Managing growth is a key concern in council race

Several candidates cited a desire to maintain Columbiana's small-town atmosphere.
COLUMBIANA -- Controlling city growth and improving its infrastructure are priority issues for city council candidates.
Six candidates are vying for three open seats. The only incumbent seeking re-election is Matt Weikart. The other two whose seats are open, Leonard Pritchard and Joyce Alcorn, chose not to seek re-election. Pritchard and fellow councilman Bob Hum II are running for Fairfield Township trustee. If Hum, whose term is up in 2003, wins that race, council would appoint his replacement.
Council candidate Geoffrey Parsly said it is important to accommodate the rapid growth of the city as much as possible without sacrificing the small-town ambience that makes Columbiana a desirable place to live.
Census: Columbiana eclipsed the 5,000 mark in population with 5,635 residents in the 2000 U.S. Census, a 13.6 percent increase over 1990 figures.
Parsly said city officials must work together to "plan our expansion carefully, properly support and upgrade our existing infrastructure and make the best-informed financial decisions we can."
Candidate Pat Keylor also expressed concern about the city's rapid growth. She said the city must grow at a pace that will maintain quality of life for the residents and prevent problems with utilities and public services.
Parsly, with a background in computer technology, said city officials should use the Internet more to research grants and other funding sources. He wants the city to have an informational Web page as well.
Utilities: Weikart said the city must control growth to maintain the small-town feeling of Columbiana. He said a major project for the council will be financing a new water and sewer plant that can handle city growth.
He estimates that such a plant will cost about $20 million. Developers should be required to pay a fee that would be used for infrastructure improvements, he said.
Candidate Donald Vignon said improving the city's infrastructure would be his priority if elected. He said city officials should extend city utilities to homes and businesses already in the city limits before annexing more land.
Candidate Devin Witt said the city must continue to improve its infrastructure to keep up with growth.