On Oct. 3, the Gambier Village Council discussed COVID-19 measures, campus lighting and parking ordinances.
The first topic of discussion was the water waste partnership between the Village and the College. Professor of Biology Joan Slonczewski described how for the past two years, Kenyon and the Village of Gambier have been tracking COVID-19 via RNA in the Village’s wastewater. It is the metric to see if many individuals or even one individual is shedding COVID-19 in the community. Slonczewski and Kenyon students have performed this data collection with a grant from the Ohio Department of Health. Slonczewski said that coronavirus testing should be routine. They believe that the College cannot fully dismiss COVID-19 and should still be concerned about it.
Another issue was the topic of street lights, specifically near the Lowry Center. Council members discussed safety concerns that have arisen as a result of this poor lighting. A solution proposed by one council member is to put four-foot-high pedestal lights on the path, and noted that the problem will need to be addressed quickly as the number of athletes practicing until dark increases. One of the Council members brought up the point that there have been issues of Gambier street lights being out for two months.”[Solving the light problem] benefits not just students who are residents of the Village, but also drivers who are residents of the Village,” another Council member said.
Council members also discussed COVID-19 guidelines and mandates to wear masks in public spaces. Currently, Kenyon students and Gambier citizens are not required to wear masks, but in the event that the county is marked “High” on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker dashboard, masks will become required in Village buildings. Council members agreed that Kenyon students would not be exempt from those guidelines.
Like Kenyon students, Gambier residents are facing problems with parking and the amount of cars parked on private lawns. Dean of Students Brian Janssen asked if the ordinance would refer to long-term parking or short-term parking, depending on different scenarios like parties or alumni events. Mayor Leeman Kessler responded that the ordinance refers to long-term parking, including private properties and the downtown parking spaces. The mayor noted that the ordinance was issued in an effort to make the streets of Gambier look a little less like “used car lot[s].” He also said that there are vehicles that haven’t moved in a long time. Council members proposed one possible short-term solution: filling out a notice for permission to let residents and the sheriff know about events with a large number of expected attendees. There are no long-term solutions at this time, but Janssen is working to find one.