New Philadelphia Council president earns chamber award

New Philadelphia Council president earns chamber award

Image Credit: Lori Feeney

At the Jan. 23 meeting of New Philadelphia City Council, Mayor Joel Day congratulated Don Kemp, council president, on being named to the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. The owner of Kemp Insurance Agency, Kemp will be recognized at the chamber’s annual awards celebration on Feb. 1 at the Performing Arts Center.

Day also congratulated Buckeye Career Center on being named Large Business of the Year and Custom Needle-Print for winning the Small Business of the Year from the chamber.

Continuing his mayor’s report, Day announced a public forum scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in council chambers to gather feedback on the ideal route the Towpath Trail should take through the city.

Law Director Marvin Fete said he is working on updating several city ordinances including those governing loitering, rental registration and vacant property registration.

Parks and recreation chair Mitch Pace said the city will hold a Trout Derby Day at the Tuscora Park pond. The plan is to introduce 800 trout into the pond for fishing. Pace said he is waiting for a date to be set by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Public comments

Concerns about the possible location of a new homeless shelter again dominated the public comments portion of the meeting.

John and Mary Hvizdos objected to the shelter being built in their neighborhood near Beaver Avenue, which would only be made possible if council grants a zoning variance.

John Hvizdos said while everyone deserves a second chance, “To jam it in the middle of a neighborhood, it’s affecting a lot of residents.” He also said part of the property being considered is in a flood plain.

“I feel the shelter shouldn’t be put in anybody’s neighborhood,” said Mary Hvizdos, who also asked council about the status of the issue.

Kemp said once a new council person is appointed to fill the vacancy left by Jim Seldenright’s resignation, Cheryl Ramos, chair of the zoning and annexation committee, will schedule a meeting to hear the request.

Carl Russo said he is not concerned about the location of the shelter because the homeless who are seeking help are not the problem. He said those who do not want help are the problem.

“I can look out my window and see drug activity right outside the alley next to my house. We see drug activity all over the place,” Russo said.

Rev. Joseph Svancara is president of the board of directors of the Friends of the Homeless, the organization looking to build a new shelter. “We honestly appreciate all those who are willing to stand and give their opinions,” he said. “There are some things we did not know about the property that are making us look again and making us consider if this is, in fact, the right choice.”

Svancara said the organization is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit business. “But it has been insinuated on occasions that we are not a business, not a social service agency and not a residence. So what are we?” he said.

Svancara added the upcoming redevelopment of the city’s zoning code would be a good opportunity to create a better classification for a homeless shelter.

Legislation passed

—A resolution to contract with the county commissioners and the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office for the housing of inmates in the county jail at a rate of $80 per day through 2023.

—An ordinance to allow the service director to enter into contracts on behalf of the city for various materials such as asphalt, salt, gasoline, diesel fuel and water pipe.

Council meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers at the John Knisely Municipal Centre, 150 E. High Ave.