Monday, November 25, 2013

Why is the North Canton Law Director Allowed to Intimidate Citizens and Dominate All Dialog at City Council Meetings?


Prepared Comments Made to
November 25, 2013 

            As most everyone in this room is aware, North Canton City Council is made up of seven elected representatives. Members of City Council are elected from each of the City’s four wards and three at-Large council members are elected by the voters citywide. 

            Anyone in attendance at a North Canton City Council meeting of yesteryear would be totally at a loss to explain the transformation of a North Canton City Council meeting of today.  

            As a member of North Canton City Council in the early part of the last decade (2001-2003), I would like to contrast the transformation I have witnessed in how City Council meetings have changed in this short time.  

In the good old days, as I would call them, citizens were allowed to speak at the start and conclusion of all four Monday night council meetings. Citizens were welcomed and their input on any issue they desired was heard without time limits or intimidation. 

            Today, that is not the case as citizens are time-limited and can only speak on alternating Monday night council meetings and only at the outset of a Council meeting. Council members show little interest in what residents have to say and disparage citizens after they have spoken. 

            Many times I have seen citizens attend a City Council meeting hoping to address their Council representatives in an open forum only to discover that their interest in the process of government occurred on the wrong Monday night meeting of Council. This happened to a resident last week when she was denied a chance to speak openly at last week’s public Council meeting on an issue under discussion by Council. 

            And of course, residents of the City who pick the correct Monday night meeting to address North Canton City Council will run headlong into North Canton’s new Law Director, Tim Fox, when their five minutes are up.  

Are we paying Mr. Fox the salary he is paid to be a timekeeper and to intimidate citizens of North Canton? 

            Why is Law Director Fox dominating nearly all the dialog on issues before City Council? 

This is not how North Canton City Council meetings were conducted in the good old days! 

            Mr. Snyder, you are the President of City Council. It is your responsibility to conduct City Council meetings. I am at a loss to explain how or why you have chosen to allow the City’s Law Director to take control of council meetings.  

The same question applies to the rest of the members of City Council. 

Mr. Fox is NOT an elected representative of the voters of North Canton.  

            Law Directors in the good old days only spoke at City Council meetings when their legal expertise was requested. Law Director Fox should not be making policy and dominating discussions that come before Council. Many of you have seen how past Law Directors conducted themselves: Roy Batista, Tom Treadon, Randy McFarren, Paul Pusateri, and Hans Nilges.  

North Canton Law Director Fox is out of control and his interferences during the meeting and domination of dialog on issues needs to come to an end. 

Switching topics, I would like to address two pieces of legislation that are to be voted on tonight.
            In regards to the proposed tax abatement for Insight Realty, LLC:

Mr. Snyder, at the end of last week’s meetings you announced that North Canton needed “revenue enhancement” and that you plan to recommend a Park Levy be placed on the ballot for North Canton taxpayers to consider next year. 

In light of the fact that citizens have heard all year long of the City’s financial plight and now your intention to place a Park Levy on the ballot in 2014, how can you justify a tax abatement for 15 years for Insight Realty, LLC? And to boot, Councilmember Mark Cerreta says that the intended recipients of the real property tax exemption already has a substantial presence in North Canton.  

Knowing the City’s financial plight and now knowing your intentions to ask taxpayers to support a new tax levy for City Parks while at the same time moving ahead with a tax exemption to Insight Reality is insulting to the citizens of North Canton. 

Ordinance No. 70-13 should be voted down.  

Lastly, I would like to address aspects of Ordinance No. 80-13 that propose to retitle the position of Chief Operator – Water Treatment Plant to Superintendent – Drinking Water Plant with a sizable increase in salary for the new position. 

For several years now, one half of the salaries of the City Administrator and the City Engineer have been paid out of the Water Fund. I seriously doubt that Mr. Grimes and Mr. Benekos spend half of their time on water issues. 

Paying general fund expenses out of enterprise water funds I believe is illegal. But assuming that the two highest paid City officials, the City Administrator and City Engineer, do indeed spend one-half of their time on water related issues, as their pay would indicate, why do the City’s taxpayers need to fund yet another high-paid position to deal with water issues, titled Superintendent – Water Treatment Plant? 

Ordinance No. 80-13 needs to be reworked and I would urge that it be tabled. Keep the present title of Chief Operator – Water Treatment Plant. There is no reason to create another high level position in water that will be filled with yet another patronage appointment by the Mayor. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton





Monday, November 11, 2013

Political Patronage and Cronyism Alive and Thriving as North Canton Searches for Water Superintendent

Prepared Comments Made to
November 11, 2013 

            Since June of this year, the Held Administration has known that its long-time Water Superintendent was going to retire at the end of October leaving a vacancy that cannot be filled by just anyone off the street. Rich Steinhebel, the recently retired water superintendent had all the necessary water certifications to hold the position and many years of experience in the operation of a water treatment plant as well as in water distribution. Mr. Steinhebel was a hands-on working head of the City’s Water Treatment Plant. 

            One would think that over the last four months the Held Administration would be doing a publicized search for an individual with all the necessary qualifications but apparently that has not been the case. 

            Last week, while I was in attendance at a hearing before the Ohio Elections Commission in Columbus, of all places, I learned that Mayor Held had offered the top position, of what I would call North Canton’s Water Czar, to local attorney Warren Price. 

            Mayor Held, how does an attorney, with no certifications or experience in water treatment and water distribution merit consideration, let alone an offer of employment, as North Canton’s Water Czar?
            And Mr. Snyder, I must ask you the same thing as you were the one who broke the news to all of us at the Elections Commission when you approached attorney Warren Price alleging that Mr. Price had a conflict of interest and should recuse himself as the attorney  for Jamie McCleaster and Hillary Mueller. You stated that City Council was writing the job description for the position so Mr. Price could fill the vacancy as Superintendent. 

            Prior to the hearing before the Elections Commission, Mr. Price confirmed to all of us in attendance that he indeed had been approached by Mayor David Held and had been offered the position but that he, Mr. Price, had declined the offer some weeks earlier.  

The ploy to scare off legal representation for Mr. McCleaster and Mrs. Mueller failed. Mr. Price remained as their attorney.  

Sorry to say, but despite the unequivocal denial by Mr. Price that he had declined Mayor Held’s offer of the position, it was disheartening to watch the President of North Canton City Council Snyder continue to insist in the hearing that Warren Price had accepted the position. It appeared to me that the President of North Canton City Council was questioning the veracity of Mr. Price.  

If Mr. Price were indeed about to be confirmed as North Canton’s Water Czar, why would Mr. Price have agreed to represent Mr. McCleaster and Mrs. Mueller against you and Mrs. Kiesling?  

Mr. Snyder, why would you continue to question his integrity?  

Mrs. Kiesling, as Vice-President of City Council, I ask: Are you comfortable that the Administration would offer the Water Superintendent’s position to an individual with no technical expertise in water?  

I was further disheartened to watch Mr. Snyder waffle under oath during the hearing and proclaim he was unable to confirm for the Elections Commission his very own words from a recording of a North Canton City Council meeting.  

If the Held Administration and the highest ranking officials of North Canton City Council are not questioning the process of filling the critically important position of Water Superintendent for the City of North Canton, who is? 

When is North Canton going to implement improved hiring best practices when filling high level positions in the City?  

Why isn’t there a search process written into the city’s personnel procedures that outline the proper way in which high-level leadership positions are to be filled in the city?  

Why aren’t individuals expected to be technically qualified for the position they are offered? 

Why is the employment process in North Canton always cloaked in secrecy? 

Mayor Held, there is no manner of transparency and accountability in cronyism.  

Cronyism should not be the accepted method to finding qualified individuals to fill high-level leadership positions in the City of North Canton.  

Most certainly it is not a way to fill such a critically important position as North Canton’s Water Superintendent. 

North Canton leadership must do better than this!

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton

Monday, September 30, 2013

North Canton Resorts to Extortion and Blackmail in the Name of Economic Development


Prepared Comments Made to
September 30, 2013
            I would like to address last week’s presentation regarding the proposed JEDD for Cain Toyota which is, in part, the basis for entering into a mutual economic agreement with the City of Canton and the townships of Plain and Jackson to be voted on tonight as Resolution No. 63-13. 

            I listened intently last Monday night and took close notes as Council President Snyder described the following: That Cain Motors could no longer meet their water needs with a well and that the City of North Canton was better positioned to extend a water line some great distance to Cain Motors as opposed to the City of Canton who would have to extend its waterline from 38th Street to provide water service. Mr. Snyder also said that Cain Motors would be afforded inside water rates in spite of the fact that Cain Toyota is outside the North Canton City limits. In exchange, Cain Motors would agree to the imposition of a two percent municipal income tax. 

            Wanting to dig deeper into the facts of this situation, I was able to meet the next morning with David Cain, the owner of Cain Motors. 

            I introduced myself to Mr. Cain and the first thing I said was, “I believe you are being blackmailed and I also believe the City of North Canton is being blackmailed.” Without hesitation Mr. Cain said, “I agree!” 

            What I learned next from Mr. Cain astounded me as he told me that his BMW dealership was presently a water customer of the City of North Canton and that the BMW dealership has received water from the City through a four-inch waterline for many years.  

I am very upset in the total misrepresentation of this entire situation at last week’s council meeting. North Canton has water lines already in place right across the street from Cain Motors and have been a North Canton water customer for years.  

Mr. Cain told me that when he built the BMW dealership several years earlier, he simply made a request for water services from North Canton and it was provided without delay.   

Mr. Cain related to me that his current request for expanded water service for his Toyota dealership has gone on for five months with numerous cost estimates from the City. Over the months of delay, he has appealed to State Representative Kirk Schuring and then to State Senator Scott Oelslager to prod North Canton into action. Three calls made to North Canton Mayor David Held for assistance were never returned. 

I am not sure when the idea of a JEDD was presented to Mr. Cain and the accompanying demand that an income tax be imposed, but Mr. Cain knew that the Toyota dealership could not open as scheduled without water service. As the weeks and months went by, he asked everyone he talked to why this wasn’t a simple business deal. North Canton has a product to sell and he wanted to buy it.

These demands on Cain Motors are nothing more than extortion and blackmail and I hope Mr. Cain seeks legal representation. 

North Canton has thousands of outside water customers. Are we going to let them become pawns in these games with the City of Canton and the townships of Plain and Jackson? 

The City of Canton is providing no services in this proposed JEDD and yet, like a mafia thug seeing easy money for the taking, they are slated to receive one third of the income tax collected for participating with Plain and Jackson Townships.  

This is not a collaboration of governments but a conspiracy of governments that border North Canton, designed to forever end annexations by North Canton in Plain and Jackson Township.  

Promises of additional income tax collections from the construction of two new hotels have been made to sell this pig-in-a-poke agreement. Hotels employ mostly minimum wage part-time employees. Not much in the way of income taxes here. And then you want to split it three ways?  

Extension of water service generally brings along with it annexations which allows North Canton to expand its borders in the future. The only other benefit to North Canton in extending water service outside the City is the added revenue from the higher outside water rates that subsidize inside rates, thus keeping water rates low for inside water users. 

For Mr. Cain, this was never about water rates but simply a need for more water. The offer of inside rates to an outside water user violates our long-standing water rate policy, is patently unfair to all North Canton water customers, and undermines the financial integrity of the City’s water fund. 

David Cain of Cain Motors has been very generous in supporting community events in North Canton and is known to many of you. I am stunned this City is treating Mr. Cain in this manner.  

North Canton water is enjoyed far beyond municipal boundaries. The City has spent decades putting in place this infrastructure. Do not now change course on all that this City has built. The current political climate will change in the future negating catastrophic proposals such as the one now before you.   

Consideration of this JEDD for Cain Motors by City Council simply makes this City and all of City Council a party to extortion and blackmail.  

I ask that you not pass Resolution No. 63-13. It simply moves the City closer to surrendering its autonomy as well as its prospects for a successful future.     

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apparently North Canton City Council Places Loyalty to Its Members Above Service to City Residents

Prepared Comments Made to
September 16, 2013 

            Tonight I would like to address the poor attendance record of some members of North Canton City Council and make recommendations for legislation that will help to make Council attendance at public meetings more transparent and economically fair for taxpayers.  

            I have spoken privately to Council President Snyder on this subject on numerous occasions and recently to Mr. Peters, Chairman of Council’s Personnel & Safety Committee. 

            I will preface my remarks by stating that in my two-year term on City Council I do not recall any absences of the seven members of Council during the entire two-year term that was December 1, 2001, through November 30, 2003. Mr. Snyder has told me that is his recollection as well. 

            Sadly, that is not the case today with the members of the current City Council. 

Almost weekly there are at least one and sometimes two council members absent. On February 11, 2013, voting on legislation, scheduled for passage as “an emergency,” was delayed for an hour until a sixth member of Council arrived to garner the required minimum votes for passage. Apparently the declaration that legislation was needed as an emergency meant little for this late arriving member of Council. 

This situation was repeated at another Council meeting April 15, 2013, when only five of seven Council members were present to vote on “emergency legislation,” scheduled for passage at a Special Council meeting.  

More often than not, each week a vote is taken to excuse a Council member, sometimes two Council members, from scheduled meetings that require their attendance. Apparently North Canton City Council places loyalty to its members above service to City residents as members of Council are routinely excused. And whether a Council member is absent or not from a publicly scheduled meeting all members are paid just the same. 

How many of us in the real world get paid for not showing up for work? Rhetorical questions, as we all know that “no work means no pay” and that if one is habitually late or absent from work one will find him/her- self no longer employed. 

Two years ago, I began tracking the attendance of council members and this is what I have discovered: 

            Mr. Snyder, I would say you would qualify for a “gold star” as by my calculations you have missed or been tardy for only three of 127 publicly scheduled Council meetings which equates to 98% attendance. 

            Mr. Peters ranks second, missing or being tardy for eight out of 127 meetings, equating to 94% attendance. 

            Mr. Foltz ranks third, missing or being tardy for 9 out of 127 meetings, equating to 93% attendance. 

Mrs. Werren ranks fourth as she has missed or been tardy 6 out of the 65 meetings since her appointment in mid-term which equates to 91% attendance. 

Mr. Cerreta and Mr. Griffith tie for fifth as each has missed 13 out of 127 meetings which equates to 90% attendance. 

Mrs. Kiesling ranks at the bottom as she has missed or been tardy for 35 of 127 publicly scheduled Council meetings, equating to a 72% attendance rating. 

I guess I am getting old as I harken back to an earlier time period and remember when people had a different work ethic. We all remember an aging relative who would tell us how things used to work.
I would urge at this time that Council put in place legislation that requires the Clerk of Council to keep attendance of Council members at all publicly scheduled meetings. Further, I would ask that members of Council not be paid for meetings which they do not attend. 

I would also like to say that continuing to approve of non-attendance of Council members at publicly scheduled Council meetings could make Council party to what could be termed theft in office as the taxpayers are paying for services that are not being rendered as an ongoing matter of business. 

Mr. Snyder, I would like to thank you for a fine attendance record. For the rest of Council, you made a commitment to your constituents to represent them. Showing up four evenings a month for City Council meetings is what you promised your constituents and it the very least that the public expects from you.  

Members of North Canton City Council should show in every way that their loyalty is to City residents, first and foremost.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Salary Increases for City Leaders Ignores North Canton’s Fiscal Day of Reckoning

Prepared Comments Made to
June 24, 2013 

            On January 23, 2013, the Repository ran a story titled, “North Canton grappling with shrinking revenues.”  

The story begins with, “Due to slackening tax collection, drastic cuts in state aid and the state’s repeal of the estate tax, the city’s day of reckoning is fast approaching.” 

The story continues with: “City Council is considering fee increases, cuts in services and possibly layoffs of some city employees as the city faces years of growing deficits….Finance Director Karen Alger presented Tuesday a proposed 2013 budget to City Council which shows the city’s estimated spending exceeds revenue by $3.6 million. Of that shortfall, $1.4 million is the deficit for the general fund budget. By next year, assuming the state doesn’t further cut aid, the city has to find a way to raise revenue and cut spending by about $1 million and by significantly more money in later years.” 

How does Ordinance No. 47-13, on tonight’s agenda, an ordinance to increase the salaries of all eight part-time elected officials of the City reconcile with financial realities facing the citizens of North Canton? 

Is this Council trying to rush ever so more quickly to that day of reckoning? 

Possible layoffs of City employees became a reality as seen in a March 13, 2013, Repository story titled, “North Canton lays off fire inspector.” 

In the March story, “Mayor Held cited the city’s financial challenges as the reason for the layoff.”
Can anyone on this Council body recognize the gravity of North Canton’s financial plight or does personal gain come ahead of fiduciary responsibilities?  

I must say that I was very much amused at last Monday evening’s Council of the Whole meeting when Law Director Fox presented his best argument to support an increase in salaries. The argument was the fact that I, as a member of City Council in 2002, over eleven years ago, had urged a greater salary increase than what was proposed at that time.  

Is this body now agreeing that my reasoning for voting NO on the 2002 salary increase was in fact correct? And why is our newly appointed full-time Law Director presenting an argument on behalf of City Council for a salary increase? This is not the roll for a City Law Director in any municipality under any circumstances.  

If anyone wants to revisit the discussion in 2002 for a salary increase for the City’s part-time elected officials, let me refresh your memory. In 2002, the City had over $18.0 million in reserves, was in an extremely sound financial position and future prospects were good, so good that everyone on City Council, except me, voted to spend $4.2 million the very next year for Arrowhead Golf Course in 2003. 

As each of you should be very aware, the loss of the Hoover Company along with more recent revenue losses described above continue to take a toll on city finances. Reserves are a distant memory and probably will never materialize again. 

I do not think it is a coincidence that the proposed salary increase being requested for part-time elected officials is coming at the same time that the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) is increasing the required minimum monthly salary to $600 per month to continue to qualify for full-service credit for retirement. 

Drawing a pension for serving as a council member is an added cost to city taxpayers and probably is a total unknown to most city residents. The proposed salary increases totaling $20,100 will also result in an increase in annual pension costs borne by the taxpayers of $2,814. 

Given North Canton’s strained financial condition and dismal financial prospects into the future, I would urge this council to forgo a salary increase. Hopefully you will do your fiduciary duty and not increase the financial strain on the city and its taxpayers. 

In the alternative I would suggest that legislation be drawn up to keep a public record of attendance of council members at council meetings and furthermore limit payment for meetings not attended to two meetings per year. Absences by members at City Council meetings have mushroomed out of control and the public needs a mechanism to track attendance by their elected officials.  

The statement in the Repository story of January 23 lays out a roadmap for North Canton. “…the city has to find a way to raise revenue and cut spending by about $1 million and by significantly more money in later years.” 

Raising salaries of part-time elected officials so they can continue to qualify for retirement credit under the Ohio Personnel Retirement System is not going to put the city on a fiscally responsible path.

Remember, it is all about serving your community. Vote NO on Ordinance No. 47-13.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton

Monday, April 22, 2013

Protection of Well Fields Should Be North Canton’s Priority Not Expanded Parking with Limited Funds

Prepared Comments Made to
April 22, 2013 

            North Canton’s ongoing push to put in additional parking spaces at the East Maple Street Ball Fields seems to defy logic as everyone seems to forget that the property is the site of a city aquifer first and foremost. 

            The aquifer is a raw water source for the citizens of North Canton as well as water customers outside the city.  The ball fields and surrounding area are designated as a Source Water Area Protection area. In a designated SWAP area the Ohio EPA suggests protective strategies to minimize risks in these areas. 

The Ohio EPA considers parking lots a potential source of contamination. If a SWAP area already has a parking lot, the EPA has recommended strategies in its SWAP assessment reports to deal with these potential sources of contamination. The EPA does not endorse expanding any existing source of contamination such as a parking lot that lies within a SWAP area.  

One would surely think that with the experience the City of North Canton went through in 2001 with the East Maple Street well field that protection of our sources of drinking water would be the top priority.  

On Wednesday, June 13, 2001, the City of North Canton was featured on the front page of the Repository with headlines proclaiming, “North Canton well field is contaminated.” 

On Thursday the 14, North Canton again made headlines with, “Water danger zone expands.”

On Friday the 15, more disturbing headlines concerning North Canton’s East Maple Street well field proclaimed, “Well field ruined ‘forever.’”  

The City of North Canton continued to make headlines in the Repository for another five days. Citizens in North Canton and surrounding townships were in a panic. North Canton’s mayor announced his resignation as all of this unfolded.  

One would think that a community that had experienced such a calamity would now want to take extra precautions to protect its water sources from contamination. 

The East Maple Street Ball Fields already have parking to accommodate 227 vehicles. There is no reason to increase the level of risk to the City’s aquifer with additional parking. In the last week I forwarded to the Clerk of Council an email that I received from the Ohio EPA entitled, “SWAP protective strategies for parking areas.” 

This email clearly defines parking lots as a potential source of contamination. After the near disaster that took place in June 2001, why would you not exercise the utmost diligence to minimize any and all risks to the City’s well field? 

I would also like to add that it makes absolutely no sense to spend $50,000 of the $150,000 bequest to expand the ball field parking lot when it is known that the liner at the Dogwood Pool needs to be replaced at a cost of $300,000 or more. 

Given that the city is struggling financially, the bequeath is a godsend for the city and would cover half the cost to reline the Dogwood Pool.
Why would a community projecting budget deficits spend public money on a parking lot rejected by its’ Planning Commission when there is a need for several hundreds of thousands of dollars for major maintenance to Dogwood Park pool? 

The vacant lots purchased by the city to provide a buffer for the well field against development should not be developed for parking. Doing so undermines the reasoning for purchasing the lots and undermines the credibility of the individuals who gave that reasoning for purchasing the lots.
I ask that this council show its residents that the City of North Canton has learned from the past and that everything possible will be done to minimize and or eliminate risk of contamination to its sources of drinking water.  There is absolutely no reason to increase the risks of contamination to drinking water sources beyond what exists with the present level of parking. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton
Handout to City Council follows.
JUNE, 2001 
FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2001
SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2001
TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2001

Monday, April 08, 2013

Mayor Held Provides Millions of Dollars for Developers but Only Lip Service to North Canton YMCA

Prepared Comments Made to


April 8, 2013 

            The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a story on January 28, 2008, titled, “Developer Stuart Lichter closes purchase of Hoover property.” The first paragraph of the news article states, “California developer Stuart Lichter swept up the vacant Hoover Co. campus at a bargain price Monday – paying $5 million for a property that, when occupied, might have fetched four times that. And the value’s likely to rise. Lichter and his business partners plan to turn the aging 1.4 million-square-foot property into a complex of homes, offices, manufacturers, neighborhood shops and restaurants and - possibly – a small hotel.” 

            Stuart Lichter laid out this vision of redevelopment for the Hoover property, and for a community such as ours that lost its identity and thousands of jobs, it certainly sounded like all of our prayers had been answered.  

In spite of the fact that Mr. Lichter is a multi-millionaire who surely has the resources to make his vision for the Hoover property a reality, he has asked our struggling community and the State of Ohio for millions of dollars in financial assistance.  

A recap of that financial assistance includes $440,000 for gantry cranes to bring Meyers Controlled Power from Massillon to North Canton and approximately $65,000 made available to outfit and relocate space for Stark State to the Hoover District. 

            Totaling $505,000, this is money that came directly from city coffers to Mr. Lichter and local partners, Chris Semarjian and Bob DeHoff, collectively known as Maple Street Commerce. 

            In 2009, the City of North Canton secured a $5.0 million grant from the State of Ohio. Three million dollars of the grant was to be made available to Maple Street Commerce to allow for the conversion of industrial space to office space for the Shroer Group. The remaining $2.0 million was to be spent on city streets and utilities in the surrounding Hoover District. 

            Two weeks ago I learned that the Held Administration had applied to the State of Ohio to divert half of the remaining grant funds away from the planned expenditures for city streets and utilities and provide an additional $1.0 million to the developer. In discussions with three city council members that night, I learned that none of them had any knowledge of the actions of the administration to divert additional grant funds. At last week’s council meeting it was clear that city council had been left totally in the dark as to the Held administration’s efforts to reallocate grant funds.  

            A records request has revealed that the Held administration had asked state officials in a letter dated September 26, 2012, to reallocate the balance of the grant funds. On October 25, 2012, Mayor Held executed an amendment to the Grant Agreement which was finalized in a November 6, 2012, letter from the Ohio Development Services Agency to Development Director Bowles.  

            Mayor Held, when City Council authorized Economic Development Director Eric Bowles to fill the role of Project Manager in Ordinance No. 56-09 on June 22, 2009, I do not believe that they expected to be left uniformed as to the expenditure of those funds. Why the secrecy, Mayor? 

            Was it your idea of an April Fool’s joke at to reveal at last week’s council meeting, what you have known for five months, that your Economic Development Director had applied to State officials and been approved to reallocate grant funds that council thought were going to be used for city streets and utility work? 

And further, to tell this council that these remaining funds must be spent by the end of September of this year, a mere five months away?  

Mayor Held, your actions to withhold information regarding your efforts to reallocate distribution of the grant funds and then revealing at the eleventh hour to council that the funds must be spent with undue haste are entirely underhanded and raise alarm for me and I suspect others.   

Why have you not kept city council informed? Why have you let the clock nearly run out to tell city council that the remaining grant funds must be spent in the next five months? 

The actions of the Held Administration bring about urgency on another issue that I have been raising privately ever since the Hoover property was purchased by Stuart Lichter.  

The urgency is that the North Canton YMCA needs more room for future growth and further financial assistance to the developers of the Hoover District should be contingent on cooperation on this issue.  

The YMCA needs the two parking lots that front on East Maple Street and lie east and west of McKinley Avenue. Furthermore, if the remaining portions of McKinley Avenue that dead end at East Maple are vacated, the value of these two parking lots to the YMCA will be greatly enhanced. 

Mayor Held, I am asking that you provide no further financial assistance to Stuart Lichter and Maple Street Commerce, including the reallocated $1.0 million in grant funds yet to be spent, until Stuart Lichter and Maple Street Commerce deeds over both parking lots in their entirety to the YMCA. 

The City of North Canton has already provided the developers $3,505,000 in financial assistance. This is far more than the value of the two parking lots. The additional $1.0 million that you now propose to divert to the developers will raise the level of public monies given to Stuart Lichter to nearly equal the purchase price Mr. Lichter paid for the entire 78 acre Hoover property.  

Mayor, the recent ceremony in city council chambers in February when you proclaimed February 19, 2013, as North Canton YMCA Day in honor of the Y’s 90th anniversary isn’t worth the paper it is printed on if you don’t take meaningful action to ensure its future growth.  

The North Canton YMCA needs more than “lip service” to be successful for another ninety years. This added acreage is very critical to the future success of the North Canton YMCA. 

City Council, I ask that you take action to block any further distribution of grant funds should Mayor Held not have the wherewithal to do what is best for the North Canton YMCA and the citizens he has sworn to serve.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton




Monday, February 11, 2013

Further Development at Little League Ball Fields Threatens City Well Field, Destroys Greenspace and Continues the Exclusion of Residents From Public Park Gifted to City!

Prepared Comments Made to
February 11, 2013           

            Last week many people spoke pro and con before this body regarding the addition of lighting at the North Canton Little League Ball Fields. Obvious for most who heard the remarks, the concern is the intrusion that the lights bring to the surrounding neighborhoods along with traffic and parking issues and the noise from crowds and loud speakers that are already disruptive in daylight hours, a disruption that may now extend into the evening and nighttime hours.  

Beyond the obvious intrusions, I think everyone is forgetting the larger picture and that is the fact that the North Canton Little League Ball Field is the site of a City well field. 

The designation of the area as a public park is supposed to prevent development and protect the aquifer below. That is not being considered now, nor has it been considered in the past as many structures have been built on the property by the North Canton Little League during the term of the present lease.  

Protection of the City’s well field should be paramount and development limited as the addition of infrastructures on the property further complicates security of the well field and the underlying aquifer.  

In addition, the property was gifted to North Canton by the Hoover Company to be used as a “Public Park.” Park land brings with it the presumption that it will be maintained as Greenspace to be enjoyed by all of its citizens, not developed with buildings and parking lots with large numbers of people converging and trampling nature with lights ablaze into the nighttime. 

I also have concerns that nineteen acres of public park land have been handed over to a select few for their exclusive use and I am talking about the lease of the property to the group known as the North Canton Little League, most of whom are nonresidents of North Canton.  

The Hoover Company gave the citizens of North Canton this acreage and the terms of the gift state that the property be used exclusively for a “Public Park.”  

There is nothing in the terms of the Hoover gift that says the property can be handed over to a select few to use as they see fit, no matter what their intentions are. 

North Canton residents are being denied the peaceful use of a public park and are losing the Greenspace that the park was intended to provide. 

The exclusion of a great majority of North Canton residents from the entirety of the nineteen acres of property gifted to the city bothers me greatly. My distress over the lease arrangement with the North Canton Little League Board of Directors is heightened by the fact that I have learned that North Canton children are being barred from participating in or using the ball fields for lack of financial resources. 

I have received word from a parent of four children that her kids were not allowed to play at the Little League Ball Fields as they were unable to pay the registration fees demanded by the Little League Board. The parent asked to make payments and was turned down by the President of the Board of Directors. 

How many other children have been denied playing time at the ball field for financial reasons? And to add insult to the hurt for this parent, the parent says at the same time other children were offered scholarships so they could play without payment of registration fees. 

This particular mother is a taxpayer in the city, owns her own home, and her four children attend North Canton City Schools. This individual tells me that she is familiar with numerous parents who can’t afford to play any longer at the North Canton Little League Fields and have chosen other sports options outside the City of North Canton for their children. 

This is supposed to be a “Public Park” but that is not the way it is being run.  

I drive past the North Canton Little League Ball Field without any thought as to what is happening there. The sign at the entrance is titled “Hoover Community Recreation Complex.” 

I have learned that the only recreation going on there is recreation approved by the North Canton Little League Board of Directors, to the exclusion of most North Canton residents including North Canton children whose parents cannot afford the required registration fee to play.  

The request to add lights to the North Canton Little League Ball Fields should be denied for many reasons. I have given you many of those reasons. The opponents who spoke before this body last Monday night gave you many more. 

I ask that you call three strikes on this issue and end the game on the lighting request.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne

Monday, February 04, 2013

North Canton Neighborhoods Are Under Attack in Many Ways!

Prepared Comments Made to


February 4, 2013 

Neighborhoods in North Canton are under assault. Throughout the city, neighborhoods are dealing with foreclosures and rentals. In my neighborhood, my wife and I have seen the attack on the serenity of our neighborhood escalate. Early last year, an arsonist torched a rental property and due to the close proximity of house next door, two homes were destroyed. 
In the last few months, another rental property, three doors down from my home, was discovered to be a “Meth House.” 
Foreclosures that linger in our neighborhoods, single-family homes that are turned into rentals and multiply up and down streets destroy neighborhoods and drive families out of their homes. This is how communities lose good solid law-abiding citizens. 
But it is not just the activities that I have described that drive away the solid citizens who live in our neighborhoods. There are other more subtle causes. 
The proposed expansion of the activities conducted by the North Canton Little League is an intrusion on the peace and serenity of a neighborhood that can start the decline of a neighborhood.  
In the past, this council has been well aware of the need to maintain peace and tranquility for homeowners.  
Ten years ago, in order to maintain neighborhoods surrounding Arrowhead Golf Course, City Council saw the need to spend $4.2 million and purchased Arrowhead Golf Course to insure peace and tranquility of the surrounding neighborhoods. 
A few years later, City Council acted to ensure that Briar and Weber Streets remained as dead-end streets and were not opened up when the Sanctuary subdivision was developed. There have been other streets that have remained dead ends. The residents of Grassmere Street did not want their street opened up into Monticello. A street in Surrey Hill subdivision was kept a dead end to maintain peace and tranquility at the request of residents. 
In each instance, City Council heard the concerns of the residents and acted to protect homeowners from unwanted intrusions in to their neighborhood. 
Why is it now that residents surrounding the East Maple Street Little League Ball Fields are not given the same protections that have been afforded many other North Canton neighborhoods?  
            The fact of the matter is that the neighborhoods surrounding the North Canton Little League Ball Fields have received little support from the Administration or City Council in their effort to maintain the serenity of their homes and yards.  
Parking issues in violation of the current lease have been flagrant for years. I myself have driven down East Maple Street and phoned in blatant parking violations when games are played. I do not live adjacent to the ball fields but I have heard from many residents regarding the intrusive use of loudspeakers during little league games. 
All of these intrusions destroy the peaceful atmosphere nearby residents should be able to enjoy. It does not take many intrusions such as this to push residents out of their homes and out of North Canton.  
The activities conducted by the North Canton Little League have exceeded the intent and purpose of the gift made to the City of North Canton.  
It is a little league ball field intended for North Canton Little Leaguers. It was never envisioned to be Candlestick Park.  
The property is also on the site of a well field that deserves protection from activities that could harm the underlying aquifer. 
How can the security of the well field be maintained when numerous structures are built, light poles implanted, and additional parking installed to accommodate hundreds of automobiles? 
What about the Greenspace that is being obliterated in the process? 
I have a problem with the fact that 19 acres of public property have been given to a select group of individuals for their exclusive use.  
Under the terms of the quit-claim deed gifting the property from the Hoover Company to the City of North Canton, the property was to be used “…exclusively for a public park and/or any other public use consistent herewith….” 
Leasing the entire 19 acres to individuals at the exclusion of North Canton residents seemingly violates the terms of that gift from the Hoover Company.  
How many little leaguers who play at the ball field are actual residents of North Canton? 
I urge this council to deny any further expansion of activities at the North Canton Little League Ball Field and further urge that the Administration enforce all the terms of the current lease. 
Lastly, I would like to commend the principals of the North Canton Little League for their efforts in providing organized sports for our youngsters but it cannot come at the expense of the peace and serenity of the residents and neighborhoods of North Canton.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
Resident, City of North Canton