BG Council begins meeting in new ‘digs’


By Peter Kuebeck

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It was the beginning of a new era Monday as Bowling Green Council held its first meeting in the council chambers of the new city administration building.

“I would like to welcome you all to our new digs,” said Council President Mark Hollenbaugh at the start of the meeting.

Monday marked the first time that council held a meeting in the new building, located at 305 N. Main St. The former building, at 304 N. Church St., was already partially demolished by Monday’s meeting; it could be seen just yards away from the new building’s main entrance, marked off by fencing.

Mayor Mike Aspacher expressed gratitude to Bowling Green citizens for their patience throughout the construction process, and the move from the old building to the new, as well as for their ongoing patience as the demolition takes place. The site of the former building will be utilized for parking.

“We’re mindful of that, as far as that, it’s not easy to get to us right now,” he said, saying that they are trying to ensure that there is signage to help citizens get to where they need to go.

“Again, just really grateful for the public’s patience as we undergo this process,” Aspacher said. “Also thankful for staff and their patience. It was a pretty monumental task moving from old building into new. … I think they’re settling in and recognizing the benefits of this new building.”

During her report, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter took note of a communications disruption that the city experienced last week, due to a networking issue. The problem caused issues with email and phone systems.

“Our staff really rose to the occasion,” she said, “and staff worked very cohesively to find alternative ways to continue serving citizens. … Our citizens were also very patient with us as we went through that process.”

Tretter further lauded the city’s IT staff, saying they worked around the clock to address the issue.

“They performed amazingly well under intense pressure,” she said. “They were devoted, they were dogged, and we did get the issue resolved.”

Also at the meeting, council:

• Heard, during a meeting of the finance committee held earlier Monday evening, an update on the city’s finances through the second quarter of 2023. Among her reports, Finance Director Dana Pinkert noted that, regarding income tax receipts through July, “we are still on target for what we budgeted.”

Through July, the city received $14.98 million in income taxes, nearly $225,000 or 4.41% higher than originally estimated.

“From a 2023 budget consideration, there’s not any red flags or any material concerns at the end of the second quarter,” Pinkert said.

She said that they are still watching the economy and inflationary issues, which will play into the 2024 budget process.

• Heard from Public Infrastructure Director Brian O’Connell that the city’s water treatment plant was selected for a $1.2 million state grant to help fund work on an aging low-service pump station. O’Connell said that the station is original to the plant and the project will help increase its capacity, aiding with filling the reservoir.

• Heard from Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Hinkelman, who thanked the city for their support for the BG Boom fireworks event in observance of Independence Day.

• Heard from Public Services Director Joe Fawcett, who provided an update on security camera installation at City Park. Fawcett said that some cameras have been installed at the park, and that they have proved helpful, and additional cameras are slated to be installed soon.

• Introduced a resolution authorizing the city to participate in the Local Park Improvement Grant Program, to file an application for the program, and to accept grant funding upon the approval of a grant application. According to the legislative package document prepared for council, “Parks and Recreation Department staff intend to apply for funds to help fund the purchase of a climbing rock (playground equipment) for the Children’s Garden at Simpson Garden Park, sports equipment for Carter Park, and security cameras for use throughout the park system.”

• Introduced an ordinance amending sections 150.85, 150.87 and 150.89 of the Codified ordinances. According to the legislative package document, “per request of Council President Mark Hollenbaugh, this legislation sunsets non-conforming occupancy uses after” 28 years. The legislation relates to non-conforming properties in the city; if approved, after the 28-year time period, the properties would be required to adhere to the city’s zoning code.

• Introduced an ordinance authorizing a “no-build” easement in John Quinn Business Park. According to the legislative package document, currently a project known as “Project Bulk” is “moving forward with a significant expansion” in that business park. The property is located east of the Bowling Green Municipal Court. The business requested that the city consider a 20-foot “no-build” easement on a part of the land where the two properties meet.

“The easement will benefit the business in terms of its building classification,” the document stated. “Staff reviewed the request and recommends that easement be granted. The city has no immediate plans to build on this property. Even if future plans were to be developed, this easement would not be a hindrance as there … is a minimum rear yard setback of 20 (feet) for both Institutional zoning and the Innovation and Employment Zone.”

• Heard that council’s annual strategic planning meeting will be held Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. in the conference room adjacent to council chambers. The meeting is open to the public.

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