Back in July, 2009 the SCPR did a blog on the then City of Canal Fulton plan "to build a bridge err sewer line to nowhere."
The sewer line has been built and now Canal Fulton, Stark County and Ohio are working together to compel those living along the line and and outside of Canal Fulton to hook on.
Canal Fulton, Lawrence Township officials, and state Senator Kirk Schuring have participated in two what Schuring calls citizen "participatory" meetings (June 24, 2010 and August 24, 2010) to answer "mechanics and cost" questions about the certain reality that Marshallville residents will within two years be on the sewer line unless they can get a up to five year deferment from county officials because of financial hardship.
So the meetings are not "participatory" in terms of have an option to hook onto the line or not.
To be more accurate, state Senator Schuring should have labeled them "informational meetings." Schuring's elaboration makes it clear that he apparently meant to say "informational" rather than "participatory."
It seems "forcing" citizens to do what they haven't consented to is in vogue in Stark County in modern times.
If memory serves the SCPR right, back in the 1990s Lake Township trustees formed a water district for the township as provided for by Ohio statutory law.
The residents in overwhelming numbers did not want the district. However, there was no mechanism in the law to undo the district.
There were many heated meetings in Lake over the "imposed" water district with residents demanding that the district be dismantled.
Eventually, because of the political heat, a lawsuit was filed and the Stark County Court of Common Pleas fashioned a remedy where none was provided in the statute that enabled creation of the district.
As a side note, Democrat Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., who then represented Lake in the Ohio House (the 56th) turned a deaf ear to constituents wanting him to introduce legislation to provide for a dismantlement mechanism.
Was this some sort of mistake by the Ohio General Assembly?
Not at all. It is part of an intentional overall plan by state government to force as many of Ohio families as possible off of their ground water (wells) and septic tanks.
Back in December, 2008, Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) "imposed" a 0.50 of a percent sales tax increase on Stark Countians for their (the citizens') good. The good? Reconstructing 9-1-1 emergency dispatching. However, a little publicized aspect of the 0.50 was that half of it was designated for the Stark County general fund.
A group, the "Vote No Increased Taxes," formed, gathered over 20,000 signatures and successfully led a campaign to reject retention of the imposed tax.
An aside: All the candidates for county commissioner in the November,
2010 election have committed themselves to: "no imposed tax increases."
"A build it and [they] will come" exercise a la the 1989 movie Field of Dreams seems to be in full bloom in Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township, but with an odd twist.
Yes, an "arm twist!"
In the movie Field of Dreams, the speculatively constructed ball field was an irresistible lure to long dead baseball players to return to play the game once again and fulfill their dreams to redeem their frustrations.
But "the sewer project to nowhere" has the twist that the lure is to more or less force - over five to seven years - families currently living along the Marshallville Street, NW corridor (outside the city limits of Canal Fulton) to hook on to the sewer line. A sewer line that it appears none of them wanted.
And get this. State of Ohio money (via the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; i.e. "stimulus" money) paid for about half of the project because it was "shovel ready" and because it qualified to help Ohio get the Marshallville Street families off of their septic systems in pursuit of the overall Ohio goal.
MORAL OF THE STORY
The SCPR believes that the Canal Fulton sewer project is a current and a Stark County example of the use of the heavy hand of government to force the unwanted on Stark County citizens.
By forcing the unwanted upon the citizenry, governments (local, state and national) are fueling an antagonism between the governors and the governed. Many government officials shake their heads at the growing unruliness of citizens.
While the SCPR does not condone the increasing citizen belligerence that is apparent at government meetings these days, one has to wonder whether or not government officials play a causative role by how they do the public's business.
Canal Fulton City Council and Mayor Grogan apparently egged on by City Manager Mark Cozy (according to a source) may think they have pulled off a cute move with this project. But have they?
Are the chickens now coming home to roost?
The SCPR's take (a view that Senator Schuring seems to confirm in his videotaped comments) is that Canal Fulton's initiative does not appear in reality to be primarily about eliminating ground pollution and thereby be in compliance with the primary objective of the funding source (the Ohio Clean Water Act administered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency [OEPA]).
Rather the "real" objective from Canal Fulton's perspective appears to be a desire by Canal Fulton officials to increase in size by using the sewer project to push Marshallville Street residents into the City on the lure of a Canal Fulton subsidy on the sewer line hookup. Moreover, they seem to hope, co-incidently, that the sewer line will prove to be its "field of dreams" to lure companies to Canal Fulton and thereby spur economic development.
Was it proper for Canal Fulton to get money from the Ohio EPA for the ostensible purpose of lessening ground water pollution (which presumably denied other Ohio communities the opportunity to get these funds) and then constructing the line for publicly stated purposes of annexation and economic development?
The Report believes that these kinds of maneuvers are what increase citizen negativity towards the operations of government at all levels.
Here is a video of some of the citizens and government interaction on the heated meeting that took place at Lawrence Township Hall on August 24th.