Members of a citizens group who announced this week they would seek to recall five of Upper Arlington City Council's seven members said their actions were prompted by a list of recent council decisions.

Members of a citizens group who announced this week they would seek to recall five of Upper Arlington City Council's seven members said their actions were prompted by a list of recent council decisions.

Resident Dan Mc-Cormick said more than 30 people attended an impromptu meeting of concerned citizens on Aug. 29 and decided to pursue recall elections to remove Upper Arlington City Council members John C. Adams, David DeCapua, Kip Greenhill, Debbie Johnson and Don Leach from office.

McCormick said the recall effort is due to those council members' recent decisions related to fiscal management, their inattention to public opposition to a $14 million plan to redevelop Northam Park, potential plans to build a privately funded community recreation center neighboring the park and Tremont Elementary School and a November 2014 income-tax initiative in which, he said he and others believe, city officials misled voters.

The news came one week after council voted 6-1 in favor of moving forward with the design of the majority of components included in the proposal to revamp Northam Park.

"These five council members disregarded the citizens' overwhelming opposition expressed at the Aug. 17 meeting in the high school auditorium," McCormick said. "As recognized by council member Mike Schadek, over 70 percent of the taxpayers who spoke were against the proposed Northam plan."

Schadek, who is not included in the recall attempt, cast the only vote against moving forward with the park's design, citing opposition in the community and his belief the city wasn't taking adequate time to plan the project and obtain public input.

Councilman Erik Yassenoff voted for the plan, but he will leave office at the end of this year due to term limits and also is not included in the recall effort.

McCormick said those pursuing the recall represent a cross section of the community and local special interests. Some, he said, were disturbed that the vote to proceed with Northam Park's design came after the Aug. 5 deadline to submit issues for the Nov. 3 ballot.

That move, he said, eliminated local voters' ability to overturn the council action via a referendum.

"There were a lot of different constituencies and they had a lot of concerns," McCormick said of those who attended the Aug. 29 meeting.

He said some reiterated their beliefs that city officials misled the community in seeking an income tax increase from 2 to 2.5 percent in November 2014.

At the time, city officials said, the $3.5 million generated annually from the higher tax would go to upgrade vital infrastructure projects throughout the city.

While city officials in stories published last fall by ThisWeek Upper Arlington News said a portion of that money would be directed to upgrade city parks and parks facilities, some residents have pointed to campaign literature that mentioned projects such as streets, gutters, stormwater lines and bridges -- but did not indicate money would go to parks.

Statement from council members

Leach, council's current president, issued a joint statement Tuesday, Sept. 1, signed by each of the five members targeted for recall elections.

It said residents have a right to seek recall elections, but added that "such a process tends to be divisive and expensive."

"We all consider serving on council to be an honor and tremendous responsibility," the release stated. "We take our role seriously and each have spent countless hours working on Northam Park.

"All seven council members expressed support for its major renovation and we continue to work on addressing the major sticking point in the final design - the cost and placement of clay tennis courts, which will impact field sports usage."

The statement went on to say investing in infrastructure, including parks, is "critical to preserving our status as a leading community and securing our future." It also said the five council members are "confident in our record of achievement, responsiveness and openness.

"We cannot make everyone happy by our decisions, but we work hard to study and understand the issues, meet and interact with residents, and conscientiously act with the best interests of the community in mind."

On Monday, DeCapua offered "good luck" to the "very vocal minority" seeking the recall. He also said Monday he thought the group "was in for a rude awakening" as it gauges how much support there is in the community for recall elections.

On Tuesday, DeCapua issued a separate statement saying, "While it is disappointing to learn that a small but vocal percentage of our residents are dissatisfied, it is within any residents' right to initiate the recall process. Should the recall be successful, I have no doubt that the new appointees will arrive at the current council's same conclusions -- no doubt whatsoever."

Recall requirements

Jeff Mackey, manager of the operations section of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said Monday Upper Arlington residents would need to collect 1,989 signatures from registered Upper Arlington voters for each member of council they seek to recall.

If the signatures and ballot language are approved by the board of elections, an official subject to recall would then have five days to resign.

If the official does not resign, an election would be held within 30 to 40 days of the recall effort being approved, Mackey said.

"The election has to happen within 30 to 40 days of the petition being found valid," he said. "That would be quite a feat. We haven't had one of those around here for some time."