Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Mason, Deerfield make nice



By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Southern Warren County leaders want to put behind years of squabbling and bad blood behind, and look together toward the future.

Neighboring communities Mason and Deerfield Township, which for years quarreled like jealous siblings, are going to have their respective administrations start meeting and possibly plan projects together.

They could coordinate building soccer and baseball fields and even team up on road improvements, suggested Deerfield Township Trustee Bill Morand, who was invited by Mayor John McCurley to speak with City Council on Monday night.

"The idea of Deerfield and Mason, patching things up, coming forward and finding common points to work together, I think is valuable to both of our communities," Morand said. "Both communities are growing at a pretty high pitch. ... We could do things that make sense for both communities."

But what's unlikely to happen, officials from both sides said, was combining their fire departments again. They shared services with the Mason-Deerfield Joint Fire District until 1998, when a long-running political feud helped lead to its demise.

Much of that tension stemmed from annexation of tax-rich parcels of land into the city, including Procter & Gamble property and Paramount's Kings Island. Between 1989 and 2001, Mason annexed about 8 square miles, most from an unwilling Deerfield Township.

There were also legal battles, such as the one over the city building a 175-foot water tower on Mason Road.

But now, officials say they want all that to be bygones. Last summer, the township trustees and City Council members even held a peace summit of sorts. It was their first joint meeting since the fire district split.

"We've got too much in common," McCurley said. "I know a lot of people who live in Deerfield or live in Mason, who don't really realize which they live in. We're all neighbors. And let's just make a new day."

But when Morand mentioned an agreement on annexation, which he wants to protect the township's tax base, City Council didn't seem to jump at the idea.

"Let's leave it as we have some common grounds we both agree we need to work on," McCurley said. "We have to start out walking before we can run."

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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