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The Daily



08-09-03: West Bank residents are fustrated by lack of services
    Several West Bank Road property owners are frustrated with the conditions in their neighborhood, and some think governmental duties are falling through the gaps of city, county and state jurisdictions.
    Property owners near the intersection of West Bank Road and Sugar Street say litter, traffic, crime and property upkeep conditions have steadily worsened over the past few years. The responsibility of maintaining these standards are not being addressed, they say.
    Art Wise, who lives in the Cincinnati suburbs of Indiana, frequently visits the vacation home on West Bank Road he purchased 12 years ago and has been vacationing on the lakeside street for more than 50 years.
    He told The Daily Standard that nearly every time he comes to Celina he deals with vandalism or hears of a neighbor's headaches.
    "We can't even come up here once without something being vandalized or broken into," Wise said, adding that his and a couple neighbor's windows were shot with a pellet gun recently.
    Two years ago someone threw a rock through a back window of Wise's home and trashed the inside and burglarized some possessions. And a similar situation happened a couple years prior.
    Wise said his situation is not unique.
    "Most of my neighbors have been vandalized or broken into," Wise said, adding that an owner of a large new home on the south end of West Bank Road has already been broken into earlier this year.
    Wise said his main concern is the recent problem of no police presence, with regular vandalism, speeding and littering.
    Brian May, a Marysville resident with a home a few doors north of Wise, has not had as high a level of vandalism as Wise, but he sees the area deteriorating.
    "For the city to allow West Bank to deteriorate to the degree that it has is unconscionable," May told The Daily Standard.
    May said his main concerns are the lack of litter and weed control on the bank and the falling-down cottages nearby.
    "There is no reason that those couldn't have been declared a public nuisance two years ago and torn down," May said. "It must be a matter of 'we don't want to make any trouble for anybody'," May said. "Everybody's guilty."
    A uninhabited stretch of multi-colored cottages, that 58-year-old Wise vacationed in as a child when they were called Laugh's Cottages, grace West Bank Road with broken windows and broken or standing open front doors.
    Karen Seibert, of Celina's engineering department, said the city is in contact with owners of the dilapidated cottages there and elsewhere and is pressing they be addressed. The dwelling south of the Sugar Street owned by Curt McCullough's Celina Lakeside Development has been knocked down but Seibert said the equipment Ron Piper was using had a problem and delayed the cleanup. The remnants of a house have sat for weeks on the embankment.
    "I can understand their frustration," Seibert said. "I would like to pursue getting these places taken down and have the city do it and bill the property taxes."
    Wise said his concerns about speeding, trash and weeds fall through the cracks, because the city has jurisdiction over residential properties, West Bank Road is mostly a county road, and the actual shoreline is property of the state.
    Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser said his officers respond to calls there, but vandalism complaints are usually weeks old by the time the police find out.
    "I'd have to say West Bank Road gets more patrolling then other residential sections, to be honest," Slusser said, attributing the high patrol rate to the view and the new developments.
    Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey confirmed Friday that his office is responsible for speeding violations on West Bank Road, or the Ohio State Highway Patrol, but he cannot recall any specific complaints about speeders.
    Grey also said his deputies are also on the road there often, mainly to keep a high presence at West Bank State Park to combat the instances of illegal sexual activity that sometimes take place at the park.
    "We don't ignore that area," Slusser said. "The lay of the land," is also difficult to patrol, with more than a mile of road and area to hide behind houses.
    Wise thinks there is an unwritten plan to allow West Bank to deteriorate. May thinks there is confusion between the governments on who should take charge.
    "Are they purposely turning a deaf ear to the problems at West Bank so things will get so bad to a degree that people would just put up for sale signs and move out?" Wise asks. "West Bank Road is the most beautiful view on the lake, but the city doesn't do anything. They don't clean it, they don't patrol it, they don't pick up weeds. It's like the bastard child of Celina."
    Wise said he and the group of homes to the north including May are highly interested in maintaining the quality of life on West Bank Road and don't plan on going anywhere.
    May said the state has miles of park land next to the road that is full of weeds and complained police don't address speeding.
    "There's not a trash receptacle on that whole stretch of road, there's feces on the sidewalk," May said. "We call, we bag, we scream. It's nuts."
    Local and state governments are collaborating to spend millions of dollars to bring a boardwalk to West Bank Road, "but they don't take care of what they've got," May said. "What they want to get, they got right in front of them already."
    "There's been a lot of money spent on what to do with the lakeshore," he continued. "Frankly I'm not sure that they're going to get it together."
    "Something just doesn't make sense," Wise said. "How do you get anybody in that town to see West Bank as part of the city?"


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