July 10, 2003


Village Council business—
Council introduces proposal to conduct visioning process

After spending more than four months off the public radar screen, a plan to create a visioning process for Yellow Springs has reemerged on Council’s agenda, with a proposal for a four-day community summit.

Presented at Village Council’s meeting Monday, the proposal calls for holding a summit during which local residents would discuss “bold and enlightened government” and active and empowered citizens “forging a thriving, vibrant and sustainable community.”

The visioning process would feature a concept called “appreciative inquiry,” through which local residents would discuss what they view as positives aspects or stories about Yellow Springs. These positive stories and experiences will help residents form statements about the community. The statements will lead to “pilot plans,” or projects for community members to take on.

The proposal was put together by Chester Bowling, an assistant professor and extension specialist in community leadership and management with the Ohio State University Extension office. Bowling, who has been working with Council on the visioning process, met with Council members to put together a list of six questions, or discussion points, that summit participants will be asked to help forge a vision for the future of the village.

The discussion points include the things people value about Yellow Springs; high points people have experienced while living here; residents we admire; bold government initiatives; innovative community projects; and ways to heighten the health, vitality and sustainability of Yellow Springs.

In an e-mail to Council president Tony Arnett, Bowling also said that during the summit participants would also discuss Village spending priorities.

During the meeting Monday, Arnett said that the focal point of the appreciative inquiry process is the summit, and that the more people who participate, the better the results. Those who cannot attend the summit will have an opportunity to participate after the event, he added.

Arnett asked Council to digest Bowling’s proposal. Arnett said that Bowling is “on the right track” conceptually, though he might differ on Bowling’s wording.

Under Bowling’s original proposal, which he introduced last fall, the summit was scheduled to take place during the winter of 2002. When asked on Monday about the delay in moving forward on the appreciative inquiry process, Arnett said that “it took a little bit longer to work through the material.” Arnett also took partial blame for the delay, saying that he was “distracted” last month because he got married.

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In other Council business:

• Council approved 3-0 an emergency ordinance adopting a management plan for a Village natural gas aggregation program. Council members Mary Alexander and Joan Horn were absent. An emergency ordinance is adopted with one reading instead of two, which is Council’s typical procedure.

The program allows the Village to create a buying pool of gas customers and negotiate on behalf of local residents natural gas rates with suppliers. Local residents who do not want to participate in the Village’s buying group can opt out of the program and negotiate their own rates or stick with the current supplier, Vectren.

• Council approved 3-0 the first reading of an ordinance creating a new zoning district, Residence A-1, which require lots in the district to have a minimum frontage of 75 feet. Though Council approved a first reading of the ordinance last month, Council committed a procedural error, forcing its members to cast a second first reading. A second reading and public hearing will take place at Council’s next meeting, July 21.

• Ruth Bayless, a member of the Building and Finance Committee of the First Baptist Church, criticized Council for its decision in the spring to limit vendors at the annual fireworks display to the Yellow Springs Lions Club, which organizes the event at Gaunt Park. Bayless said that the committee sold food and beverages at the fireworks display to raise funds to help pay for the church’s mortgage.

She said that because Gaunt Park is public property it should be open for public use. Bayless also criticized Council for not informing the committee of its decision.

Arnett said that Council should have discussed the decision with other groups that usually vend items during the display, which, he said, he will advocate Council to do next year.

Council member George Pitstick, who is the president of the Lions Club, said that money the club raises during the display helps pay for the fireworks. He also said that the club wants to “work in a cooperative effort with other groups.”

• Joan Chappelle and Faith Patterson, members of the Village Human Relations Commission, gave a report on the commission’s activities for 2002. They also said that the commission plans to work on its goals for the next year to year and a half.

• Clerk of Council Deborah Benning gave a brief report on the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, which she attended in May. Benning served as a host during the conference, which was held in Columbus, and worked with delegates from the Netherlands, Israel and Northern England.

—Robert Mihalek