The Parker Hotel is ready for demolition, and there is nothing out of the ordinary happening with childhood diseases in Highland County, according to reports at Monday’s Hillsboro City Council meeting.
Mayor Justin Harsha said the city has received a deed for the Parker Hotel and that the demolition process could begin later this month. He said asbestos has already been removed from the structure in the 100 block of West Main Street, and that some businesses in the area may have to temporarily be shut down while the building is taken down.
“The timeline looks like the 26th, hopefully, will be the day for the start of the demo. It looks like, hopefully, within two or three days it will be on the ground and taken care of,” Harsha said.
Council later in the meeting voted 6-0 to approve an emergency resolution to begin demolition of the building.
Highland County Health Commission Jared Warner said that despite a recent report from a Cincinnati news channel, “we cannot identify any issues of concern” related to childhood diseases.
“In 2016, we had a concerned citizen whose family member was a child diagnosed with childhood leukemia, and that was very concerning to them, so they wanted to do some research to see if there was more childhood leukemia in the county and if so, if it was a significant issue for the health of the community.” Warner said.
Warner said the Ohio Department of Health and Hamilton County Public Health Agency studied information submitted to them by Warner and that there’s “nothing happening in Highland County that’s out of the ordinary.”
Council member Claudia Klein, who asked Warner to speak at the meeting, asked the health commissioner if there was reason local residents should be concerned about the city’s water supply causing leukemia.
“One of the frustrating things about leukemia is we don’t always know why it occurs. We cannot identify any water sources that are specifically contributing to these cases,” Warner said.
During his report to council, Harsha said city officials have held 20 to 30 meetings in the past month with local organizations and officials.
He said they met with Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan and plan to work more closely with the county, and met with Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin and Greenfield Public Service Director Gary Lewis, “because our relationship has not been real great and we plan to work on that.”
The mayor said the city met with the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association to see how the city can help with its events, mentioning a Christmas tree lighting that could possibly be held in the Colony Park.
Harsha said Highland County Engineer Chris Fauber approached the city about a sharing a dump site at an old quarry the city recently received from the Butler family. Harsha said the county is running out of space to dump clean fill, could possibly use the quarry site for that purpose, and in return the county could provide the city with a road from the dump site to North East Street.
The mayor said the city spoke with the Community Improvement Corporation and Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation and the decided to reclaim a parking lot behind the Colony Park.
“We’ve got some plans there for some electric car charging stations and are going to be holding some events in the park, so we thought it was very important to have that parking lot. We’re going to get that parking lot back and move forward with some striping,” Harsha said.
City officials also met with with the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District about the former fire station at the corner of Governor Trimble Place and North High Street. Harsha said that while the city cannot sell the building until 2023, it would like to hold some events there, and that the fire district said that would be fine.
In her report to council, Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said, “Things have been moving quickly at the city and it’s been a busy and productive month. We are continuing to make strides toward peak communication. I have also been working with the public on complaints, permits and blighted properties.”
She also provided a list of things she has been working on including:
· Implementing monthly department head meetings which will involve quarterly budget updates with help of Auditor Alex Butler.
· Meeting with building department official Steve Rivera and learning there is need for adequate software to help streamline and track inspections.
· Meeting with Gary Silcott, engineer, to discuss past, present and upcoming projects and project funding for the city.
· Discussed with the Planning Commission changes to be made to the zoning code and approved three conditional use permits.
· Chief Eric Daniels and the Hillsboro Police Department had an on-site inspection by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice for Ohio Collaborative Accreditation and “passed with flying colors. This is a great accomplishment for the police department and city of Hillsboro.”
· Met with Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis regarding a new access road on SR 247 to the high school. She said the city is working to extend its corporation limits because school wants to open the access road this fall.
· Phase I of the storm sewer project is currently underway.
· Discussed economic development and brainstormed ideas with Katy Farber and Taylor Stepp with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.
· Reviewed the proposed Policies and Procedures Manual for the city, had a meeting Tuesday with all department heads to discuss modifications, and will be establishing a completed copy to bring to council in the near future.
“I also have a couple of items that I would like to ask the public for their help: First, we are looking for community involvement and recommendations for the neighborhood revitalization project,” Abbott said. “Also, we are in search for volunteers who would like to help with the community garden, new walking trails and the creation of a butterfly garden at Harmony Lake and Liberty Park. If you have recommendations or would like to volunteer, please visit our social media, website or call the office at 393-5219. Any input or help would be much appreciated.”
Council member Patty Day said she has been working on census issues and that she wanted the city to do something about its issue with homeless residents.
“I’m troubled by the population of folks that are truly on the street. I don’t believe I’m the only person in this room that has noticed we have a growing population of folks literally on the street,” Day said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.