Monday, October 22, 2012

Kennedy Heights Arts Center

In case you missed seeing the banner at the corner of Ridge and Section Roads, or missed the event listing on the Amberley Village website, yesterday was an "Amberley Afternoon" at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.  Located at 6546 Montgomery Road in Kennedy Heights, the Center is less than a five minute drive from most of Amberley. It's close enough to walk or run to as well, as I've run past it many times myself. Which is probably what you do too -- walk, run, or drive past without stopping to see what's inside.

FotoFocus Exhibit "Let's Face It"
Yesterday, a gorgeous fall day in Cincinnati, I stopped by to see what the Kennedy Heights Arts Center was all about. From the moment I stepped inside the historic gothic mansion, I was both surprised and impressed. To my immediate left, in what was once most likely the parlor, is a bright and airy gift shop. The rest of the first floor is also filled with sunlight -- which is not something you often see in a house such as this one, which was built in 1875 and was once the home of Lewis Kennedy, developer of Kennedy Heights.

Conway & Stern/McIntosh families with Executive Dir. Ellen Muse-Lindeman

The Arts Center is currently exhibiting the works of photographers Melvin Grier, Michael Kearns, and Michael Wilson, as part of the city-wide FotoFocus exhibition. It is also a participant in the Taft Museum's Art for All program and is hosting a reproduction of Robert S. Duncanson's "Landscape Mural." Last summer it participated in the "Play Me I'm Yours" piano project by ArtWorks.

Community art created with Cedric Michael Cox
The Center sponsors programs for children and adults and also hosts an Artist in Residence. I don't know what took me so long to go inside this neighborhood gem, but I hope that Amberley residents don't wait for another invitation other than this one to stop by for a visit.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Amberley Deer Managemet: Proposed Policy

The Health Education & Welfare Committee has been meeting since May to discuss the issue of deer management in Amberley Village. Historically, this is an issue that comes before Council on an annual basis, with Council being the governmental body tasked with determining how many deer are too many and how to balance the concerns of our residents who like to see deer with our residents who are frustrated by the damage the deer cause to their property. Additionally, Council has had to determine the limit of deer our parks can handle without causing irreversible damage to undergrowth and other wildlife.

The Health Education & Welfare committee began its investigation into the issue by meeting first with experts from the Cincinnati Park Board and the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. From these two entities, we learned that the number of deer in Ohio has exploded in the last thirty years from an estimated 17,000 in 1970 to over 750,000 white tail deer today.  With no natural enemies in Ohio, the ODNR relies on hunters to keep the number of deer in check with approximately 250,000 deer harvested by hunters annually. Another 25,000-30,000 are involved in deer vehicle accidents.
The Committee also met with the city manager and chief of police of Wyoming, Ohio, as well as sought input from our own Amberley Police. Several residents attended most meetings and also provided valuable input.

The goal of the committee was to develop a policy that will maintain a deer population at a level that is acceptable from a safety and nuisance perspective as well as to ensure a healthy deer herd and continued sustainability of other wildlife and plants in Amberley Village.
Two documents were presented at the October Council meeting. First is a historical summary of the rising deer population in Ohio, as well as information collected from the informational meetings related to deer management. This document will be prominently published on our Village website and includes citations to the Minutes of each meeting which will be linked to the main document. Additionally, it was the desire of the committee to educate our residents about different varieties and species of plants that are often known to be unpalatable to deer – although, as we learned deer will eat anything, with the exception of honeysuckle – one of our most invasive plants – when they are hungry enough – so a plant chart is included in the document.  Finally, going forward, Amberley Village will continue to keep records of deer vehicle accidents and property damage with the aid of an online form that our residents can access for self-reporting.

The second document  is a Resolution to Establish a Deer Management Program. In years past, Amberley had no codified deer management program in place. Each year the HEW committee met and determined, by Resolution, how many deer would be culled in that year. This method is fraught with the potential for mismanagement, as Council members can feel pressure from residents to cull more or fewer deer by virtue of the issue being left to elected officials. The deer management policy put forward in this Resolution takes the politics out of the job of deer management. Deer management is a health and safety issue, and as such, it should be relegated to our Amberley Police department.

Going forward, the police will be permitted to cull up to 50 deer per year without additional approval by Council. If evidence suggests that more than 50 deer should be culled, then approval by Council will be required.
Furthermore, a more accurate method of counting the deer will be used than has in the past. Thermal imaging technology will be used to count the deer every third year, beginning in 2013. Because this is more expensive than a helicopter count, the Village Manager will try to pursue an agreement with the City of Cincinnati which owns French Park.  Deer culling will continue to be done by trained sharpshooters. We are aware that other communities are implementing bow-hunting programs, but our police feel strongly that the potential for accidental injury is too high of a risk.

Finally, our residents should know that the committee takes the issue of deer culling very seriously. We realize that it is a sensitive issue and that there are residents who feed the deer and enjoy having them in their yard. We will continue to monitor the program and provisions are included in the policy to allow for resident input and future evaluation of the deer management policy.

This Resolution will be brought before Council for a vote at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on November 12, at 6:30 PM. Residents are invited to attend the meeting and express their opinions on deer management in Amberley Village at that time.