Thursday, October 16, 2003

Trustees move on storage policy

West Chester flap spurs proposal on items kept at township property

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Several issues remain unresolved as trustees took the first steps this week toward forming a policy about storing personal items on township property.

A first draft of the policy only mentions storage rules for community civic groups and nonprofits; it does not address whether township trustees and/or employees can store items for free.

That, however, is expected to change. Trustees Jose Alvarez and Catherine Stoker say they plan to implement a rule against that.

"That's what started this whole thing," Stoker said.

"If there isn't enough room for 60,000 people to all store their boats and recreational vehicles on public property, then no one other person should be able to use that as their storage facility. It is public property for the use of all the public, and you can't have different rules for different people."

The township will require those who store items on West Chester's property to agree in writing not to hold the township liable.

Last week, the Enquirer reported that Trustees President Dave Tacosik has been storing his sailboat and a 30-foot-long RV in the township's police impound lot during fall and winter months since he was elected in 1999.

Tacosik said he wasn't the only one storing personal equipment for free on township property. Administrator Dave Gully also acknowledged storing his sailboat at the township's safety services building.

Since then, both men say they have moved their items off township property. And Gully maintains his sailboat was stored at the building only for about two months because of a flat tire on its trailer.

Late Tuesday, residents attending a trustees meeting called for Tacosik and Gully to reimburse the township for the storage. Neither man, however, said he would.

Some residents called for oversight on storage beyond the township administrator.

"I am upset. I am appalled at the 'Storagegate' issue, where we have people that work for township government that are, in a sense, abusing their privileges," said Gary Tucker, 52. "I think that the people that are involved should make restitutions to the township."

Tacosik apologized again for the incident on Tuesday, saying he stored his items on township property for free on advice from Gully.

"Let me assure you that there was no expense to the township and no employee was ever pressured in this unfortunate issue," Tacosik said, reading from a prepared statement he also has posted on his campaign Web site.

"I am sorry I did not use better judgment regarding this issue."

Tacosik then accused Stoker of "politicizing" the incident when she brought it back up after his apology, saying she has had a boat for years and would never think of storing it on township property.

"Township trustees are supposed to set a standard for helping the community, not serving as leeches on the community," she said.

"It is disingenuous for (Tacosik) to blame Dave Gully for his lack of ethics."


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