Pencilstorm Interview: John J. Kulewicz for UA Council

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 second candidate, John J. Kulewicz, is featured below.

John J. Kulewicz

What’s your vision for a potential Community Recreation Center?
In going door-to-door (which is most of what I do in my City Council campaign), the concept of a community center is the subject about which people ask most frequently.  And they ordinarily pose the question in a hopeful way.   

My response is the same to everyone: I am in favor of a community center if there is a suitable location and acceptable way to pay for it.  A highly-experienced Community Center Study Group is at work on examining the subject in order to find and present the information necessary to let the community decide.  If we can find the right place and a fiscally-responsible way to build and manage such a center, I would support it.   

Recreation would be an important part of such a center, in my view, but not the only purpose.  We could significantly increase the space available for meetings, exhibitions, entertainment, lectures, classes and other programs and functions with such a facility.  Our senior citizens, who built this community, also need a new facility. With higher taxes and rising property values squeezing them, this could be a way to give them more value in the community.  And we could help to define the character and future of UA with a community center. 

Keeping up with other suburban communities is a factor, of course, but I do not  believe that it should be decisive.  We have a lot of things in Upper Arlington that are the envy of most other places -- the quality of our homes and schools, the talent of our population, the relative stability of our surroundings and the proximity to OSU and downtown Columbus.  As an already exceptional community with a bright future due to these attributes, we should go about any innovation proactively and not defensively. 

Upper Arlington has had a record amount of development this year and continues to have increasing development pressure.  How do modernize our city while controlling the traffic and maintaining the community feel that makes us special?
The projected growth of Central Ohio’s population to three million people in the next decades will present great opportunities and challenges for Upper Arlington.  Our community will become increasingly attractive to new families and businesses due to the quality of our homes and schools and our proximity to OSU and downtown Columbus.  At the same time, the anticipated upsurge will pose increased demands on our basic city services and the aesthetics that we love here.  

Measures that we should consider to address increased vehicular traffic on the 346 miles of paved roads in UA include: (1) strict enforcement of speed limits; (2) one-side street parking (also a safety issue, to allow unimpeded fire and police access to homes and businesses); (3) development of systems for drone deliveries; (4) more and wider pedestrian sidewalks; (5) sensors that connect with apps to give us up-to-the-minute information as to traffic flow; (6) adaptive traffic signals and other means to improve timing at the fifty-two signalized intersections in UA; (7) more street lights; and (8) preparations for autonomous vehicle usage.    

The City Council can do its part in preserving the essential character of our neighborhoods by careful scrutiny and, if necessary, updating of the development ordinances and zoning codes.  We should always keep buffer zones and step-down areas between the specific commercial corridors of UA and our residential areas. It is no less important that the City Council keep an intensive focus on continued steady improvement of our fundamental municipal services. 

The one thing that we cannot do is fail to innovate.  To take no risks at all under these circumstances would be the biggest risk of all.  The best way to calculate the risks and take the appropriate ones is to engage the community as widely as possible before the die is cast on any significant change.  As one who has conducted most of his City Council campaign by going door-to-door in every neighborhood, I have seen first-hand the wealth of talent, insight, creativity and commitment that abounds in our community.  We have the solutions to the future right in our midst.      

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 Tree of Life property is the largest block of commercial real estate in the City of Upper Arlington.  And the courts have now confirmed the validity of local zoning ordinances and other home rule measures as applied to such premises.   In looking to maximize its future, we need to start by respecting the fact that the land is privately owned.  The City has considerable development tools at its disposal, including targeted infrastructure development and support, tax increment financing and other property tax incentives, development finance programs and additional means.  Because of the huge scale of the Tree of Life property and the unique now-or-never timing, the cost-effective use of these tools in a way that will maximize the net benefits to UA taxpayers should be the top priority of the UA Community Development Department.        

If there’s one thing you could fix within our parks and recreation, what would it be?
As an avid marathon swimmer who owes my love of the sport to the first morning swim laps that I took at the Tremont Pool years ago, I want to find out if there is any reason that the City cannot have a program, in our existing public pools, through which every child in UA learns to swim by age five (a public health and safety issue, because drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children age fourteen and under).  I also want to actively examine ways in which we can create convenient access to the new Quarry Trails Metro Park across Riverside Drive. 

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?
The Rolling Stones concert at Barclay Center in Brooklyn in December 2012.  My entire family was able to go.  If we decide to build a community center, we should play “Gimme Shelter” on opening day.  

Pencilstorm would like to thank John Kulewicz for taking the time to answer our questions.  Learn more about John at his website: Look for responses from future candidates in the coming days. 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 or try to catch him at Colin's Coffee. 

Check out coverage of all the candidates we've received responses from by clicking here.