West Milton plans new municipal park entrance


WEST MILTON — Members of the West Milton Village Council approved the purchase of a property on South Miami Street for the purpose of building a second entrance to West Milton Municipal Park.

Council members approved a resolution authorizing the purchase during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The property is located at 438 S. Miami St.; the property owners negotiated with the village, and agreed to accept a purchase price of $65,000 for the land and $17,000 for expenses. The municipality will also pay all closing costs associated with the purchase.

“This is the parcel that will be the new second entrance to our park,” Municipal Manager Jeff Sheridan said.

Village council is also moving forward with another project to install new sidewalks and a concrete barrier for pedestrians along State Route 571. Council members approved a resolution authorizing the municipal manager to apply for funding from the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) to help pay for the project.

“This is the sidewalk project that would put in sidewalks and more importantly, a barrier on the north side of 571,” Sheridan said. “It would be a sidewalk trail, and then the bridge would be reconfigured to open up a wider area for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel safely, with a concrete barrier between them and the vehicles.”

The sidewalk would run from the entrance on the north side of the Stillwater Crossings project to State Route 48. If the project is approved for MVRPC funding, the village’s share of the cost would be approximately $368,335.45.

In other business, council members also approved ordinances to update fees for zoning permits and street cut bonds, and heard the first reading of ordinances to increase the penalties for sidewalk violations and dumping of yard waste into village gutters and storm sewers.

Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance to add BB guns, air rifles, sling shots and bows and arrows to the list of firearms and other weapons that cannot be discharged in the village. Council members rejected the proposed ordinance, which will now be re-written and returned to council at a later meeting.

The rejected ordinance would have made it a fourth-degree misdemeanor to discharge a BB gun, air rifle, slingshot or bow and arrow within the municipality. Offences would have been considered a first-degree misdemeanor if the offence took place adjacent to a schoolhouse, church or inhabited dwelling. Offences that caused risk or harm to persons or property would have been a felony.

“This ordinance and issue has generated significant discussion over multiple meetings,” Sheridan said.

Several council members objected to the wording of the ordinance.

“The way that reads, a kid who makes a slingshot in his backyard is going to be guilty of this offence,” Council member Greg Tracy said. “That’s kind of silly.”

“At some point it crosses the line, and for that reason I don’t like this ordinance and will not be voting for it,” he said.

Council member Chris Horn agreed. “I would generally agree,” Horn said. “Just because of the multiplicity of different BB guns, and airguns; to me, there’s too much there.”

“There’s a difference between firearms and BB guns,” Tracy said. “There are things you can do in your backyard and you’re not disturbing your neighbors. You could shoot an air gun or a BB gun or something, as long as you don’t shoot it onto their property and as long as you don’t point it at someone, you’re not really hurting anybody, if you’re not making noise.”

“I would also tend to agree,” Council President Sarah Copp said. “The slingshot, it seems a little much.”

“That’s where the discretion of your officers comes into play,” Sheridan said. “You can’t legislate every particular action. Many times, officers have discretion over the law.”

“I think it would be really easy to get into the weeds on BB guns and pellet rifles,” Council member Don Dorman said. “A break-barrel pellet rifle can be loud; it breaks the sound barrier, it’s as loud as a gun. By the same token, a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun comes out at about 150-feet-per-second; probably about the same speed as an airsoft gun.”

“Who’s going to police whether it’s a high-powered air rifle or a low-powered air rifle,” Dorman said.

“There are different types of BB guns,” village Police Chief Doyle Wright said. “It depends on what you get. They can be lethal as well.”

“Slingshots I understand,” Wright said. “That makes sense to me. There are some changes we can make to some of this, but I think if we take too much out it defeats the purpose of what it really is about.”

The ordinance will now be re-written, and returned to council for consideration at a later date.

“We’ll try again,” Sheridan said. “We want to craft an ordinance that gets a majority of you in favor of it.”

Council members went on to recognize Wright and the West Milton Police Department, which was recently presented with a Gold Award from the Lexipole company.

“Lexipole is the company we use for policies and procedures,” Wright said. “We worked hard to make sure we had all those policies and procedures up-to-date. They gave us a plaque to display in the hallway; we obtained the Gold Standard.”

Council members also heard announcements regarding changes to the village’s recycling program, and the upcoming Third Thursday event in downtown West Milton on Oct. 20. “We are modifying our recycling process,” Sheridan said. “We got a grant to pay for the roll-offs that we’ve been renting.”

“In 2022, we budgeted $60,000 for the roll-offs,” Sheridan said. “After receiving the grant, that line item can be reduced to approximately $10,000. Kudos to service director Herron; his efforts saved the village $50,000.”

The village will host its monthly “Third Thursday” event downtown from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20.

“We are having our last Third Thursday event in October,” council president Sarah Copp said. “We’re shutting the street down, so it’s going to be a big one.”

“We’ll have a lot of food trucks down there, we’ll have craft vendors,” Copp said. “We have karaoke coming, and we’re proposing to do a cake walk also. It’s going to be a really fun night, and we should have a lot of people down there.”

“On Nov. 26, we’ll be having the tree lighting parade for the Christmas Season,” she said. “We’ll be having free carriage rides again, so it’s going to be a fun time.”

Village Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be a workshop held on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 pm.

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

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