July 24, 2003


Council takes action on bikepath controversy

At its meeting Monday night, Village Council took a step toward resolving a conflict that involves the Village, the bike- path and two local bicycle businesses. However, the resolution involves a restriction which one of the business owners had previously called unacceptable.

After an executive session in which Council discussed real estate matters, Council in public session voted to ask Village Manager Rob Hillard to work with the Village solicitor to bring the lease of Caboose Bike and Skate “into compliance, with the restriction that the business be for rentals only,” according to Council President Tony Arnett.

The action is the first official step Council has taken regarding concerns raised by Village Cyclery owner John Spariosu several months ago about the Caboose’s right to be in business on the bike path. According to Spariosu, when the Village leased the caboose to previous Caboose owners Doug Roberts and Selwa Whitesell in 1991, it violated its own 1986 resolution as well as a 1987 agreement between the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Greene County parks department, both of which prohibit “private installations” on the bikepath right-of-way.

Village Manager Rob Hillard has confirmed that the Village did not receive written permission for the bikepath business and is in violation of the agreements. Kent Bristol was village manager at the time of the transaction.

Previously, Spariosu stated that he did not raise the issue until now because initially the Caboose — now owned by Doug and Chris Roberts — only rented bikes and skates, which did not directly compete with his business. However, in the past few years the Caboose has also gone into bike and skate sales.

The situation has been difficult for all parties involved, Arnett stated after Monday’s meeting.

“I would hope everyone could tell that this is a difficult situation and we have worked hard to work through it,” he said. “Ideally, we would want a win-win situation and perhaps this is not that. Council has shown that it would like to have a business there but not to create direct competition with an already existing business.”

Council chose a resolution that includes a restriction against Caboose bike sales because “we believe that this will not be challenged legally by others in the village,” Arnett said.

The Village’s first step, according to Arnett, is to seek official permission from ODOT for the Caboose business operation. At this point, Council does not know exactly what steps that process will require, he said. Council also has to revise its own resolution, which prohibited bikepath right-of-way businesses.

If the Village receives ODOT’s permission, it will next work with Village Solicitor John Chambers to revise the Caboose contract in a way that restricts the business from selling bikes and skates, and also to develop the “means necessary to enforce” the restriction, said Arnett.

Caboose Bike and Skate co-owner Chris Roberts stated that the action will harm her business, which she has previously stated depends on sales for survival.

“It’s a bad solution for us,” she said.

—Diane Chiddister