Six months after an initiative was launched to collect signatures on petitions to remove more than half of Upper Arlington City Council's sitting members from office, it's not yet clear when or if a recall will be formalized.

Six months after an initiative was launched to collect signatures on petitions to remove more than half of Upper Arlington City Council's sitting members from office, it's not yet clear when or if a recall will be formalized.

Late last August, a group of roughly three dozen Upper Arlington residents decided to pursue a recall because they were unhappy about the direction of a major park redevelopment and a campaign for an income-tax increase they said was deceptive.

The number of targeted officials dropped from five to four after former council President Don Leach lost a re-election bid in November.

As of last week, the group Save Northam Park continued to collect residents' signatures on recall petitions, said member Stephen Buser.

Although the group said in January it had enough signatures to force recall elections for John C. Adams, David DeCapua, Kip Greenhill and Debbie Johnson, Buser said it is continuing its petition drive to ensure the elections could go forward even if some signatures are declared invalid.

He added, however, that Save Northam Park had yet to identify a deadline for filing its petitions with the Franklin County Board of Elections.

"We're continuing to collect because we need a cushion," Buser said. "We're well over the required amount, and we're continuing to watch individual council members.

"The city is in Phase II of the Northam Park project. We're in Phase II of our recall effort, and that consists of building a margin of error on the number of signatures."

Actions being'monitored'

Buser added that Phase II of the recall initiative also will determine if the group might pursue recalls of all four council members it previously identified, or if that plan might be scaled back to spare members who "seem to be responding reasonably to (residents') concerns."

"We continue to monitor the council members," he said. "It's not necessarily an all-or-nothing."

At the time Save Northam Park began its petition drive, the five council members it identified for recalls -- in addition to Erik Yassenoff, who wasn't part of the recall effort because he was slated to leave council at the end of 2015 due to term limits -- had voted to proceed with a $14 million redevelopment of Northam Park.

That plan included a number of proposals opposed by Save Northam Park, including the reconfiguration of the park's athletic fields and the potential removal or relocation of 12 clay tennis courts.

In January, council committed to not moving forward with any changes to Northam Park, except for the reconstruction of Tremont Pool and the playground. Those projects are expected to cost about $7 million, officials have said.

The city currently is in the process of tabulating public input it has collected for the pool and playground designs; the work for those projects has yet to be authorized.

Stepping backfrom plans

Johnson, who is now president of council, said those moves were made to address some concerns raised by Save Northam Park, and to get a sense of the broader community's wishes for the park.

"I think we've done a lot," Johnson said. "We've stepped back.

"We're going to Phase II. I think we've certainly tried to engage the whole community."

While Save Northam Park members were encouraged by council's decision to slow down the redevelopment and take public input, Buser said concerns remain.

He and other members have noted that city leaders haven't actually committed to reducing the cost or scope of the project because a "comprehensive review" planned for Upper Arlington's entire public-park system could yield more changes and more expenses.

Additionally, Save Northam Park maintains city leaders haven't adequately explained why campaign literature for Issue 23, which passed in November 2014 and raised the city's income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent, stated that 100 percent of new revenues from the tax would go to repair and maintain roads, curbs, and water and sewer lines and made no mention of being used for parks projects.

"We still have some concerns," Buser said. "(Issue 23) is why there's no trust. That is why we no longer know when we can trust them.

"We have not changed our plan yet. Hopefully, things will work out, but if they don't, we want to be prepared."

Public discussionbefore decisions

While Save Northam Park contemplates its next move, Johnson said more public discussion of the pool and playground rebuilds will take place before decisions are made.

She added that council would continue to proceed with its work on behalf of residents.

"It is certainly their constitutional right to recall," Johnson said.

"We're elected to represent the 34,000 residents.

"We have a job to do and we're going to do our job. We also can't be threatened or bullied by that, and we have to keep in mind what is best for our community."

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