City council meeting highlights coyote problem in Kent

Story by: Chelsey Milkovich and Martin Harp

Video by: Jenson Strock

The March 18 City Council meeting highlighted the coyote problem in Kent, as well as favored motions concerning road construction work, creating an online city checkbook viewer, and pursuing and researching sidewalk snow removal alternatives for the future.

James Alekna, resident of Forrest Lake in Kent brought the coyote problem of Shady Lakes to the Council’s attention.

“The coyote presence around Shady Lakes is extremely prevalent,” Alekna said, after spotting the coyote’s take down a deer. “We are concerned for the pets of the city as well as the people of the city. This is a problem that should be taken care of before it gets out of hand.”

Alekna pointed out that a neighbor of his called the city, but there was no response.

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(From left to right) Mayor Fiala, Wayne Wilson, Jack Amrhein and Garret Ferrara review ordinances discussed on March 4, 2015.

“My research tells me that the Ohio State Extension Office addresses that coyotes quickly return after a removal program. Once they’ve got an area staked out, the size of the pack will determine if they come back because they are very territorial,” Alekna said.

Diane Bennett, resident of Shady Lakes Drive, said the deer taken down was located in her next door neighbors yard.

“The deer is currently decaying at this point,” Bennett said. “I called the police department and they said there is nothing they can do about it.”

Bennett also went on to express concern over the coyotes refusal to be intimidated by residents attempting to scare them off of their property.

“Our biggest concern is that these coyotes are not afraid of people,” Bennett said. “I watched my next door neighbor walk outside with a baseball bat in his hand, yelling and screaming, because he saw two coyotes in the backyard and the coyotes were not at all interested.”

Bennett said she has seen the coyotes many different times of the day, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“We definitely have a problem, and although we have all made the decision to live next to a wild life preserve, the property that the coyotes are currently running in is Kent parks property,” Bennett said. “So I think that the city needs to take this problem a little more serious.”

Linda Nickson of Shady Lakes Drive is concerned for the small pets and children in the area.

“One of my neighbors watched a coyote follow his child up the street on the way to the school bus,” Nickson said. “That’s an extremely frightening thing for all of us to have to live with.”

One of Nickson’s biggest concerns is what will happen when the weather begins to change and the coyote population begins to increase.

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Kent community in attendance reviews ordinances discussed on March 4, 2015.

“My greatest concern is that we will be hitting spring time,” Nickson said. “Now we are going to be talking about additional coyotes, and that’s just going to increase the size of the packs. It’s a safety concern.”

Council-at-Large Michael A. DeLeone, lives on Fairchild near the water tower and said he sees coyotes around that area as well.

“It’s more than just a problem in the Shady Lakes area, they’re all over the place,” DeLeone said.

Jack Amrhein, Council of Ward 2 of Kent ended the discussion stating he would get in touch with the Home Owners Association as soon as possible.

Ward 3 Council Wayne A. Wilson requested to make a motion that the administration identify any extra dollars they may have and put it towards road repair.

“I don’t know if anyone’s been driving around,” Wilson said. “But we need a lot of work and a lot of extra money.”

Heidi Shaffer, Ward 5 Council seconded that motion, stating the city of Kent is filled with “car eating” potholes.

Garrett M. Ferrera, Ward 1 Council requested a second motion at the meeting, asking the State Auditor’s office about putting the Kent, Ohio checkbook online. Ferrera said Ohiocheckbook.gov is where citizens can find the expenses made by the state, created by the State Auditors.

“This would give anyone and everyone the change to look and see any check that was written by the state. I think in the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, this is something that we could do easily,” Ferrera said. “I think it would be great for the community.”

Council-at-Large Roger Sidoti said the motion would be great to let the public know what goes on in the terms of what money is spent and where.

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(From left to right) Melissa Long, Roger Sidoti, Michael DeLeone, Tracy Wallach and Heidi Shaffer review ordinances discussed on March 4, 2015.

“A lot of the times we look at our spreadsheets and our budgets and I think a lot of people don’t realize how much it takes and the things that we have to purchase to sustain what we are doing right now.” Sidoti said. “I think the motion is an example of that. We are looking for extra dollars, and those dollars have to come from a budget. Our community would appreciate that; being able to see exactly where those dollars are going from the budget.”

Shaffer issued a fourth motion to look into Ravenna’s sidewalk plowing program, seeking a better way to tackle the sidewalks next winter.

“It’s been a horrible winter for pedestrians,” Shaffer said. “Even though it seems to be Spring is in the air now, we had snow cover for 67 days. Who’s to say next winter is not going to be the same or worse? This creates a hardship for pedestrians. We need to start looking at some alternatives by checking with Ravenna to see how they go about doing what they do – what the cost is. We need to look at what other towns do.”

Amrhein favored the motion. “I can’t tell you how many times I saw young students, college students and older people walking in the street because there was no place to walk on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what we can do, but I think we owe it to them to look into it.”