BG mayor: City is prepared for an East Palenstine-like event


In the wake of the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Bowling Green Councilman Bill Herald asked Mayor Mike Aspacher for an overview of the city’s emergency response protocols for such an event.

“I am confident that the city has planned for circumstances such as these,” Aspacher said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

He said he is also confident that if such an event were to occur in Bowling Green, there is a significant plan with structures in place, and that employees will respond appropriately.

Aspacher said that the city’s detailed emergency operations plan is the result of extensive planning involving all city departments, and that the city’s police and fire are nationally-accredited. All city departments are continuously updating their policies and procedures, and working with additional agencies on planning and training matters, he said.

Aspacher also said that there is a sequential notification process in the plan which starts with the municipal administrator. He further noted that, while currently the city’s emergency operations center is housed in the police division, a larger center is being constructed in the new city building.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Introduced, gave three readings to, and unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing Utilities Director Brian O’Connell to enter into agreements for the purchase of approximately 36.24 acres for the city’s water treatment plant. According to the legislative package document prepared for council, there is interest in expanding raw water storage capacity and the parcel to the north of the reservoir has been considered as a potential option. The property owner was contacted, negotiations took place, and a purchase agreement has been signed.

The price is $724,800, or $20,000 per acre, and there are funds in the Water Capital Reserve Fund for this purchase. Additionally, there is a benefit in being adjacent to the reservoir. The document noted that the agreement is contingent on a few items, and that the city will not be able to utilize the entire parcel for reservoir expansion since the Nexus Gas Pipeline runs diagonally across the property and cuts off the northeast corner. It is believed that about 25 acres will be usable for this project although this is a high-level review. Using the existing reservoir as an example, the hope is to add at least 100 (million gallons) of raw water storage to the site, possibly up to 150 MG.

During the lobby visitation portion of the meeting, resident Jim Evans, who said he is a hydrologist, said he supported the plan, but said it is “necessary but not sufficient.” He said the city needs additional capacity, including a water well-field. “The climate crisis is coming our way,” he said.

• Introduced an ordinance authorizing O’Connell to enter into contracts with Badger Meter for water metering equipment. According to the legislative package document, the 2023 budget includes $478,000 for the purchase of the meters.

• Introduced an ordinance authorizing O’Connell to enter into contracts with Spectrum Engineering Corporation for engineering services related to electric substation 69kV relay upgrades. Relays are recommended to be replaced at three of the city’s substations. The quoted cost of the project is $60,440.

• Approved the reappointment of Bob Midden to the board of health through Feb. 28, 2028.

• Heard that the third-annual Porch Fest event will be held June 6 from 2-7 p.m., and that plans are in place to handle garbage, recycling and restrooms.

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