Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For $770,000 it ought to be clean

By my count, The Times-Reporter has published three stories on the proposal by developers Kathy Pietro and Bob Martinelli to build hotels and restaurants on the old Ohio Department of Transportation site on W. High Ave. in New Philadelphia.

Each story contained this or a similar paragraph, “Work to start developing the property could begin by early July. Sale from the port authority is contingent upon completing environmental cleanup of the site and final approval by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.”

 The husband-wife team of Martinelli and Pietro has agreed to pay $770,000 for the property, which in my book is a pretty good chunk of money. And as I wrote before, I’m confident that the couple has the wherewithal to get it done. I wish I had the same confidence in the Tuscarawas County Port Authority.

I’m told that an excavation that occurred since the announcement of the pending sale revealed that the site still is “dirty” and in need of further cleanup. Think of the ODOT site as a big, old service station where fuel, oil and other chemicals routinely seeped into the ground over a period of decades. It’s not an uncommon problem to have to clean up such sites, but it can be costly if it’s done right.

And that means extensive removal of tainted soil. Pietro and Martinelli want to be ready to go on July 1. We’ll be watching.

 Last week I said that I hope Dover regulates signage in the area of the new I-77 interchange so that future development doesn’t damage the aesthetics, which right now is clean and unobstructed. I’m told Dover has ordinances in place to limit the extent of signage, including those skyscraper signs that dot the sides of our highways .

 A new service station/convenience store is due on the old Anderson Medical building site in the coming months. If there is to be further development near the site, property owners will have to put some land on the market. One developer told me there is nothing for sale.

Also last week I put forward the issue of House Bill 445, which would allow counties to do away with the office of coroner and instead contract with another county for services. Dr. James Hubert, who serves in the dual role of Tuscarawas County coroner and health commissioner, thinks it is bad legislation. “This is about home rule and the privilege of local residents to choose their elected personnel,” he told The Times-Reporter. “It will, in time, eliminate local control and provide regionalization from larger communities or the state, which increases big government.”

One Bargain Hunter reader, Brent Baumberger of Dover, disagreed. “We are letting elected representatives decide our fate with the coroner issue,” he wrote under my offering on the BH’s website. “Nothing against Dr. Hubert, but he already contracts out to Stark County to provide autopsies and has a (non-doctor, but quality employee) do a lot of his onsite investigations. This is already a ‘contracted’ position.

“We have an extremely competent sheriff’s department and quality local law enforcement available to investigate deaths. When Dr. Hubert isn’t doing autopsies (is he even qualified to do so?) already, what’s the point in paying him to do a service we are already contracting out? “This legislation allows for counties to do so if their elected representatives choose to …

It isn’t a requirement that they do.” Another reader, who requested anonymity, agreed with Baumberger, noting, “I believe the time has come for Ohio to abolish the county coroner’s elected position, and seek the model of a medical examiner (either regional, or local, based upon population need) that has been in place in more progressive regions of our country.” I have asked Dr. Hubert to respond.

Dr. Hubert responds.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, authored an interesting little piece on the center’s website recently. He listed five decades’ worth of pre-election conventional wisdom as it applied to each winning presidential candidate’s chances, i.e. “1960: No Roman Catholic, much less an inexperienced 43-year-old, is going to win the White House.”

 Here are a few more:

“1968: Richard M. Nixon is a two-time loser, yesterday’s man who couldn’t even grab his home-state governorship. “

1976: Jimmy Who? There’s a reason the last Deep South candidate for president was elected in 1848.

“1980: Ronald Reagan is much too far to the right, and he’d be the oldest president ever elected.”

Conventional wisdom for this year? “No controversial president with unemployment over 8 percent could possibly be re-elected.” And this one: “No Mormon candidate, especially one who lacks a common touch, could possibly be elected.”

Which candidate, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, will defy the conventional wisdom? Let me know.

Follow Dick Farrell on Facebook and Twitter (dfarrell_dover).

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