Contribution sought: BG has an online form to comment on funding | News

The City of Bowling Green is seeking citizen input on how remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds should be spent.

Feedback is collected via an online questionnaire accessible on the city’s website.

“I see this as a really active way to kick off council’s community discussions around this issue,” Mayor Mike Aspacher said during Monday’s council meeting.

The Board heard a presentation on the efforts of Sustainability and Public Awareness Coordinator, Amanda Gamby, and Community Affairs Coordinator, Hallie Williams.

According to information distributed at the meeting, a total of $7.3 million has been allocated to the city through ARPA. The city has so far approved investments from this funding totaling $4 million, including:

• $3 million for residential paving

• $350,000 for MARCS communications equipment to improve public safety communications

• $250,000 for a paving project at the municipal park, which will include road widening, a walking path and security upgrades such as cameras and lighting

• $100,000 in inclusive playground support for the Wood County Plays project in Carter Park

• $300,000 over three years for housing subsidies.

“We’re really doing our best,” Gamby said, “to make sure residents know very well what we’ve already allocated some of that money to.”

The city is seeking community feedback to guide the use of the remaining funds, which could be spent over the next three years.

The 10-question questionnaire allows residents to rank the importance of four categories of potential investments: Downtown Improvements, Parks and Recreation, Community Development, and Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Infrastructure (complete streets). Each category also includes a list of several projects, with residents being asked to choose the ones they would most like to see funded. There is also a final section where residents can write additional ideas.

The first page of the survey states that “the projects included in the questionnaire were discussed at public meetings as possible considerations for funding and may be linked to planning documents, including the 2018 Community Action Plan and BG’s community goals”.

Residents who do not have access to a computer can submit their responses to the Community Development Office in the City’s Administrative Services Building or to the Wood County District Public Library, where the questionnaire can be viewed at designated kiosks. . Responses can be submitted until March 11, and the results will be compiled and shared in a final report.

“We want to do whatever we can to help and make sure we’re making good, informed decisions,” Williams said.

Council Chairman Mark Hollenbaugh thanked Gamby and Williams for their months of work on the project.

“I can’t wait to see the results,” he said.

In other business, council also heard praise for the work of city staff during the recent weather event that dumped inches of snow on the area.

Aspacher noted the efforts of the public works division.

“As usual, they responded as we have become accustomed to them. They worked around the clock “in 12-hour shifts,” he said.

Aspacher also noted what he called an exceptional effort by the Bowling Green Police Division.

“We issued a snow emergency more proactively than normal, requiring residents to remove vehicles from designated snow-covered streets” within two hours of the emergency being declared, Aspacher said.

He noted that “the police division identified some cars that had not been moved within the required time frame and worked proactively to identify the owners of these cars and contact them personally, and coordinate them to move the cars, which I think was really helpful” in getting moved around and preventing vehicles from being towed. He cited it as another example of “our police division rising to the occasion”.

City Administrator Lori Tretter noted that thanks to these efforts, they didn’t have to ticket or tow people during the snow emergency.

“It was a tough storm for us to weather,” she said. “Everyone needs to be here and be ready to respond and help our citizens when needed. So we really appreciate them and congratulate them.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Hear Director of Public Infrastructure, Brian O’Connell, introduce Jim Odneal, the city’s new Assistant Director of Public Services.

• Had a brief discussion about the potential for a quadricycle – also called pedal bike – business in the city.

At the January 18 meeting, Joe Steinmetz of Tiffin told the council that he was interested in bringing such a company to town. He said the vehicles could accommodate 14 passengers and a driver in a journey of about two hours, making stops at businesses and restaurants. Steinmetz said he was involved in operating one such business in Tiffin.

Tretter said Monday that she provided information to the board about the vehicles after that meeting. Councilman Jeff Dennis said he spoke to Steinmetz, who requested that the business hours be extended from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Council Chairman Mark Hollenbaugh asked City Attorney Mike Marsh to put the case in legislative form to forward to the council’s Transportation and Safety Committee for a hearing.

• Heard from members of a new organization, BGO Pride, which seeks to help and reach out to the LGBTQ community.

• Excused Councilor Joel Odorisio’s absence from the meeting.