UPDATE: 09/01/2011 AT 1:00 PM - AMPLIFICATION OF LEASE TERMS
UPDATE: 10:45 AM - CLARIFICATION ON THE $10,000 STUDY
Since the publication of the original blog, the SCPR has spoken with Hillary Mueller. She says that the $10,000 figure, more or less, was her estimate of what the city was planning to spend on drainage issue analysis.
Councilman Snyder tells The Report that he has not discussed a proposed North Canton study with the Muellers and that they would have any such discussions with Mayor Held or one his administration official. Moreover, he says that he never moved to scrap the study and that it is still on the table and should be forthcoming about the end of September.
Fourth Ward (North Canton) Councilman and, in fact, Council President Jon Snyder may have unintentionally put the city owned Arrowhead Country Club back into headlines this week. Headlines that may not be all that good (politically, that is) for the 14-year North Canton councilman.
July 19, 2011, the day of the rainfall deluge and manifold flooding in North Canton, may have an additional consequence of being a turning point in possible political leadership changes occurring in North Canton come the November election.
In a storm of controversy which involved the then Councilman Chuck Osborne (not currently a councilman, but who is running this time around for councilman-at-large), North Canton in April, 2003 purchased the 105 acre Arrowhead complex for $4.2 million.
Osborne was so opposed to the acquisition that not being content in simply voting "no" as the lone dissenter to the buy, he started a petition drive to put the question to North Canton voters via a referendum initiative.
As Osborne tells it, Councilman Snyder and the then Mayor Rice were the leading proponents of the transaction.
In researching the matter, the SCPR was surprised to see The Repository editorial board entered into the fray "hot and heavy" in coming down hard on Osborne, to wit: the following excerpts:
"Ordinarily, we would not so quickly oppose a referendum that gives people a chance to become directly involved in the decisions of governance.
A newspaper that participates in "Sunshine Week" every spring of the year selectively chooses when citizens should have the right to weigh in on government decisions?
And brings the full weight of being the only newspaper in a "one newspaper town" and Stark County's "only countywide newspaper" down on a citizen activist?
As a consequence of being flooded out because of runoff from the North Canton owned Arrowhead Country Club, Daniel and Hillary Mueller contacted their councilman, who happens to be Jon Snyder, seeking a resolution of the runoff problem.
In the course of conversation, Councilman Snyder is said to have let it out that North Canton had been planning to spend $10,000 to do a study on ways to fix the problem.
What happened next is in dispute:
The Report is told that Snyder then indicated that funding the study would not be a wise course of action since North Canton was in negotiations to sell the property.
Here is where reports of the Mueller/Snyder exchange get dicey.
Daniel Mueller (from his email response to SCPR questions):
Jon Snyder did mention the sale of Fairways golf course and the loss the city would have [been] in excess of 1M. He denied officially when confronted at the meeting last night during new business session, and unofficially acknowledged the lease [North Canton leases Arrowhead out for $150,000 per year, but pays the property tax except for newly added taxes which amounts to about $53,000 per year] was ending Dec 31st [lessee does has option to renew for two three year terms] and the sale of the property could occur at that time.Jon Snyder (in a telephone conversation) made the following points to the SCPR:
- Arrowhead Country Club generated draining problems (existent since 1946/1947) will only get fixed if and when the complex is sold because a new owner would have to comply with city enforced subdivision regulations,
- North Canton cannot fix the problems because the property is under lease and therefore the city cannot impose a drainage solution,
- That the Mueller take on the property being up for sale was due, perhaps, to a misunderstanding. He says he was talking about the city being approached to renegotiate lease terms and conditions; not about negotiations concerning an imminent sale. "At this particular time there is nothing on the table [concerning a sale]," he said.
- On the Mueller flooding problem he said that he thinks he has been attentive to them, the discussions have been firm and not hostile and that Hillary Mueller said to him: "Not addressing her flooding problem is not acceptable."
Snyder speculates that she has filed because of what he terms "her moral claim," presumably not having the flooding problem fixed which Snyder says is beyond his power to deliver.
The SCPR is in the process of setting up an interview with Hillary Mueller and plans on doing a follow-up blog (or an update of this blog) on the reasons she gives (as opposed to Snyder's conjecture) as to why she is running for the 4th Ward seat.
While it is clearly an uphill if not a virtually impossible task to win on a write-in basis, for Snyder (who came out "unopposed" for "on the ballot" candidates which had an August 10th filing deadline) the mere possibility that Mueller could parlay his and the city's failure to solve long standing flooding problems has to be somewhat discomforting.
In any event, no matter who one believes as to whether or not Snyder spoke to the Muellers about an imminent sale, it is clear that the fate of Arrowhead Country Club has emerged (because of Snyder bringing up Arrowhead's status) as "one hot - political potato" for the North Canton City Council and the Held administration and 4th Ward Councilman Jon Snyder, in particular.