Clintonville Area Commission members were poised at last week's meeting to become interim sponsors of a median to be built on North High Street in the area where the Clintonville Farmers Market is held.
But they quickly got in the weeds, figuratively and literally, over language contained in a boilerplate agreement city officials created for median sponsors that listed maintenance and upkeep requirements some commission members felt would be burdensome.
Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt kicked off the protracted discussion May 4, saying the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum initially was to have been the sponsor for both the planned North High Street median between Dunedin Road and West Orchard Lane, and another set for Indianola Avenue between Milford and Melrose avenues. But Wetherholt said arboretum officials backed out over concerns regarding liability.
She added Eric Brembeck, owner of Studio 35 Cinema and Drafthouse, said he was willing to take on sponsorship of the Indianola Avenue median -- which would be built directly in front of his business -- but that left the North High Street one in need of support.
While city officials would construct the medians -- using Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund cash -- and install plants, including two trees in each, sponsors would be responsible for replacing any plants that die, weeding beds, watering and mulching on an annual basis, Wetherholt said.
She proposed the CAC temporarily take on that role for the High Street median.
"I believe it would be a very nice addition to the area where the farmers market is and have a calming effect on traffic," Wetherholt added.
However, Mike McLaughlin, former commission member, is working to create a Friends of the Median group to take over the duties.
During discussion at the May 4 meeting, CAC members looked more closely at the wording in the agreement document, with Christopher Allwein of District 8 noting sponsors are expected immediately to remove debris resulting from an "act of nature, etc."
"I'm bothered by that because I believe that is potentially burdensome," he said. "Is there an ability to negotiate a couple of these terms? Because I would like to. I think they should change a couple of things in here."
District 4 representative Judy Minister agreed, noting trees require almost daily water when first planted.
Mary Rodgers, president of the Clintonville Historical Society, also agreed with Allwein, but in much stronger terms.
"I think this whole sponsorship thing is ridiculous," she said. "If the city is building an improvement, they should maintain it. I mean, it's almost like they don't want to build the median and they're building a roadblock.
"Don't make it a burden on this community."
"I think we have some questions for the city attorney before we're comfortable," District 7's Jason Meek said.
Nancy Kuhel of District 2 urged residents to contact Columbus City Council members regarding the details of median sponsorship.
Wetherholt asked members of the commission to forward their concerns about the agreement to her, and she would in turn have planning and development committee Chairman Andrew Overbeck raise the matter with city officials.