Bark Park moved to Highland

Tiffin Bark Park Project Advisory Board announced to City Council Monday that the Bark Park is to be moved from Hedges-Boyer Park to Highland Park.

Keith Hodkinson, president of Friends of Tiffin Bark Park, said the board had intended to create a pond in the park.

When the maintenance of the pond ended up being cost prohibitive, the board decided to build a splash pad instead. The splash pad would be concrete and include water features, but would require a sewer line.

Hodkinson said in order to put in the infrastructure for a drain, it would cost the board about $60,000.

“There was no way that we, in our good conscience, after a lot of discussion, could do that,” he said. “But we all still felt that the water feature was important.”

He said the board looked for alternatives and found a location at Highland Park. Tiffin Park and Recreation Board approved the proposal, and Hodkinson said the Bark Park is to be open May 30, 2014.

Hodkinson said the park has a restroom facility, lights and the sewer lines needed to create a water feature.

He said the first phase would include water fountains, benches, 6-foot-high fencing and a security system to get the Bark Park opened.

Phase two includes an expansion to the west, installation of the water feature and the purchase of recreational grade equipment. He also said a ball-throwing field is to be included, which can give local police departments the opportunity to use the area for K-9 unit training.

Annual membership is to cost $30 for the first dog and $10 for each additional dog. Visitors will be able to purchase day passes online. He also said all members will have to have forms signed by their veterinarians confirming dogs are up to date on shots.

Mayor Aaron Montz thanked the board for its use of private funding to benefit the community.

In other business, Montz and Councilman Tyler Shuff proposed the creation of multipurpose trails for Tiffin.

Shuff said the trails could be used for walking, jogging and bicyclists, and could be a way for students to get to school. He said the trails would also be a draw for tourists and create a healthier community. The tentative plan links the elementary and high schools, stadiums and parks to the downtown.

Montz said that the first phase of the plan would create a corridor from downtown to Hedges-Boyer Park.

“There’s a lot of benefits, since that is by far the most heavily used park that we have in the city,” he said. “The downtown is an area of renewed economic development focus.”

To create a trail through downtown and residential streets, Montz said the city would have to add striping to streets or add a separate pathway.

Montz suggested creating a master plan to create the trails in order to apply for grant funding. A state grant is available for next year, but applications are due Feb. 1.

The city would have to budget about $7,000 to revise an outdated plan.

Montz said that if the city receives the grant, the city’s contribution for the first phase would be $70,000-$80,000.

Council also discussed an ordinance regarding providing access to adjoining property for maintenance and repair work of a property.

Councilman Rich Cline was concerned about the elimination of control of a property owner over their property.

Montz said the ordinance would only help to increase property value.

The ordinance is to be read again next week.

Cline also suggested restructuring council’s committees, including the possibility of creating an Economic Development and Downtown Planning committee.

He said some committees are underutilized. He is to provide additional information to council for member consideration.

Council is to hold a public hearing regarding the Safe Routes to Schools Grant during its Dec. 16 meeting. The city has the opportunity to receive up to $500,000 to use on improving streets, sidewalks and signals around the elementary schools to make getting to school safer.

Montz’s request to reappoint several people to boards was referred to the Personnel and Labor Relations Committee.

Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart requested legislation be brought to council regarding year-end budget adjustments to cover increases and decreases in appropriations. The request was directed to the Finance Committee.

Montz also thanked Tiffin Moose Lodge No. 846 for its donation to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Montz announced that city offices are to be closed Nov. 28 and 29 for Thanksgiving.

He also announced that the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony downtown is to be at 7 p.m. Dec. 6. The Christmas Parade begins at 11 a.m. Dec. 7.

Council went into executive session to discuss union negotiations and compensation for employees. No action was taken.

In other business, council approved 7-0:

A motion allowing notices to be published regarding estimated assessments in connection with the 2013 Sidewalk Replacement Program.

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 12-73 for police department expenses.

An ordinance to revise the Tiffin Codified Ordinances by adopting replacement pages thereto, and declaring an emergency.

An ordinance amending Section 1305.16 of Tiffin Codified Ordinances to increase ambulance service rates by the Medicare 2014 Ambulance Inflation Factor, declaring an emergency and suspending the three-reading rule.