Saturday, October 18, 2003

Trustee candidates debate issues related to growth



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LIBERTY TWP. - Candidates vying for office in the booming southeastern Butler County townships agree that handling growth is a top priority.

But there was a wide range of views on other topics such as traffic, government spending, and parks and recreation in a forum Thursday for candidates in Libety and West Chester townships.

Two candidates for West Chester trustee, George Lang and Dan Wagner, called for a public vote on whether West Chester should build a proposed $20-millionto-$30-million community recreation center. They also criticized a proposed park levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, saying the 1.95-mill continuing levy for about $60 million in park improvements is too much.

"We can make small steps to improve our parks without spending massive funds," Wagner said.

Lang, who operates his own business and is involved in several West Chester businesses including the new Jag's Steak & Seafood in the Union Centre Boulevard area, said he has the connections to ensure the township, Butler County and state and federal government work together for the good of the area, particularly in making traffic improvements.

Infrastructure such as roads, he stressed, hasn't been kept up with and that should be the focus now instead of spending $60 million for parks.

Traffic "has been a problem for years and why it hasn't been solved yet is appalling to me. Roads must be a priority."

West Chester trustee candidate Tyrone Sims called for more diversity in Lakota schools, particularly among teachers. He repeatedly portrayed himself as an everyman who isn't backed by special interest groups and/or developers.

"I've heard people brag about their contacts," Sims said. "That's all fine and dandy; but when it comes down to it, you're going to have to sell the ideas to the people, and that's what I do."

Incumbent Dave Tacosik lauded the township's tremendous business growth in recent years and promoted the levy - but he was careful to stress that it's ultimately up to residents to show their desire for improved parks.

"The parks issue is up to the voters," he said. "We are currently spending $850,000 a year on parks. ... I am not sure we can continue to do this."

Long-time Liberty Township Trustee David Kern, who is running for re-election, said the township leadership is doing the best it can to control Liberty's rampant residential growth.

He noted that the township is pushing hard for a new exit off Interstate 75 to ease traffic and boost business development to offset residential costs.

"Do I like seeing all these houses? Absolutely not," Kern said. "It's cutting into my hunting country. But we are doing the best we can."

One of his challengers, Naomi Ormes, criticized the township for not devoting enough money to road improvements, particularly an intersection near her house, Ohio 747 and Princeton Road.

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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