BLOG: Keep city hall right where it is

Aug 21, 2012


For some commissioners to bring up moving City Hall once again is just unconscionable when the commissioners voted to keep City Hall right where it is.

I guess some commissioners think they can snap their fingers and the money will just appear at their disposal especially when the city treasurer states there is no money to pull it off, but they still attempt to proceed with the idea. It is ridiculous in itself to say that it will not cost the taxpayer anything.  We have heard the statement before and it ends up costing the taxpayers dearly.

Our city has been through so much with the housing problems, Nuesse, and the Eyman situation that we can hardly catch our breath financially. Getting involved in development projects leaves the city with no time or money to do anything else like fixing up the parks, streets, sidewalks, and the very basics that the city needs to get done.

The idea of moving City Hall has been going on for years and it continually delays the repairs of City Hall.  The city had money to repair the building and they blew every last cent of the money. The pie-in-the-sky projects are strangling the living life out of our city.

All the city does anymore is put out fires and we never seem to make any real headway.  Granted, there will always be fires to put out at city hall, but let us be sensible and proactive about possible fires erupting over and over again and never learning a lesson from them.

It is absurd to trade City Hall for other older and vacant buildings in town. Why would the city take on an older building then it already owns and all the headaches that come with it?  The city should not permit itself to become a dumping ground for every building owner who has a vacant building in town they want to unload. I want to move my city forward, but I do not want to go into a financial hole doing it.

I am not against development. Development is a good thing but not with our tax dollars, ceasing our waterfront property, and using our staff resources to accomplish it. As long as the golden shovel has not hit the ground at 222 Meigs Street, there will always be a last ditch effort to continue the crusade of moving city hall downtown.     

A private committee should not be gathering behind closed doors without some input from the public concerning what is being proposed.  The city is not a private enterprise but rather a government by the people and for the people.

Until next week, thank you for respecting my opinion.  

Sharon Johnson is a born and bred Sandusky resident who's outspoken about community issues. Her blog, chronicling her efforts to keep tabs on city projects, is posted here Tuesdays at 11 a.m.



I cannot wait for the day that you and Tim Schwanger run for office, so we can tear apart every idea you have.  What makes YOU an expert on these issues?  Have you ever run a business?  Owned a business?  Managed employees?  I think the Register allows you to have this blog because you're a squeaky wheel...and their editorial staff - like you and Tim - loves to create negativity and controversy at the expense of progress.

You blog about being sensible and proactive?  That's exactly what the commissioner was trying to do!  It makes NO SENSE to sink millions of dollars into THAT building on THAT piece of property.  It makes TOTAL sense to explore other options so that my children and grandchildren won't be saddled with an aging City Hall on valuable waterfront property. 

What is the long-term cost of fixing up and staying at the current property vs. other options?  How do you know the committee would have chosen moving into an older vacant building in the center of town vs. moving somewhere else?  How do you know we would be going into a financial hole to do this?  See...the problem is, YOU don't have the answers to these questions.  The commissioner was only trying to put a committee together to explore the options.  I appreciate those other commissioners who voted in favor of his motion - and realize the others - like you and Schwanger - really have no vision for moving Sandusky forward.

T. A. Schwanger

   Seems as though SanduskyMom is focused more on her prerequisite of citizens must seek or be elected to political office to share opinions and concerns relative to how Sandusky's government is run. I'd like her opinion on the Recreation Center debacle proposed for an environmentally questioned site one commissioner tried to sell the citizens on.

   What supporters of relocating City Hall tend to forget (amnesia) is a number of improvements to the current building have occurred over the last decade plus****** A number of ADA improvements---installation of an elevator. Relocation of the Commission Chambers to the open area between the north and south wing. Each department office was retrofitted with a "punch key" access panel. Most of the department offices were redsigned and upgraded. New air conditioning and duct work--we are still paying the bill. I'm surely forgetting a number of items.

   I get a chuckle when one moment relocation supporters tab the current location as "valuable property" and in the next sentence claim the property "is not technically waterfront property".

   Upgrade costs and the deplorable condition of police facilities were issues in 1991 and 2006 relocation efforts. The interim Police Chief was kind enough to offer me a tour of the ongoing upgrades to the police department thanks to a $50,000 grant from Cedar Point.

   WiredMama--if you built a house in 1955, would you allow that house to fall into disrepair just so you could build a new one--case rested.


Mr Schwanger......I live in a house built, ironically in 1955.  We rent it.  There comes a time that no amount of fixing can keep up with the times, when even that house needs, perhaps, to be upgraded because you have: 1.  outgrown it.  2.  It no longer fits the purpose for which you first intended it to be used.  3.  You wish a change of setting.  3. You wish to expand and cannot do so in your present location. 4.  Your expansions will cost more than the area supports for the area in which you live. 

Those are all good reasons for case closed.  I used to sell real estate.  These are valid reason for moving.  I would NOT let, ever, for no reason whatsoever, a house fall into disrepair.  Whether through illness, lack of funds or just plain ignorance.  But I also would not stick a bunch of money into a place that I know would be of NO value in the future unless I could reclaim it at a latter time.  That is just plain ignorance. 

I have to agree with you on one point.  I, too, feel that you do not necessary need to hold public office to have an opinion. However that being said, it does not take an official of the city to hold that city back from Progress.

We do not always agree on issues. But I do not agree with you on the "greening" of certain areas nor do I agree with you when it comes to city hall. IF, and that is a HUGE IF, any committee finds that it is LESS expensive to move the city to better facilities then it should be moved.  If NOT then let it stay where it is and expand it.  I have not been in the city jail to take a look in a LONG time for a 'tour'.  I must admit it would prove beneficial to do so.  I have talked with a few officiers who would love to have more room in offices and the jail.  The city offices appear to need more room and I know that the judge has money to expand.  But sometimes expansion isn't always the best option. 

If, however, that fact finding committee sees it as the best opinion, then they should go with the flow and let sleeping dogs lie. 

Again this goes back to how long commissioners sit.  Not long enough to finsh projects started to completion.  However.  I will state that what this City needs more than a new City building is JOBS. 

When is the commission going to face THAT task and start working on IT rather than worrying about what and where city hall is? 


I agree. With Smittys idea of paid parking, moving city hall, deficit spending...what will be next? Raise the income tax? Add a police/fire levy? How about raising the admissions tax?  As a self proclaimed "buisness man", he should be the leader in NOT doing any of the above. I WANT MY VOTE BACK! He will not get my vote again.   


looking into something isn' a crime, and doing so for free isn't either.  Why would a "committee" that is looking into something bother anyone? 

why is it that you are already grousing about something that might be done that you would think "secret' when no one that I have heard has said anything of the kind.  That is such a leap to conclusion is it not?  Thinks do not always have to be done behind closed doors around here. To start accusing anyone of that already smacks of paranoia not worth of a "paid blogger" even by the SR. 

All Mr. Smith wanted was to COMPARE is I remember him saying the cost of remaining vs staying to see which would be better and those who appose because it has been brought up before are off an running to the races.  So what.....let him compare.

It was after being at that meeting that it occured to me where the problem in the city really is......the way our city gets so screwed up. 

Our commissions get started on projects but are not on long enough to finish what they start.  They either get voted off or quit before they finish a darn thing.  That is why this city is in such a mess.  In days gone by this city was lead by men who stuck with what they started.  They stayed on the commission for YEARS and finished what they began.  Not now.  That is why nothing gets done. 

And we are to blame.  Limited times for commissioners.  Nothing getting done is why this town does not move forward.  No one finishes what they start.  Men like Mylander and such where on for years.  They finished what they started and we MOVED....we accomplished.  But not any more.  Think about it. 


It is a futile attempt at the last minute to try and overturn things.  The commissioners can talk about this subject again on October 1st at the strategic planning session, but the votes are not there to move City Hall. There is one commissioner who has had a lapse in memory.  The commissioner should not be talking or voting on anything that pertains to moving City Hall. 


No one was voting on anything or trying to MOVE anything or doing anything.  Has everyone lost their senses?  Or has everyone suddenly lost their ability to comprehend English???? 

The commissioner simply wanted to set a committee up to see what it would cost to move vs fix the existing city hall....nothing more or less

But wow, the minute you say that, every wagging tongue within a five mile county goes uncontrollably off the rail with random thoughts of everything BUT the truth.  No wonder nothing gets done around here.  It becomes innuendo, smart mouthed attacks and outright lies about what is going on......everything but the truth of what was said. 

There are no secret meeting being held, not council being taken, no decisions being made and no voting going on. The whole thing came up to see whether it was more COST EFFICIENT to stay or go.  That was IT. Was it better to stay put and put money into the building as it stands....because a judge has saved up to add on to his offices.

This commissioner wanted to check it out before this judge broke ground.  Then it is too late. 

The SR and this blog makes it sound as if it is a bad thing.  It really isn't if it saves taxpayer money.  If it is better to stay there....then that is what should be done.  If not, they best move. 

No one is forgetting anything.  No one is expecting anything.  But to say more is not only unfair it is inaccurate. 


Okay, Sharon, I respect that you have an opinion even if it's one with which I disagree. But what I cannot and will not respect is the notion that once something has been voted on, the issue should stay closed forever and ever, amen.

If the first vote on an issue settled it for eternity, you wouldn't have a blog here or anywhere else. You'd be slaving over a hot stove, barefoot, and with no opportunity to vote on anything!

Not all ideas are good ones. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be discussed, especially since even bad ideas can inspire better ones. You may be able to make a case for your opinion, but much of what you wrote here doesn't come anywhere close. The only thing it proves is that, with or without a blog, you're still the squeaky wheel, and I personally think you kind of like the sound of it!

Swamp Fox

Can I have my own blog, I never owned my own business or held elected public office, that would seem to qualify me with the Register, oops I don't always agree with them, guess that would disqualify me.


"Pie in the sky projects" .... yeah, kind of like Surf's Up right?

Funny how these people say we have no money for this but we have money for other stupid projects.


Here is the cold, hard facts, folks. Something has to be done, sooner better than later.  The longer it takes, the more expensive it becomes. The old city hall has outdated and inefficient mechanical systems, the windows are in need of replacement, the electrical system needs upgraded, asbestos would need to be removed if any upgrades would disturb it, the police department and courts need more room, etc.

There are many options available. Upgrade the current location, build one new facility that offers" one stop shopping" such as you have now or a court/police facility seperate from the admin side, which could use unused space in the County building downtown, or unused space at the City Complex on Cement Ave., or all or none of these options.

Is location more important or is cost more important. Revamp an older building downtown or build new elsewhere?

Alot of questions need to be answered before anything can be done. Do you use a volunteer committee to look into this or paid professionals? Allow current city staff to make these decisions? Where will the money come from?

Or do nothing at all.


Realisticly, doing nothing with the conditions at city hall is not an option.   The city hall building has been neglected for so long that, in my opinion, the best choice is to design a new building to fit our long-range needs, develop the funding structure necessary to contruct it, and then get busy building.   Since a decision has been made to remain on Meigs Street, let's accept it and move on.   It's important to note that the cost necessary to retrofit an existing building to coincide with today's building code standards could far exceed those costs associated with buiilding new from the ground up.   It's a matter of dollars and sense.   Retrofitting an existing building can be time consuming and difficult, and many times will not be cost effective.  

I think everyone can agree that as a result of societal changes, improvements need to be implemented to assure the safety of all employees and visitors using the Meigs Street facility.   Regardless of the direction taken, we must get moving to maintain this valuable community asset.   I believe the focus should be on taking advantage of the various resources within the community that have the expertise to offer recommendations that will be useful toward bringing city hall into compliance for generations to come.    Every day that we do nothing to improve the situation, it only gets worse.   And, the costs continue to go up.   Let's work together to find ways to continue moving in a positive direction.


The Answer Person

What a blathering blithering idiot.


Weird mama defending smitty yet again. Study has already been done. Upgrade the mechanicals, replace north windows and remodel. Less than 1.5m. Court has the money to make their improvements now. Smitty and his side kick mama need to do some research. 

Trafficman, no asbestos abatement needed for the remodel. The light going north on 250 to sycamore is too slow at 250 and cleveland!  


@fireside....and you supporting Schwanger and company are you?   I am not supporting anyone in particular but you seem to be.  (And please, if you are going to call me out, I would appreciate you do it properly.  I give you that much respect.  The name is wired, not weird. )  Amazing how respectful Mr. Schwanger is and those associated with him are NOT.  How odd. 

But then, again,you probaby don't  have any respect for anyone else since you feel you are the only people who are right about anything.  I simply said the Commissioner Smith wanted to check it out and he got the vote to do so.

What is wrong with that?  Apparenently the majority of the commissioners didn't feel it was that bad for him to at least CHECK.  What is eating YOU?  That he is checking or that you cannot control that?   I don't which is worse, a sore loser or someone who cannot control everything?  

I would imagine that your information is being spoon fed to you by Schwanger and company.  So you are either a Haag or someone from their organization.  either way.  I have no ties to Smither other than listen and have spoken to him twice and NOT about this move other than to hear him down at the meeting.  What I have heard SINCE then is a great deal of MISINFORMATION .....most of it on this blog. 



Fireside, if remodeling disturbs the asbestos, it has to be dealt with. If if isnt disturbed, then it doesnt have to be.


It really bothers me when someone gives MISINFORMATION or states something that is totally unture. 

Case in point the following comment which is taken directly from the comments of this blog.  I do not know where Ms Johnson got this, but nothing was EVER mentioned about a commission such as this being even set up.  This is purely misinformation.  Purely a wrong comment based on absolute  untruth.  No such committee exists right now and that is a shame.  How someone can say such a thing without proof is not right and is just plain wrong.  Knowing it isn't correct is even worse.  Who is on this committee you state is meeting in private?  Who is "gathering behind closed doors"? 

"A private committee should not be gathering behind closed doors without some input from the public concerning what is being proposed. The city is not a private enterprise but rather a government by the people and for the people."

This committee does not exist.   It was a suggestion by Commissioner Smith IF and only if the got permission from the commission to start locating a new place for the city hall VS staying PUT.  As yet, to my knowledge NO SUCH COMMITTEE HAS BEEN FORMED.  

Why is Ms. Johnson so afraid of a fact finding committee?  Does she think they would not meet in public?  Why call them out for not meeting in the light of day already when they have yet to meet or even be formed?????? 


T. A. Schwanger
Register Article:: Sandusky law director warns city commissioners of ethical violations


jasonsinger 12:00 AM
May 20


For the third time in less than a month, Law Director Don Icsman had to stop city commissioners from committing ethical violations.

On Friday morning, at least two commissioners planned to attend a meeting at Sandusky International about waterfront economic development.

At least two other commissioners planned to attend a similar meeting Tuesday, also at Sandusky International.

But according to Sunshine Laws, four commissioners -- a majority of the commission -- cannot attend the same unofficial meeting.

Icsman, the city's law director, said the law also specifies that two commissioners cannot attend one meeting while two others attend a separate meeting if both meetings are about the same topic.

"The Sunshine Book is very clear," Icsman said. "You can't do these serial, round-robin types of meeting. You just can't have meetings about city business like that."

The controversy began when Ed Ryan, CEO of Sandusky International, contacted ex officio mayor Craig Stahl about the meetings earlier this week.

Stahl said he would attend Friday's meeting but wanted all the commissioners invited.

On Friday morning, city commissioner Dan Kaman, who was invited by a Sandusky International representative only after he learned about the meeting from a resident, e-mailed Icsman. Kaman questioned whether the meetings were legal. Icsman shared his concerns.

Stahl, who was already having reservations about the meeting after discussing it with Kaman on Thursday afternoon, arrived shortly thereafter at Icsman's office.

Icsman told Stahl he couldn't attend the meeting, and called commissioner Pervis Brown and told him the same thing.

"I know you're not supposed to poll commissioners, so that's why I contacted (Icsman)," Kaman said Friday. "We all know we should run these things through Don. You have to do things open and transparent."

For his part, Stahl said he only thought four commissioners couldn't be at one meeting. He didn't know about sending less than four to two separate meetings.

He said he was just trying to be available for a local business.

"In today's environment, if a business wants to talk, I think we should listen," Stahl said Friday. "That's all I was doing. I will tell you there was no bad intentions on anyone's part."

Since the city didn't actually violate any law because the meetings did not take place, some officials downplayed the incident. But Kaman said it's part of a disturbing trend.

Last month, commissioner Bob Warner tried to have a meeting with Schirmer Construction to lobby for local jobs on the Hayes Avenue underpass project.

But the meeting was scheduled to occur before the commission officially selected Schirmer, so Icsman told Warner it was unethical.

The commission also violated Sunshine Laws when it failed to take minutes at two off-week work sessions. Stahl took full responsibility, saying it was a simple oversight. But Icsman told the commission it can't happen again.

"This is just another foiled illegal meeting," Kaman said. "Stahl and Warner have tried, but they're illegal. You can't keep doing it........


  I'm sure Ms. Johnson is speaking from past experiences with City Hall.


T. A. Schwanger



Mr Schwanger....with all due respect, Ms Johnson is NOT speaking from past experience she is speaking in present tense about moving the city hall. 

For you to dig back into the archives to defend you friend, while admirable, is off  topic and hardly relevant.  Again, it is misinformation.

My point is justified and is not about what Mr. Icsman told people who are no longer on council nor about an issue that no longer exists.  You cannot make a statement in present tense about something that does not exist and expect it to be correct.

Ms Johnson quit clearly is talking about the CITY HALL and a committee that does not exist as yet that anyone knows about. 

That, sir, is misinformation.  Pure, plan and simple. 

You and your friends may believe what you wish and try to misquote, misdirect or mis-state whatever you wish, but a mistatement of facts is just what a mistatement of facts is. 

Nothing anyone can do will change that except by the writer herself.  She can retract that statement and say she "missppoke" (which shows strength of character) or leave it alone (which is ill advised if she is to be believed again). 

To expect to be "bailed out" by friends is really rather silly.  Why should YOU speak for her. 

Again, with all due respect to both of you, this is her blog, not yours. Let her bail herself out.