City Council revisits parking concerns, discusses arcade games and landlords’ concerns

Kate Bigam

Councilman Garret Ferrara began last night’s Kent City Council committee meetings with a casual “Happy spring!” before the group launched into discussion about parking, arcade games and local landlords.

The Health and Safety Committee, led by council members Carrie Gavriloff and John Kuhar, facilitated a discussion on neighborhood issues, including parking problems within the city.

Safety Director William Lillich revisited the council’s January decision to ban parking on North Willow Street between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., which Ward 6 councilwoman Beth Oswitch said had become a problem.

“10 p.m. is too early,” Oswitch said. “This came out of two people complaining to council and council passing (the parking ban) that night, not going through the petition process.”

She recommended the ban start at midnight or 1 a.m., which Lillich said seemed too late. Instead, he said, council could consider issuing neighborhood parking permits to North Willow’s residents that would allow them to park on the road during restricted hours.

“By eliminating parking in one block, we may just be displacing it to the next,” Lillich said.

City Law Director James Silver also presented the council with legislation from the City of Tallmadge that requires all arcade games and games of skill to be monitored by independent testing companies.

An application has been submitted to the City of Kent to establish a new skill-games facility, Silver said, and the Tallmadge legislation could be put to good use in Kent. Any machine that offers cash prizes for games of skill will be monitored to reduce the possibility of gambling.

“If you have a chance of receiving cash back, we’d like to regulate these,” Silver said, explaining that the state of Ohio differentiates between skill games and gambling based on whether the winnings are earned due to skill or chance.

Under the Health and Safety Committee, council also discussed landlord/tenant issues such as waste, litter and overcrowding.

Ward 5 councilman Ed Bargerstock expressed concern that when tenants violate waste and litter laws, their landlords are penalized. He cited an example of one landlord who said his tenant spread feces on the walls and dealt drugs from his rental home; Bargerstock said the landlord did not report the tenant to the Kent Health Department for fear of being punished himself.

“I’m just looking for legislation we can do to help these people,” Bargerstock said.

Kent Health Commissioner John Ferlito said although he’d like to speak to landlords with such problems, it is primarily their responsibility to handle such issues with tenants.

“It’s the owner’s responsibility to invoke this lease,” Ferlito said. “It’s their job to enforce that contract. It’s not my job to enforce that contract.”

City Manager Dave Ruller said he wants landlords to feel comfortable providing input to council on any issues they may have.

“They’re concerned city council is going after them,” Ruller said. “We’re not. We’re anti-problem properties.”

Ruller said by collaborating with students, landlords and community members, he hoped to create a list of rental properties potential tenants could trust to form communicative relationships with.

Contact public affairs reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].