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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

City Council Round-Up: Mayor Brown Casts Tie-Breaking Vote to Expand Fort Thomas Bow Hunting




by PAT LaFLEUR
City Reporter, Fort Thomas Matters

This week's City Council meeting saw a number of issues brought before council, including the contentious proposed expansion to the city's bow hunting ordinance. Here's the round-up:

Bow Hunting Ordinance

Council heard the second reading of an expansion of the city's ordinance allowing for bow hunting within city limits. The new ordinance adds 93 days to the current hunting season and allows residents to combine adjacent properties into 3-acre hunting zones. The previous ordinance stated that only 3-acre plots were eligible for hunting.

Council was split on the decision, leading Mayor Mary Brown to cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the new ordinance.

Council members Lampe, Peterman, and Haas voted in favor of the ordinance, while Council members Kelly, Bowman, and Fossett voted against.

While there was little discussion of the issue among council members at this stage, several impassioned residents addressed council, almost equally split for and against the new ordinance. 

Matt Grosser of Ohio Ave. supports the expansion, emphasizing archery as "a relatively safe form of hunting," and sees the deer population as a greater threat to the Fort Thomas community.

Other community members disagreed. Mike McGraw of Forest Ave. said, "I think the current program is doing exactly what it should be doing," and he worries that the new ordinance could eliminate the deer population altogether. Council member Ken Bowman has expressed similar concerns in previous meetings over adding 93 days to Fort Thomas's hunting season.

As far as the numbers go, it's unclear if the first bow hunting program was effective. According to the deer census conducted by the city earlier this year, the deer population has decreased by over half since the first hunting ordinance was passed, but the number of auto accidents involving deer has increased since 2010. 

Other residents expressed concern over safety and boundaries, especially in wooded areas where most hunting occurs. Bev Erschell of Shaw Ln. explained, "We know they hunt [in the woods] below us, and there's no way to know where one property starts and another ends." 

Council member Lisa Kelly expressed a similar concern during the last council meeting, relaying the story of a resident who reportedly found an arrow in the ground under her kitchen window. 

City Administrator Don Martin explained to NKY.com, however, that the only official report to the city or FTPD of an arrow in a resident's yard was filed back in 2007, and he urges residents to report to the city when this occurs.

Upon hearing the decision of council, several disappointed residents left the meeting.

The new bow hunting season in Fort Thomas, per the new ordinance, is now Sept. 7 until Jan. 20, in line with Kentucky's deer hunting season. The earliest the new ordinance can go into effect is Oct. 31.


Fire Department Grant

FTFD Chief Mark Bailey reported that the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security has awarded the department a $7000 grant for gas monitoring and calibration equipment. Chief Bailey nodded to Captain Greg Schultz as the engine behind securing the grant.

Chief Bailey also announced an upcoming collaboration with the Campbell County Detention Center, working to repaint the approximately 500 fire hydrants throughout the city.


Upcoming City Projects

City Administrator Martin briefed council on a few upcoming projects/issues:

  • The city will partner with the Highlands Athletic Boosters, providing $30,000 for a new softball complex at Winkler Field. The city will contribute construction labor and materials for new dugouts, restrooms, and concessions, and HAB will repay the loan over the next five years. Martin called the partnership a "win-win."

6 comments:

  1. Will the city compose a new map that shows where hunting with a bow will be legal in the city? The old map is quite difficult to read and needs to be updated now.

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  2. Shame on you City Council! When, not if, when there is an injury that blood will be on your hands!

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  3. Why is the city spending $30,000 of my tax dollars to build a softball field for Highlands Athetic Boosters? Aren't city taxes collected for fire, police and infrastructure? This seems like a misuse of funds. Is the city going to build sports fields for the two parochial schools as well?

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  4. If you read the article, you will notice that the Athletic Boosters will repay the loan over the next 5 years, so the city is not "really" paying for it, as they will be reimbursed. If you consider the fact that the field and facilities will be available for city use, much like the ball fields at ALL the other city parks (Junior Leagues, not being used EVERY day) for you and your family to utilize), then look at it this way: You are loaning $30,000 of your tax dollars (you must make a nice living to individually contribute 30k to taxes alone)to the Athletic Boosters for 5 years and, in return, you will be able to enjoy the field in question. If you have no plans in utilizing such facilities, then run for City Council and prohibit similar deals from happening in the future, or move out of the city. Do people have nothing better to do than complain?

    Furthermore, for the comment about the parochial schools getting a field, the answer would likely be NO. HOWEVER, a lot of the kids that live in Ft. Thomas and attend a parochial school, play junior league ball giving them the opportunity to also enjoy the field. Also, they would be free to utilize these fields when they are not being used otherwise.

    A "misuse of funds"
    is a very strong statement that I am sure was meant to distract focus from the entire story, which is a positive one wherein local government and a private organization worked together to provide an ultimate good for our community. If the Athletic Boosters were not willing to go in on this (did not want to pay it back) then I am sure the city would have thought long and hard about this, and eventually said no. If that had been the case, then the citizens of the city (most notably the children) would not have had the opportunity to enjoy another great ball field.

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  5. I think the $30k is a loan from the city that the boosters will pay back (that's the way I read it, anyway). This is fine with me, assuming that the field is not for exclusive use of HHS softball. If it is used by rec leagues, knothole, etc., then it's a good deal for everyone.

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  6. I have a few questions about this:

    It says "the city will contribute construction labor and materials for new dugouts, restrooms, and concessions" does this mean that the city is paying for this, or is this part of the HBA loan?

    Wasn't there a ball field there already? How is this an improvement for your average Ft Thomas resident not affiliated with Highlands girls softball or HBA?

    At what interest rate is HBA repaying the loan?

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