At a recent visit to the high school, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin spent the day with government students who were learning about public policy and he encouraged them to take part in their local government and beyond.
“I expressed my passion on public policy and informed them that without public input, you cannot have good public policy,” Wilkin said. “I asked them to get involved in their local, state and federal government, but also invited every one of them to come to council meetings or at least watch them on television.”
Wilkin brought up comments from a resident who spoke to council a few weeks ago about protecting Greenfield’s unique culture.
“The community-minded culture we feel and experience in Greenfield is important to me, and in order to maintain that culture, we must ensure we are getting everyone involved in the creation of our public policy,” Wilkin said. “ I have mentioned this in the past, but I believe our council committees play a large role in preserving our culture. If we are engaging the public through active committee meetings and as policy is created, our culture will be embraced.”
Throughout Wilkin’s visit with the government students, he said he told them of plans the village is currently working on and some of the ideas being looked into. Among the things discussed were the development of Felson Park as well as the quarry area into a destination offering a zipline course and cliff diving.
“This idea created significant excitement and sparked more discussions into ideas for entertainment for teens and young adults,” he said.
Every single class, Wilkin said, offered the same ideas, things like a Taco Bell, a bowling alley, a theater, an arcade, a renovated downtown, streets free of trash, and a homeless shelter. Additionally, he said a resounding comment was, “We have no place to hang out.”
“It matters what they think,” Wilkin said of the students’ ideas. “It’s important for us to understand what they want.”
While the government may not be able to actually make all the things happen that the students suggested, Wilkin said the local government could foster an environment for those developments.
Since meeting with the students, Wilkin said he has been approached by and received emails from them with even more ideas.
As to the Felson Park development, the village is receiving more than $20,000 through a NatureWorks grant. It will be used to construct a pavilion at Felson Park. Construction is expected to begin in the warmer months.
On a related matter, Wilkin said he is meeting with OHM Advisors, a community advancement firm out of Columbus, to discuss a strategy for applying for large Ohio Department of Natural Resources grants to help pay for the phased plan for Felson Park, which includes things like a playground and an amphitheater.
On another matter, council member Eric Borsini spoke about trash in the recycling bin at the Shopko building.
The village recently had three recycling bins removed from a location on Mill Street due to the consistent abuse.
“It’s a problem we are working to solve,” Borsini said.
He encouraged citizens to help monitor the recycling bin and let the village know if they see someone putting trash in the bin.
“We as a government can’t do everything, but together, as a community, we can make things better,” Borsini said.
The city manager also talked about a recent proclamation with the McClain FFA for FFA Week, Feb. 22-29. He said he is thankful for the FFA students and advisers and their engagement in the community.
The McDonald’s’s Classic, a youth basketball tournament hosted by the Tiger Youth Basketball Organization (TYBO), is set for Feb. 20-23. Sixty-four teams, plus their coaches and families, are expected in town over the course of the tournament.
Other upcoming events include Grow Greater Greenfield’s Souper Bowl on Feb. 29 from 6-9 p.m. and the Greenfield Historical Society’s Sunday Dinner on March 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Grain & Hay building.
Council member Mark Branham spoke about next month’s build of new playground equipment for the Imagination Kingdom. He noted the massive community involvement that went into the build of the old playground structure more than 25 years ago, and said that the new build will also be at the hands of the community.
“It’s a village event and it’s a great event for our village,” he said.
The next Lunch with the City Manager is Friday, Feb. 21 at Jerry’s Pizza beginning at 11 a.m. The monthly lunch gives residents the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with Wilkin, as well as hear about the efforts and plans of the administration.
As is the new practice, the council meeting was opened with prayer. This time it was offered by local pastor Todd Ernst of Grace Baptist Church. According to Borsini, at the next meeting prayer will be offered by another local minister, and so on. He said council wants to keep the community’s clergy involved in the meetings.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.