Will the Community Support Code Enforcement?

Logo_City of Piqua - cyclist - red on blue

Below is a blog article that I wrote last August which challenges the way local government works in the United States.  There certainly are issues in our community that have to be addressed, but not everything is the responsibility of local government to solve.  Why should we need local government telling residents to pick up trash from their yard or mow the grass?  Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of the person living at that address?  Unfortunately, some residents do not heed their citizen responsibilities.

I think most people would agree that local government should not be involved in solving every problem within the community nor try to regulate every aspect of our lives.  At some point, the community as a whole needs to challenge those that create problems within the community and support the efforts of local government to correct issues that the community views as problems.

That being said, the City of Piqua does have an important role in code enforcement and is in the process of hiring a Code Compliance Coordinator to enforce the ordinances applying to building code, nuisance, and junk vehicles throughout the city.  This will be the first such position employed for this purpose for several years.  The position will be traveling daily throughout the city looking for code violations.  As these violations are processed and enforced, the community needs to stand behind and support these actions to ensure the violations are corrected.  Without the support of the community, the likelihood of correcting these obvious problems will falter from pressure that local government is again overreaching it’s authority.  The real success and effectiveness of this effort lies with the community.

A New Local Government Management Model

Local Gov

A recent article by Ed Everett – Senior Fellow at the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement of Pepperdine University – Today’s Local Government Management Model…It’s broken, so let’s fix it, proposes a new model for local government management.

Mr. Everett states that most local governments operate under the “Bitch and Fix” model.  Residents gripe and the elected body and local government manager believe the issue has to be fixed.  As a result, local governments take on more responsibility than they should and residents do not accept their share of the responsibility to improve the quality of life of the community.

The existing model makes the following assumptions…

Local government:

  • Is responsible for the quality of life of the community
  • Must solve people’s problems
  • Requires little of residents

Elected officials:

  • Are elected to fix all problems

Residents:

  • Act and feel like they should be treated as customers

Local government managers:

  • Try to make all the above happen

Under his proposed “Partnership” model, local governments need to work with residents acting like citizens.  The assumption is that local government will never be able to solve all problems without the active involvement by residents.  This doesn’t mean that local government should expect residents to pave streets, build infrastructure, or perform economic development.

The new proposed model does make the following assumptions…

Local government:

  • Can’t solve all problems and never could
  • Are partially – but not completely – responsible for the quality of life

Elected officials:

  • Set priorities and allocate resources for the most pressing issues

Residents:

  • Need to act more like citizens and less like customers
  • Must take shared responsibility for the quality of life in their neighborhoods

Local government managers:

  • Facilitate cooperative problem solving rather than always trying to solve the problems themselves

Whether you agree with the “Partnership” model or not, it does bring up some very valid points.  Local government cannot solve every community issue, nor should it.  Probably one of the most glaring examples is the property maintenance issue.  Local government is required by law to follow legal requirements to take action against violating property owners.  This generally is very time consuming and frustrating for residents.  Maybe a much more effective and quicker resolution could take place if neighbors talked with property owners to persuade cooperation in maintaining their properties.  Otherwise, we go through a continual cycle of required bureaucratic process.

In Piqua, we do have lots of citizen involvement (active participation) and engagement (knowledge about community issues).  Some great examples include our Adopt-A-Park program, Neighborhood Associations, Positively Promoting Piqua, Citizens for a Better Piqua, Active Piqua, POWW, MainSteet Piqua, Piqua Church Association, Friends of Piqua Parks, and the iPiqua Partnership.  These groups are taking on issues within the community.  But more of this is needed.

I would agree that the current model does not work well in some cases.  Hopefully, we can continue to expand our Piqua partnership with residents and progress for the betterment of the community.

 

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Ways to Get Involved in Your Piqua Community

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There are lots of ways to get involved in the City of Piqua to help improve the community.  Here are the various programs that may be of interest to you that fall under our CitizenNet umbrella.

Adopt_program

Our Adopt-A-Program provides opportunities for individuals, families, businesses, churches, or organizations to adopt parks, trails, streets, city blocks, landscaped areas, or other public to help maintain them and/or keep them litter free.

INVOLVE

The INVOLVE provides for volunteers to assist those citizens that are physically unable to perform certain property maintenance functions such as shoveling snow, trimming a tree, repairing a roof, or cutting brush.

Volunteer Park Ranger

You can become a Volunteer Park Ranger to patrol city parks and trails to assist users, look for needed repairs, or be visible to curtail vandalism.

 

 

 

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This is another program that assists homeowners in making repairs to their house or property.  The program works with volunteers, businesses, and organizations to help with both physical and financial needs to make repairs or improvements.

 

 

Piqua Clean Up Day

The entire Piqua Community can participate in the Community Clean Up Day which will take place on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 8:30am until Noon.  Citizens are encouraged to pick up litter and debris along trails, roadways, parks, fences, and even their own properties.

FriendsPark 3-11-13

Friends of the Piqua Parks is a non-profit organization with the mission of improving the Piqua Park System.

 

Active Piqua1

This organized group of citizens promote the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the city.

 

 

 

For additional information or who to contact on any of the these programs, please contact the City Manager’s Office at 778-2051.

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How Economic Development Works in Piqua

Economic Dev Image

Economic Development strategies vary from state to state and community to community.  There is no set formula that works for every community, so a number of strategies must be enacted to be successful in growing a community.  Some cities have more advantages than others, but no single answer works for anyone.

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The City of Piqua’s Economic Development Strategic Plan emphasizes working with our existing businesses and capitalizing on Piqua’s great assets.  Nationally, statistics verify that as much as 80% of all job growth comes from existing businesses.  Helping our existing business to grow and expand is an important part of our economic development strategy.  To date, this has been very successful with five (5) business expansions in 2015 and the same number planned for 2016.

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Piqua is blessed with great assets including location on I-75, the Great Miami River, a tremendous education system (Piqua School District, Upper Valley Career Center, and Edison State Community College), rail system, vibrant downtown, wonderful architecture, trails and park system, and much, much more.  Taking advantage of these assets is another important element in our economic development success.

Riverfront District Concept

A great example of this is the Riverfront Redevelopment Plan.  Utilizing our unique position on the Great Miami River with year-round activities and special events makes Piqua both a destination place and provides tremendous value to our residents.  Tying the riverfront into the downtown further expands the opportunities for business development and tourism.

It is important to recruit new businesses to Piqua, but that is not as easy as it seems.  Large manufacturers want shovel ready (all utilities and infrastructure in place) tracts of land at an affordable price.  This is one area that Piqua is very limited.  Very few large tracts of developable land have utilities in place and in most cases the cost of land exceeds the “going rate” which puts us “out of the game” for recruiting large manufacturers.  All of the large tracts of developable land in Piqua are currently privately owned, so these factors are controlled by the property owners.

DBJ Article

We are seeing a great increase in new small businesses, restaurants, and retailers opening in  Piqua.  Typically, we do not recruit these companies, but rather, they find Piqua because of demographics or reputation.  One of our excellent reputations is that the City of Piqua goes out of the way to help new businesses get started.  This reputation is a key component of our Economic Development Strategy.  And contrary to many false assumptions, the City of Piqua does not turn away any legitimate business.  Another reason for the growing interest in Piqua is because of our efforts to market the community.  Numerous recent national and regional awards, newspaper and journal articles (e.g. DBJ article of March 25th), magazine articles, and social media have garnered the attention of developers, potential new residents, and companies.

Finally, included in our economic development strategies are developing an available and reliable workforce for new and expanding businesses along with developing community amenities to entice new residents to live, work, and play in Piqua.  These are also critical factors that will determine our city’s future.

Having managed and been part of communities that have more than doubled populations and businesses in just a few short years, I can assure you there is no single answer as some mistakenly propose.  It takes working many different angles and strategies to develop a community that will be sustainable and generate community wealth for future generations.

 

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4th Fest Celebration Momentum Growing

4th Fest Feather RGB

The City of Piqua’s 4th Fest continues to build momentum with lots of activities planned for Fountain Park and Lock 9 Park on July 4th.  The City of Piqua took over the event for 2016 after the Piqua Fourth of July Association announced prior to the 2015 celebration they would not longer sponsor the event.  The City of Piqua’s 4th Fest Planning Committee consists of representatives from various city departments.

Festivities at Fountain Park begin at 10:00am and includes activities for children such as face painting, Center of Science & Technology exhibits, balloon sculpturing, puppet shows, a bike parade, costume characters, kennel club demos, putt-putt golf, BMX demos, caricature portraits, photo booth, and much more.  There is also much planned for adults including a Zip Line, Care Flight landing and demos, rock wall climbing, and more.  Musical entertainment will be on-going in Hance Pavilion with the Rum River Blend, Piqua Civic Band, and other entertainers.

Non-profit organizations and churches will be providing food and games throughout the day wrapping up at approximately 3:00pm.  Non-profits and churches wishing to participate with a booth at Fountain Park should contact the City Manager’s Office at 778-2051.

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All evening festivities move over to Lock 9 Park around 6:00pm with The Hired Guns Band followed by the musical sensation and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band – The Coasters.  The evening culminates with a fantastic fireworks display over the Great Miami River.

More entertainment and activities are being planned and finalized, but there is no doubt this will be a fantastic 4th Fest Celebration.

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Piqua – The Bicycling Hub of Western Ohio

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The City of Piqua is quickly becoming associated with great bicycling opportunities and advocacies of the sport.  In November 2015, the city was recognized by The League of American Bicyclists with the Bicycle Friendly Community Bronze designation.  The award recognizes states, communities, universities, and businesses for their efforts to create a bicycle-friendly environment.  A Bicycle Friendly Community is one that welcomes bicyclists and makes bicycling safe and convenient all citizens.

BFB silver seal

This past week, the City of Piqua’s Municipal Government Center was also recognized by The League of American Bicyclists with the Silver Bicycle Friendly Business Award.  The City of Piqua is one of 1,132 businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies in the nation achieving this designation.  The city’s Municipal Government Center is located adjacent to the city’s trail system and provides amenities such as convenient bicycle parking.  Employees are encourage to bike to work, provided bikes to ride during lunch time, and can earn funding in their Health Savings Account by demonstrating exercise such as bicycling.

Efforts are underway to extend Piqua’s 15-miles of Recreational Trail System to the north to Shelby County, to the west to Darke County, and east to Champaign County.  The system currently connects to 330-miles of paved trails throughout the Miami Valley making it the largest connected trail system in the United States.

Bicycling support organizations such as Bike Piqua and the Active Piqua Council have helped make the City of Piqua a name synonymous with bicycling.  This is not only significant for the recognition of our community, but also for the health and recreation benefits of the citizenry.

 

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Is Piqua’s Water In Danger of Lead Contamination?

water treatment plant final

A number of legitimate questions have recently been asked as to whether the City of Piqua’s drinking water could become contaminated with lead as has happened in Flint, Michigan.  To better understand the cause of Flint’s problem, it really boils down to officials in Flint made the decision to change water sources and failed to add anti-corrosive chemicals to the water to prevent deterioration of water distribution lines.   As a result, the pipes deteriorated and released lead and other contaminants into the drinking water.

Below is a recent article written by our Water Treatment Division that explains our testing processes to ensure Piqua water is safe for all customers.

The ongoing water crisis in Flint Michigan with lead in the drinking water and the numerous reports of harmful algae across Ohio has brought a lot of fear and questions regarding water quality nationwide. The City of Piqua Water Treatment Plant follows strict EPA guidelines to ensure that the citizens of Piqua have safe drinking water.

The Ohio EPA requires the City to test for lead and copper every three years in our distribution system. Due to many years of being in compliance with EPA standards, our testing was reduced from yearly, to every two years, to what is now every three years.  Should we ever fall out of compliance, we would be required to once again test more frequently.

Subsequently, 2015 was our year for testing.  As required by the EPA, we collected 30 samples from different points throughout the city.  These sites included homes with both lead and copper plumbing.  All samples collected were once again well in compliance with EPA standards.  In addition to this required testing, we also perform copper tests once a month on our finished water leaving the plant as well as one sample from our distribution system.  These samples have always been within EPA standards as well.

In 2014, the City of Toledo reached a water crisis with the formation of a harmful algal bloom at their intakes to their water treatment plant. The water was deemed unsafe for consumption for approximately 72 hours.  Upon hearing of this situation, the City of Piqua took it upon itself to become proactive in the testing for harmful algae in our reservoir system and the Great Miami River.

Since that time, Piqua has applied for and received grant money from the Ohio EPA for training and testing equipment so that we may do our own testing at the water treatment plant. Although not yet mandated by the EPA, last year we conducted weekly tests to ensure that we were not having harmful algal blooms in our waterways.  At no time in 2015 did we detect any harmful algae in any of our three water sources.

The Ohio EPA is in the process of creating a monitoring schedule that will go in effect in 2017. With that schedule we will then be mandated to test for harmful algae as well as test for cyanotoxins.  (Cyanotoxins are toxins that are produced from harmful algal blooms.)  We will continue our own weekly testing in 2016 and then follow the guidelines as set forth by the EPA when they become active.

The new water treatment plant will incorporate granular activated carbon filters into the treatment process. These filters will greatly improve our treatment process as they will allow us to remove more organics and atrazine from the raw water.  These filters have also been deemed by the EPA as the best and most reliable treatment process to remove cyanotoxins from the water.

 

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Economic Development Update and Outlook

Winans Ribbon Cutting

2015 was very successful from an economic development standpoint.  Many new businesses opened and important business expansions took place.  The great news is that city staff members are currently working on an additional 15 legitimate economic development projects that hopefully will be underway or completed during 2016.

Here are some of the 2015 successes and highlights:

New Businesses and Business Expansions

  • Winans Hometown Store
  • Dunham’s Sports
  • Ruso Business Center
  • Harmony Systems Expansion
  • P&R Specialty Expansion
  • Nitto Expansion
  • El Herradero Mexican Grill
  • Harvest Pantry
  • Bobcat Training Facility
  • Comfort Inn Renovation
  • Planet Fitness
  • Family Farm & Home
  • Prather Automotive
  • One Best Tire & Service
  • Numerous Small Shops

Riverfront Redevelopment

  • Piqua Power Plant River/Trail Redevelopment
  • Downtown DPL Substation Acquisition & Demolition
  • Laundry Building Acquisition & Demolition
  • White Building Donation & Demolition
  • Edison Light Company Building Renovation
  • Mo’s Building Acquisition for Redevelopment
  • Vacant Lot Acquisitions for Redevelopment
  • Zollinger Building Acquisition for Redevelopment
  • Downtown Riverfront & Corridor Park Placemaking Plan

Historic East Piqua Revitalization Plan

  • Neighborhood and Street Improvements
  • Levy Utilization for Recreation
  • Trail Loop
  • Potential New Site of YMCA/National Guard
  • Sports Facilities
  • Potential Reuse of Industries

Quality of Life

  • Trail Town Designation
  • Bicycle Friendly Community Designation
  • Trail Wayfinding Signage
  • Safe Routes to School Improvements
  • Intersection Improvements
  • I-75 Interchange Traffic Signal Replacements
  • Pitsenbarger Park Accessible Playground
  • William Pitsenbarger Statue funded and erected by the Friends of the Piqua Parks
  • Trail Extension Study to North/East/West

The year 2016 should be more exciting and successful as 2015.

 

 

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