing their operations by taking actions that destroy natural areas in other places, period.
One wonders if Mr. Lah or the other commissioners even know the intricacies of wetland mitigation credits. None asked any questions or made any comments on the subject.

Paul Pira, the park biologist, was present and they could have questioned him. Presumably, present park employees are not allowed to make comments or ask questions unless actually queried by one of the commissioners. A number of us present could have made pertinent comments but alas, the public is still not allowed to speak publicly at meetings.
Park board members don’t seem to have the background, knowledge of natural areas or interest in learning from those who do to be effective commissioners of a park district where natural areas, habitat protection and endangered/threatened species protection should be of highest priority.

The only way to correct the situation is to replace the person who appoints the commissioners. If Judge Grendell is re-elected in 2020 for another 6 years, damage to our treasured Geauga parks may well be irreversible. And by the way, I do support the passage of the renewal levy in November.

John G. Augustine
Parkman Township

Public money comes from taxpayers
I am writing about the recent scuffle with juvenile court employees at the Geauga County Auditor’s office, and in response to a letter to the editor previously directed toward me from the attorney who handles the juvenile court help desk. First, I wasn’t making “disparaging” remarks in my letter. I was raising questions, most of which were not answered. And, I would like to point out that all the services of the juvenile court come from taxpayers’ pockets.

The Court budget does not come from the personal incomes of the spenders, except perhaps, from their taxes paid. I am happy to see people standing up against what I see as a long term abuse of power in this county and abuse of taxpayer money and trust. If only people would be as diligent at holding all the juvenile systems in the state of Ohio accountable for wasting money on substandard care and for refusing to reform the systems quickly enough to easily receive federal matching funds. Too many people have tapped into the income generated by the status quo, it seems to me.

Robin Neff

Categories: Commentary

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