Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

City Council Update for April 15

Oberlin City Council convened Monday for a regular meeting. Council President Eboni Johnson, OC ’97, presided over the meeting. All Councilmembers were present. 

Council scheduled a special meeting to discuss the Oberlin Enrichment and Activity Center and Police Exercise Equipment.

Steering Committee Established for Oberlin’s Climate Action Plan

Council voted unanimously to waive the rule for three readings and to move an ordinance creating a steering committee for the City of Oberlin’s Climate Action Plan into immediate effect. The Climate Action Plan was created in 2019 for a period of five years, and Linda Arbogast, the City of Oberlin sustainability coordinator, gave a brief presentation on progress since 2019. Now that those five years have elapsed, the plan needs to be updated. The Steering Committee will review and recommend updates for the Climate Action Plan, looking in particular at how to reach the 2030 goal of 75 percent emissions reduction, and how to include social equity goals and adaptation goals. The ordinance also approved a slate of proposed members for the Steering Committee.

Ordinance on Fee Schedule for Oberlin Underground Railroad Center

Ian Yarber, recreation superintendent of the City of Oberlin, spoke on the fee structure for how use of the Underground Railroad Center will be charged. Yarber explained that he based the fee schedule on other facilities around the area that are similarly unique. Councilmember Jessa New, OC ’01, brought up concerns about the length of time that there will be no restrooms or a kitchen, as well as the inflexibility of breaking scheduling into five-, six-, and 12-hour blocks, making the center less accessible to people and groups that might want to use it for shorter periods of time. Yarber explained that the time frames are constricted by labor and logistical restraints. Councilmembers also raised concerns about plans for cleaning the building and ways to promote the facility. Council decided not to put the ordinance into immediate effect, but approved it unanimously on first reading. Three readings are needed before an ordinance may pass.

Council Hears Presentation on Fair Housing Practices

To honor April as Fair Housing Month, Terry Richardson-Sanders, equity coordinator for the City of Oberlin, invited Tanesha Hunter, director of education and outreach at the Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research, to give a presentation on fair housing practices. The Fair Housing Center is based in Cleveland but serves all of Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties and focuses on the protection and expansion of fair housing rights, the elimination of housing discrimination, and the promotion of integrated communities. Their services include direct advocacy, complaint investigation, and research and policy. Hunter presented on the history of fair housing, beginning with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, before going on to explain the modern applications of fair housing laws. The laws apply both to housing, including houses, apartments, nursing homes, and dorm rooms; and housing-related transactions, including rent, sales, insurance, and zoning. Hunter stressed the importance of continuing to expand protections and rights in the face of ongoing discrimination, segregation, and the lasting impacts of redlining.

City Manager Authorized Additional Paid Personal Leave

The City Manager was authorized an additional 15 days of paid personal leave to deal with personal matters. Council voted unanimously to approve this motion.

Community Garden at Legion Field Given Additional 2,800 Sq. Ft. of Land

Council voted unanimously to waive the rule for three readings and to move an ordinance enlarging the Legion Field Park Community Garden into immediate effect. The community garden is managed by Fathers and Mothers Involved in Local Youth. This was the second reading for this ordinance, and the third reading was waived due to staffing issues, according to Arbogast.

 Council Approves Disposal of Chipper

City Council voted to approve a motion brought by Jeff Baumann, public works director, to dispose of a 2001 Bandit 250XP Chipper. The General Maintenance Division will trade in the 2001 chipper for a new Bandit Model 15XP chipper from KTS Equipment in Wellington. The total cost of the trade-in is $56,491.20. Approval from City Council is required for the disposal of items exceeding the value of $3,000.

City enters into Contract with Asplundh Tree Expert for Line Clearance Tree Trimming

Council voted unanimously to waive the rule for three readings and to move an ordinance into immediate effect accepting the bid of Asplundh Tree Expert, LLC. Asplundh Tree Expert will thus enter into contract with the City Manager for line clearance tree trimming. Drew Skolnicki, director of the Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System, explained that very little line clearance trimming happened last year or in 2022, leaving many trees in close contact with power lines. The contract will not exceed $335,224.19.

Oberlin to enroll in AMP-CPower Demand Response Program

City Council voted unanimously to authorize the City Manager to enroll in the AMP-CPower Demand Response Program. American Municipal Power is an Ohio-based non-profit corporation selling power and energy to members, which includes the City of Oberlin; CPower is a national leader of grid balancing and reliability solutions based in Maryland that works to protect power grids at times of high usage. This program, administered by PJM, aims to reduce load for commercial customers during peak events. Drew Skolnicki explained that capacity and transmission charges are expected to go up significantly until 2026.

Storage Rehabilitation Contract Amended, Additional Payment Approved

Council voted unanimously to waive the rule for three readings and to move an ordinance into immediate effect approving the amendment to a contract with Williams Brothers Builders, Inc. of Elyria. In November, Council entered into a contract with Williams Brothers Builders, Inc. for the Storage Building Rehabilitation Project. However, after starting the project, they realized there was a problem with the building, which was that the steel structure had never been properly attached to the concrete footing. In order to address this problem, Council authorized additional payment to Williams Brothers Builders, Inc. of up to $55,700.

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