“You can continue to ignore reality, but you cannot continue to ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”
– Ayn Rand

Newton Falls – After the call to order and Pledge of Allegiance the roll was taken. Mayor Waddell was excused because of an illness. All but one other council member was there.
There was a special presentation by Mr. Pat Layshock who directs a foundation trying to preserve the community center. They would like to form a partnership with city council to preserve historic buildings. They are offering services as grant writers and for the lighting of the falls.

The community center, which served as a USO building when it was first built, is now closed. It is one of either four or six remaining in the United States. The foundation would like to refurbish and preserve it. They are opposed to it being torn down and having a new community center built. The foundation will be bringing in an expert in historical preservation to speak to council at the May 1 meeting.

During reports to council Mr. Harry Saver reported on the Street/Maintenance Department’s work and plans. Even though they are down a couple of workers they are getting a lot of work done. They have been diligently working on the roads, streets, buildings and properties. He and his crew were commended by council for the work they are doing.
During new business a motion was passed to authorize the City Manager to send a letter in opposition to the Governor’s proposal to institute a state-operated central-collection program for the Ohio municipal income tax. It will cost the city one percent of its tax revenue if the state passes this.

Another motion was passed authorizing the city manager to send a letter to our Congressman and Senators requesting the proposal by the Administration for eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program be stopped.

Because of the special speaker at the May 1 meeting a motion was passed to modify the schedule to allow him up to thirty minutes to speak. Mr. Layshock requested this and council approved it.
During public comments approximately ten residents spoke about the Parks and Recreation Department’s vote to demolish the community center. Some of the residents were very emotional about their connection to the center and its connection to the community.

The first resident to speak gave some history on the center and compared its condition to the condition of other existing USO buildings in the country. One person who is not a resident of Newton Falls spoke about the center’s meaning to surrounding communities. Another non-resident had a copy of the “Existing Conditions Study” that was done in April 2016.
Council gave time for all who wanted to voice their opinions to speak and listened to all of them. When council gave their closing remarks some residents in attendance started to speak and had to be asked to be quiet. The law director responded to one resident’s comments because the comments were untrue and not a part of the city charter. Residents were reminded that Parks and Recreation voted to demolish the building, city council did not.

Residents were asked to think about the issues facing the city and ask themselves if preserving the community center is the top priority facing the city. Right now there does not seem to be enough financial support to preserve the center. There will be more open discussion regarding this issue in future meetings.