The summer has come and gone and even as we have watched Columbia Gas implement its project along City Park Avenue, we have notched tremendous success in finally getting the attention of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
You might recall that May 22, the German Village Society filed a Formal Complaint and Motion for Injunction vs. Columbia Gas of Ohio with PUCO.
We also asked for a temporary restraining order to stop the work along City Park while our complaint was considered. We asked Columbia Gas for a voluntary stop. As we have witnessed, those actions were not taken up in time to stop the project at residences in the first path of Columbia's 15-year project, which will eventually touch every address in the neighborhood.
During the first week of this month, our neighbors undertook a successful campaign to finally get PUCO's attention. Marshalling your passion through the German Village Society's leadership and communication platforms, you delivered your grassroots advocacy big time.
More than 220 of you have added your name and address to our complaint filed with the PUCO.
Dozens more emailed PUCO commissioners and wrote letters to the governor, stating not only their preservation-related concerns, but emphasizing the society's research that questions the safety of gas meters on the front of structures.
At last count, 143 pages of public comment have been submitted to the docket in support of our case.
And six brave souls have told Columbia Gas it can't move their meter out of their basement.
Now they and everyone who will now join them in refusing to allow Columbia Gas to violate our standards by relocating your meters to building exteriors are protected from having their gas service shut off. An Aug. 7 PUCO ruling blocked service shutoffs for the duration of the complaint process.
That complaint process is underway, and you can still play a defining role in our efforts. The German Village Society met Aug. 22 in a settlement conference with a PUCO attorney examiner and Columbia Gas officials. We were unable to reach a settlement that day.
Working with Columbia Gas and our legal team, we're trying to determine next steps. Unfortunately, the results of our settlement conference were too inconclusive for me to even guess whether we are on the upside or downside of negotiations with Columbia -- but we've already won the battle in two key ways.
The first is you. Each and every time you engage with each other and the German Village Society to get something done, this neighborhood wins. It is time, talent, treasure and passion that have made the society a success since 1960.
The second is preservation leadership. As one of Ohio's -- and the nation's -- oldest protected districts, it is contingent upon us to be leaders in historic preservation.
Our efforts to protect this district have garnered the attention of entities throughout the country including leading preservationist organizations and pipeline safety advocates. Younger districts watch the nationally famous German Village to see how a mature preserved district functions. We are mentors whether or not we actively ask for that role.
And the society started this fight with Columbia from a position of our expertise -- preservation. We started it in order to protect the Village.
Columbia Gas wants to put gas meters on the front facade of all of our properties, some of which date back to 1840. This is a big deal. This desecration of primary facades in one of the pre-eminent historic districts in the country is an insult to individual property owners and your personal investment.
I can't tell you yet whether we'll get a W or an L against Columbia Gas, but I would encourage you not to let up what you are doing. Resident (aka-Columbia customer) input is critically important.
Please, if you are a Columbia Gas customer, refuse gas meter relocation until the PUCO rules on our case.
Join the formal complaint.
Don't live in the district? Let the PUCO hear from you in the form of a letter or email.
Support us financially. Join the German Village Society. Already a member? Consider an increased gift.
All of the how-tos are on our website -- just click the red banner on the homepage.
German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.