EAST LIVERPOOL — In a freewheeling exchange, some resident of the city’s East End had the opportunity to talk with city officials and share concerns.
Brian Kerr, East End resident and First Ward council member, called the town hall meeting to listen and share some of his ideas to help improve the community.
Some of the topics under discussion included starting an East End Yard of the Month contest along with a Business of the Month award. Kerr said a prize of a gas gift card and a gift certificate from Sparkle Market would be awarded.
“If one neighbor cleans up their property maybe another neighbor will do the same,” Kerr said. “Add it all together, and eventually you can really improve a neighborhood.”
Talk also centered around a possible change in city ordinances making a resident more accountable in property upkeep.
When the East Liverpool Planning Department issues a warning letter about high grass or weeds, the property owner has several days to respond. If no action is taken, the matter goes to court, according to Kerr.
However, if a fine is issued in the case, that money stays with the court system and the Planning Department sees nothing. “How can you expect a city department to go to all of that trouble and go through with all of that work when they don’t see a dime,” Kerr said. “We need to get some of the money back into the department.”
Ryan Estell, head of the Service-Safety Department, said the city faced a similar situation with the Parking Bureau, but the procedure was altered so the city now recoups some of the funds from a fine.
Mayor Jim Swoger said the city may become more proactive and, after warning the property owner of high grass or weeds without results, could send city employees to cut the grass, calculate the costs and then assess the property owner’s taxes.
However, Swoger said city ordinances will likely need changed to help with enforcement.
Kerr agreed saying, “If we put a little teeth in our laws, it will let people know we’re serious and the city means business.”
“We need legislation that will bite them,” the mayor added. “The best way to get their attention is to bite them in the wallet.”
The problem comes when a piece of property is abandoned and taxes are left unpaid. Kerr said the fines paid by property owners that do pay might help the city clean up areas where a problem property’s ownership is in question.
Potholes are still a concern, and Kerr raised the idea of a group of property owners getting together and purchasing asphalt independently then working with the city to patch the holes.
“That is the sort of program that can really work,” East End resident Alonzo Spencer said. The program would benefit the less traveled streets in the city.
Spencer also praised the police department for responding to calls in the East End of residents parking on certain sidewalks. After officers issued tickets, the problem went away, according to Spencer.
Other items discussed to benefit the East End included holding events at the area playgrounds and possibly adding a Neighborhood Watch program.
The group approved the notion of folding their efforts into the existing East End Improvement Association.
At the next association meeting, new officers will be appointed and several of the topics are expected to be raised once again.