There are five candidates running for three seats on Upper Arlington City Council. Pencilstorm asked each of the candidates five specific questions centered around issues that impacted Upper Arlington residents and questions that were being raised by fellow voters. Pencilstorm will be posting their complete and unedited answers individually leading up to the election and reposting all their answers together the last week of October. Answers will be posted in order they're received. Our last candidate, Carolyn Casper, is featured below.
Carolyn T. Casper
What’s your vision for a potential Community Recreation Center?
I have been involved with the discussion about a community center for some time. Even though the idea was rejected several times before, the need for a community center keeps resurfacing. I agree with many of our residents that our community needs a multigenerational center. To address this question, a feasibility study is being conducted by a Task Force formed by City Council composed of residents. I look forward to the report from this group. I do hope they see a way for us to have a center. If there is a center, it needs to have something for all residents. I imagine it will look like the centers in the surrounding communities but am very open to whatever results come from the study and then the work of the residents. I have learned there is a misunderstanding and some residents think of a community center as a workout facility. I see it as much more than that. There will be spaces to meet and interact with other residents, space for classes and events, areas for seniors and for small children. I personally look forward to having meeting space that one can book in advance. Perhaps a coffee shop, a year round pool, I am getting ahead of myself. I look forward to the report from the study and to supporting the decision.
Upper Arlington has had a record amount of development this year and continues to have increasing development pressure. How do we modernize our city while controlling the traffic and maintaining the community feel that makes us special?
As a member of the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) Board, I understand that the central Ohio area is growing rapidly and that Upper Arlington is positioned to benefit from this growth. It, the growth, within our city must be carefully planned and thought out. We currently let development happen without much planning. The patchwork quilt method it would appear is how it is currently done. With the expected influx of people, this could be a disaster. We need thoughtful redevelopment. There seems to be a rush to fill spaces without much thought.
Commercial development planning must address the needs of our community. We need a long term plan. In the case of the Lane Ave corridor, we have begun a study. The goal is to have a plan that will serve our city for years to come. There are several other areas in our city that need to have a plan developed as well. Traffic studies need to be completed for all development possibilities. Lane Avenue is very congested every weekday morning and afternoon. The traffic needs to flow smoothly. Mass transit would help relieve some of the congestion. Currently there is no Lane Ave bus to or from OSU. A city wide traffic study should be considered not just project by project. If we get the growth in population we are expecting, the congestion will increase if there is no planning.
The housing issue is another puzzle. The character of our neighborhoods must be maintained. The in-builds need to fit in not stand out. Our zoning laws are much too flexible and variances are granted more often than not. We are asking the wrong questions and we keep getting the wrong answers. The boxes are checked off but what we want doesn't happen. The destruction of our community continues. The River Ridge/ Kingsdale West Study was conducted with the input of many residents and one of their concerns was/is the practice of tearing down affordable homes and replacing them with homes that are priced higher than the average home in the area. In addition, often the new builds are not compatible with the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. These issues were raised but are being ignored. The demolition continues in the area. We depend on the lower priced homes for entry into the community and as places for empty nesters to retire. Those who helped build Upper Arlington should not have to leave the city because there is no available housing for them. There needs to be more design control in addition to what we already have if we are to maintain the character of our neighborhoods.. This takes planning.
When Compuserve was still headquartered in Upper Arlington, local income taxes from that commercial property represented approximately 35% of the City’s income tax revenue stream. Now that the Tree of Life court case is over, what should the city do to maximize that property and significantly boost our income?
The former Tree of Life location is another area that needs thoughtful development. It is the largest piece of land currently available in our city. With the right plan, it will be a great asset. There could be an office park with an anchor restaurant and some green space. The location is excellent because it is on a busy road between to 315 and Route 33 on the edge of the city. The right configuration could allow more of our residents to both live and work in our city. I look forward to discussing the many possibilities with our new city manager.
If there’s one thing you could fix within our parks and recreation, what would it be?
I would like to find a way to make all city sponsored activities in our public parks affordable to all residents. Community pools need to be available to all of the community. Currently, the price is prohibitive for many.
Remembering that Pencilstorm is typically a Rock N Roll blog, we’d like to end with a music question. What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to and why?
I have attended many concerts but the best one so far was the Cher Concert in Columbus several years ago. I think it was supposed to be her last tour but that has changed. It may be my favorite because it brought back so many memories from long ago. I lived in Hollywood when she and Sonny were just starting out. She and he walked up and down Hollywood Blvd on a daily basis and no one paid much attention. Bell bottom pants and big vests. I have seen her since Hollywood Blvd. Once in London. To see her years later brought so many memories rushing back.
Pencilstorm would like to thank Carolyn Casper for taking the time to answer our questions. Learn more about Carolyn at her website: https://www.carolyncasperforua.com/. Pencilstorm is an independent news source and does not endorse any individual candidate.
Local UA Politics coverage provided by Wal Ozello. You can email him at Pencilstormstory@gmail.com or try to catch him at Colin's Coffee.
Check out coverage of all the candidates we've received responses from by clicking here.