Sunday, May 01, 2005

If you missed it...

Front page of the Record Courier today (Sunday) - comments inline with the article.

Windham officials hope levy will lift village
Tom Prusha

WINDHAM - Many of the village residents are perfectly happy with where they live.

“This is a delightful community. Many of us chose to live here. We have a lot of terrific people. I personally wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else,” said Councilwoman Marian Garrett.

This happiness exists in spite of the village’s deep financial problems which trace back to the early 1940s. That’s when the U.S. government built the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant which took about a third of Windham Township, effectively stopping all development to the south.

As part of that construction, the government built apartment buildings to house arsenal workers.

“This was a good place to come and live. It had a waiting list,” said Mayor Jesse Starkey.

After World War II many ex-military people came to live in the government projects, Maple Grove Park, and attend Kent State University on the G.I. Bill. Others worked at the arsenal.

“People couldn’t find housing during the war years. People living in Windham worked in Warren, Newton Falls, Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland,” said Garrett.

Council President C. James Moore said one of the ironies is that the government brought its projects into a small rural community in the 1940s and then sold them.

“They washed their hands and never looked upon the impact of what they did for the community,” he said.

The difference is that in the 40's, there was no expectation of the government to look upon the impact of the community. Instead of worrying about the possible bad effecs, the community was more concerned about their day to day lives. Surely people recognize that the comraderie of community is lost on our village today.

The buyer was the Philnat Corporation.

And thus the true problem begins. Mismanagement of owned properties by private owners.

“Philnat allowed the projects to deteriorate and it was sold to private owners in the early to mid-1950s,” Garrett said. “There are now many individual apartment owners. The government no longer owns this.”

Is this a condemnation of the government for selling the project homes? I'd likely be complaining more if they still owned them. The government has a *stellar* record when it comes to management of anything in the private sector.

Yes, that was sarcastic.

“We all care about our community. We prefer to take positive attitudes and hope and pray that the levy will pass,” she said.

The levy, Issue 21, asks for approval of a half percent income tax increase. If approved, the measure would generate about $110,000 annually
for the village, which would be used to maintain services at the current level.

“Right now we are in a pinch. Our police officers should be training. There are a lot of places this levy will help,” Starkey said. “We need a new one-ton dump truck. If we have to repair a water break, our only truck is set up for snow plow. We have to rent one.”

Umm, huh?

“You can’t spend what you don’t have,” he said.

Village services remain bogged down by Maple Grove Park.

Wait, I just realized the Maple Grove Park is the official name for the projects! See, you do learn something new every day.

“We figure we house 27 percent of Portage County’s poverty and that is ridiculous,” Garrett said. “Windham has more police calls than any other village in Portage County and 96 percent of the calls come from the projects.”

So it really seems that we don't necessarily have a village problem. We have a Maple Grove Park problem. Perhaps our solutions should be directed in that area.

The village has long-range plans and ideas which will officials hope will ease the financial crises.

Zoning has been changed to prohibit rebuilding the apartment buildings in Maple Grove Park.

“We changed the zoning from multi-family and as they come down, they can be replaced only by single-family dwellings. That’s a move to correct the situation and it will take a long time to do that,” Moore said.

Village officials are hoping that an industrial park could be built.

But there are problems. Most of the available property is individually owned and is not served with water and sewers.

“We currently have one property owner who has acreage with the services,” Moore said.

The village is in a good location for such an industrial park.

“We offer easy access to the turnpike, about 10 minutes to the east on S.R. 5, and 10 minutes to the west at S.R. 44.

The fight against the village’s poor finances is united.

“We seem to be working as a team all the way,” said Starkey.

“And we all care about our community. We prefer to take positive attitudes and hope and pray that the levy will pass,” Garrett said.

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