On Monday night, the Gambier Village Council met to discuss traffic safety concerns, an increase in the mayor’s salary, the installation of three new crosswalks and updates on the construction of a roundabout at the entrance to the Village.
The meeting was first opened to the public to express their opinions concerning daily life in Gambier. One resident voiced concerns over speeding in the Village, noting that many drivers ignore the limit and drive recklessly. “If someone’s hit, I’ll come back and say ‘I told you so,’” said the resident. He also expressed his desire for more deputies on campus, saying he does not presently feel safe playing catch with his grandson in their yard. Other Village residents brought up topics relating to electric vehicle charging stations, utility work on Brooklyn Avenue and tree planting at Oak Grove.
The majority of the Council’s discussion was dedicated to amending an ordinance concerning Gambier Mayor Leeman Kessler ’04’s salary. The mayor left the room for this discussion, as he felt it would be inappropriate to remain. His current salary is $12,000 annually; the newly-approved proposal doubled it to $24,000 per year. The numbers were based on other salaries of mayors in Knox County, as well as in other villages of similar size.
“When we pay the mayor so little that he absolutely cannot live on it in the Village, even as a part-time job, it really limits who can run for mayor,” said one council member. Another council member agreed: “As of right now, only a retiree with a certain level of income can do the job.” This eventually became the consensus, as the main goal in raising the salary was to broaden the pool of people willing to compete for the position. Only one council member voted against the salary increase, which will come into effect next year.
The Council also authorized the installation of three pedestrian crosswalks in order to slow vehicles at the intersections of Wiggin Street and Meadow Lane, Wiggin Street and Acland Street and Meadow Lane across from the Village Community Center. “Our hope is to have those in place this fall,” Mayor Kessler said.
The Council also approved a resolution which gives the Ohio Department of Transportation its support to begin construction of a new roundabout in June 2024, which will be located at the Village entrance where state Routes 229 and 308 meet.
The Council has several topics awaiting future deliberation, including improving its own public transparency, using the Lowry Center for other purposes and more traffic control measures.
The next Village Council meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 2.