Two hot-button issues drew residents to the Thursday, March 27, Marysville City Council meeting.
Several residents attended and spoke -- an unusual occurrence at the bi-monthly meetings.
Donald Boerger addressed the proposal for the city to buy property at 222 S. Main St.
The site now houses the offices of Marysville Grace Church, but city officials have proposed paying $190,000 to owners Richard and Anita Bailey and taking possession of the property June 1. The plan is to demolish the house and garage on the site and build a parking lot to draw more people to the new Partners Park and increase foot traffic uptown.
City Council heard the second reading of a resolution to buy the parcel at last week's meeting.
Boerger said he is concerned the city is creating dead zones with parking lots, and suggested the city should keep the home because of its historical value.
"I want to give our historical structures a voice," Boerger said. "Can any community risk its historical integrity and jeopardize the very reason people visit our downtown neighborhoods?"
Mayor John Gore assured Boerger he had contacted the Union County Historical Society to find out if the property is classified as a historical home and it is not.
According to the Union County Auditor's Office, the house was built in 1940.
"It's pretty old. It's been around for a long time. We acknowledge that. My vision is, as the community grows, that it be a parking lot today but somewhere in the future hopefully there will be a need to expand the park and that will be land we already own," Gore said.
Boerger said city officials should consider an advanced parking plan, including adding parking meters uptown with two-hour limits, slowing down traffic by lengthening crosswalk timing and creating one-way traffic on certain streets to allow parallel parking. He also suggested a way to fund such improvements.
"Ticket those who are parked in spots longer than two hours, implement a special improvement district, put the money aside each year to finance these projects, or we could also raise the hotel tax," Boerger said.
The third and final reading of the resolution to purchase the Main Street property is scheduled April 10.
Two residents spoke about a plan to bring fishing and recreational boating to the reservoir on Raymond Road.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources approached the city last summer about applying for grant money to stock the reservoir and add a dock, parking lot, bathrooms and boat ramps to make it a recreational area. The reservoir was built in 2008 and has a capacity of 1.39 billion gallons.
One stipulation of the grant is that motorized boating must be allowed, though the city can limit motors to 10 horsepower.
The issue has stirred debate because the city has used the reservoir as a source of drinking water since fall 2009.
Marysville resident Kirk Decker told council he was concerned about safety.
"If I asked you how much oil and gas is OK to dump down the sewer drain, what would you tell me? This is about my family and my home," he said. "The compromise seems to be one-sided. It's this or nothing. This is our drinking supply. I just really have some concerns."
Gore told Decker the city could decide to prohibit motorized boating, but it would lose up to $250,000 in grant money. Gore said he does not want to go to taxpayers for those funds.
Council President Nevin Taylor said the drinking water is drawn from the reservoir at a 20-foot depth and that oil and gas only go down about four inches.
"I was just as concerned as you at first but I did some homework," Taylor said.
Resident Judy Ormeroid said she supports the plan and it is a great opportunity for the city.
"I'm whole-heartedly in favor of allowing gasoline motors of 10 horsepower or less. There won't be jet skis or water skiing because the motors aren't big enough," Ormeroid said. "I think as for the issue with drinking water, we treat all the water anyway."
The cost to turn the reservoir into a recreational area is estimated at $400,000 to $500,000.
The resolution will have a third and final reading at the April 10 council meeting. If it is approved, the city would submit an application for the grant this spring.