MOUNT VERNON — It’s election season, and that means political signs are popping up all around the city and county. Voters will be deciding on many issues on May 4, but it’s the candidates that stir up the most interest — especially when it comes to the signs.
The city of Mount Vernon has an ordinance on the books concerning the placement of political signs within the corporation limits. That law sets the timeframe, the location and the size of the signs placed around the city.
“This time of year, we’ll usually get some calls about the signs,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis. “It’s a zoning violation if the signs are too large.”
Signs placed in the city must be no more than 6 square feet, usually 2-feet-by-3-feet. Most townships allow signs up to 4-by-8 feet, much bigger than the city. Signs in the city cannot be illuminated, cannot cause any safety or visual hazard, cannot be affixed to any public utility pole or tree, and cannot be located within the public right of way.
“They can put them up 45 days before the election and have to get them down three days after. People are usually pretty good about that. Mostly, the problem comes because they haven’t read the city ordinance or do not know where the city limits are,” Mavis said.
When the city receives calls about illegal signs, the safety-service director will take a look at the sign, then, if it is illegal, contact the candidate and ask that it be removed. The candidate can be fined for a zoning violation if the sign is not removed in a timely manner.
In other matters,
•Mavis said officials talked with an engineering firm about applying for transportation enhancement funds to rehabilitate the bowstring truss bridge in Foundation Park. The 130-year-old bridge was manufactured by the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. out of Canton, but many parts of the arch were from the Phoenix Bridge Co. out of Pennsylvania. The application deadline for the Ohio Department of Transportation matching funds is May 1. Mavis said it will probably be 2012 before work can be done on the bridge.
•City officials met Monday with the owners of Central Ohio Eye Surgeons on Yauger Road. The two groups discussed the proposed crossover road near the hospital and how it will affect the entrances to the surgical center. Mavis is hoping the project will go out for bid soon.
•Bids will also be accepted this week for the Community Development Block Grant projects in the Sychar Road area. The projects include sidewalks on Sychar, Wooster and Pleasant streets, as well as the paving of the parking lot near the pavilion at Hiawatha Park and the creation of a parking lot in the wooded area north of the pavilion. Mavis said the bid from Thomas and Marker Construction of Bellefontaine was accepted for the improvements to the infant pool at Hiawatha Water Park/Pool. The $29,200 project will include a frog slide and spraying fountains in the infant pool area.
•The recreation board hired about 90 people, including 41 lifeguards, for this summer’s work at the water park. Jobs include cashiers, maintenance workers and concession stand workers at the water park. There will be two shifts a day, seven days a week.
•City officials and council will meet with the Mount Vernon Board of Education prior to the council meeting Monday. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the middle school library.
•Mount Vernon closed on a deal to acquire 3.116 acres of land at the east end of Foundation Park. The property, which cost $15,000 per acre, will include the abandoned railroad and give the city an opportunity to hook up the Kokosing Gap Trail with the Heart of Ohio Trail sometime in the future.
•Mavis said council will consider Monday legislation that would allow for an antenna to be placed on the water tower for Open Range, a wireless Internet company out of Colorado. Mount Vernon is one of several rural cities, through a federal pilot program, that will be hooked up to this wireless service. Mavis said he has also talked with a local company about the use of city buildings for wireless antennas.
•Mavis recently met with Tracy Bond of ESOP, a company that helps residents avoid foreclosure on their homes. The company has an office in Mansfield and is looking at helping residents in Knox County.
•On Monday, May 24, the city will honor the Kiwanis Club for its gift of $12,000 to help build the pavilion/rest room at Foundation Park. There will be a ribbon cutting, officially opening the restroom, that day at noon.