Residents and village officials are expressing frustration over a fundraising campaign to rebuild Bicentennial Park in Plain City. The park, which as built in 1976, is surrounded by Main, South Chillicothe and Gay streets as well as Bigelow Avenue in the area sometimes known as the Flatiron.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
Plain City village officials and residents are expressing their displeasure with the way a local group is raising funds.
At Monday night’s council meeting, residents Richard and Shannon Weigand spoke to “express concerns about the Bicentennial Park Commemorative Brick Committee.”
Several meetings ago, residents addressed village council about a fundraising project to help rebuild Bicentennial Park, in the village flatiron intersection of Main, South Chillicothe and Gay streets. The project, sponsored by Abundant Life Fellowship, would allow people, businesses and organizations to purchase a brick for $150. The bricks could be engraves with text. Those organizing the fundraiser have said the money will be used, to repair and replace the park’s platform. The engraved bricks would be installed in the new platform in time for Plain City’s bicentennial celebration in July.
The Weygand’s said they learned of the effort and decided to buy a brick.
“We were informed via a message left on our answering machine that the committee did not consider our family name to have sufficient Plain City historical connotations to it,” Shannon Weigand said. “Imagine our surprise to receive a message basically saying that your money and your support aren’t wanted.”
She added that, “to be denied the chance to support my community is pretty much an abomination in my eyes.”
She said her family has lived in Plain City for 14 years and has extensive ties to the surrounding community.
“We want to make sure that this council knows how this unofficial Plain City committee is operating. They are independently deciding who is and isn’t to be included in this project,” Weigand said. “More importantly, the council needs to be aware that this committee is turning down donations.”
She said that if the committee eventually comes to the village for financial support finishing the project, “the village must consider that this committee is not being good stewards of the village resources by turning down free money.”
Mayor Darrin Lane said he heard about people being rejected.
“I personally was disgusted by it,” Lane said, adding that he appreciates what the Weigands do for the village.
“That’s not how the village operates and we don’t want to be affiliated with anyone who thinks that way,” Lane said.
Shannon Weigand said she was, “in no way placing any blame on the village itself.”
Plain City Solicitor Paul Lafayette said the village was “not aware of any kind of limitations whatsoever that were going to be placed on anyone.”
“I would think if they are excluding village residents from participating in this, the village needs to deny them access to that park,” council member John Rucker said.
Officials said there is another issue to be considered.
“At this point, we have never given our approval for this,” Lafayette said. “There has been no approval given by council or by anyone.”
He said the group was also told the village would need to approve any project and the contractor for the work prior to it beginning.
Lane said village administrator Kevin Vaughn has called the group to let them know the village does not know the future for that park.
“There is no guarantee those bricks will stay there,” Lane said.
Lafayette said the group has been told the village is exploring how long the park will remain.
“We didn’t want people investing time and money into putting those bricks in there and ultimately having them taken out,” Lafayette said. “We didn’t want to do that to them, so Kevin was upfront about it. The mayor and council have been upfront about that.”
He said village officials have not heard back from the fund raising committee or seen any plans.
Village officials said they have repeatedly had problems in the past with this group overstepping policy and approval in the past.
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