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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Bowling Green officials like questions

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - What can the city do about all the deer on the southwest side of town?

Is the city talking with Bowling Green State University about the school's encroachment into residential neighborhoods?

Could the city post signs in areas where bicycles are allowed on sidewalks?

The questions came one after the other from city residents who were invited to bring their ideas, questions, and concerns to the city administration last week at the third of four neighborhood meetings. The final meeting, intended for 4th Ward residents but open to anyone, will be held at 7 tonight at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave.

City Prosecutor Matt Reger, Planning Director Rick Ketzenbarger, and Patrolman Darin Reinhart fielded as many questions as they could and promised to pass on the ones they couldn't answer to the appropriate department head. Mr. Reger said their goal is to get answers via e-mail to everyone who attended the meetings.

"We're working to try to open up lines of communication," he said.

Mr. Reger said he was impressed with one resident's suggestion that Bowling Green have a citywide e-mail list like BGSU has as a way to get information to residents. When he talked to Lori Tretter, assistant city administrator, though, he found out the city already has one. Residents simply have to sign up on www.bgohio.org.

A long discussion about local ordinances governing bicycle riding ended with Mr. Reger suggesting the city compiles applicable rules and information for cyclists on its Web site.

Mary Lou Riday said she'd been riding her bike in town for years and didn't know she could ride on sidewalks outside the downtown business district nor that she was supposed to get a license for her bike.

"I've ridden a bike for ever. I never knew this. Am I illegal?" she questioned.

The city does require cyclists to get a one-time license, Officer Reinhart said, but the majority of bikes in town are not registered, and he was not aware of police ever citing anyone for not having a bike license. He said getting one is most beneficial if a bike is stolen; it provides proof of ownership.

Andy Layden said his family participates in Bowling Green's "green pricing" program, paying an extra fee on their electric bill to support alternative energy projects. He wondered how those funds were being used or what types of green projects were being considered.

Mr. Reger said he would forward the question to Kevin Maynard, utilities director.

Mr. Layden's next question dealt with an issue that never seems to go away in a college town: Is there any way police can encourage the late-night revelers to be quieter as they walk home?

Officer Reinhart said police respond to complaints and try to do extra patrols in areas where there are problems.

Russ Veitch asked whether the city was trying "to stop the creep" of single-family homes being converted to rental properties.

Mr. Ketzenbarger said more than 12 percent of rental properties in the city are believed to be vacant at this time and BGSU enrollment is expected to drop, which would only inflate the vacancy rate. Still, he said, some single-family homes that owners can't sell are being rented so that they can continue to make their payment.

Before the nearly two-hour meeting ended, Mr. Veitch thanked city officials for hosting the sessions. He said it was a good way to get citizens involved, although he believed the city needed to publicize such events better.

"While the city is saying they want involvement, they're not doing enough to encourage it," Mr. Veitch said.



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