After having worked as a professional land planner in the city administration for many years, I am aware of the importance of a transparent “process” for the general functioning of the city administration.
The “process” includes the daily decision-making of city employees and the setting of guidelines by the city council. As far as possible, residents must be given the opportunity to contribute to this process. A typical example is intended to illustrate the importance of involving citizens in city administration.
Since the end of September last year, my North 40th street has been the focus of the 40th / Tamarack Transmission Line Project, a major infrastructure “upgrade” to extend a large-diameter aqueduct to the west of Newark. The project also includes the installation of a large diameter storm canal and sidewalks on both sides of the street. I first found out about the project from my neighbor, who only found out about it from an appraiser who is looking at her old trees for removal as part of the project. My “official” notice came in the form of a door hanger that was delivered on September 28th, announcing that the project would begin within a few days.
Until September 28, I received no communication from the city about this major supply project. Every tree within the public right of way, some well over 100 years old, has been removed. Before and after, street scenes show a stark and eye-catching scene.
City projects happen this way for a reason. Anyone attending or viewing a board meeting or committee meeting in Newark will be impressed with the speed with which action is taken, the amount of discussion, the importance of discussion, what decisions need to be made and which ones Projects end up being executed well. Details are important. The neighbors I spoke to on my street had no idea the project was coming. Why weren’t they notified? Ward 3 is an entrance to Newark and will therefore see major infrastructure improvements. Public exposure and engagement are essential.
The city of Newark has great potential as a development community in central Ohio. There is already a significant surge in property values due to a lack of residential property and the desirability of being located near Columbus and adjacent communities. But there are also problems that justify a transparent and participatory process that involves citizens in formulating solid city-wide policies.
If elected, I commit to advocating a visible and accountable decision-making process that recognizes and values a variety of issues and makes service to residents a first priority.
David A. Lipstreu is a Democrat running for the seat of Ward 3 City Council in Newark this fall.