Bachelor of Science, Education
Grandview Hts. City Council
2004-2006, President 2006
Grandview Parks Board 2007-present.Chair
Greater Linden Development Corporation; Trustee
Married, 1 daughter in 8th grade.
I think many of the residents believe that the buildings in which the fire fighters, police officers and other municipal staff work every day to serve and protect us should be safe, healthy and modern. Grandview Heights is a small community, which means fiscal responsibility is always a key concern. So I believe that extensive renovations and/or new buildings are likely necessary, which might in part be funded by concentrating operations to enable the sale of some municipal property. That might provide some financial support, but is unlikely to suffice. Additional funds might be necessary and this is where I do see an opportunity to explore options to collaborate with the school district.
The Grandview Yard development is rapidly changing this community, in ways large and small. From increased traffic on Third Avenue during rush hour to a renewed interest in redevelopment of multiple large parcels along Goodale Blvd, some of these changes will be challenging, whereas others are opportunities. Much planning went into the Yard, but this community has not had a serious conversation about the future of the surrounding areas, especially the Goodale corridor between Rail street and Grandview Ave. There are opportunities there to affect the future of traffic conditions and the composition of the school district's population, but those are unlikely to materialize unless there is some serious community planning.
The school district has embarked on an ambitious process to address the deferred maintenance of its buildings. While I believe that this process was generally and genuinely seeking to be responsive to community views, important questions about the financing, sequencing and implementation of the proposed new building and renovations remain unanswered. In general, I believe the school buildings require a significant investment to bring them into the 21st century. However, I also believe that specific options to generate potential win-win options, for example by exploring ways in which the city and school district could share certain spaces, have not been fully vetted. In other words, I believe the school buildings require a significant investment and the city council should generally be supportive of that. Given the desire to maintain Grandview as a socio-economically diverse community, where both retired folks can afford to stay in their home well beyond their working years and young
I appreciate the the strong community involvement that Grandview citizens always show when issues arise.
Melanie was valedictorian of her high school class, earned her BA from Denison and her MS from the Ohio State University
Melanie has spent the better part of her career fighting for clean air and water for Ohio’s families. Last year, she helped secure a landmark bill to better protect Ohioans’ drinking water from lead contamination.
Melanie lives with her husband, Michael, and her 4-year-old daughter, Quinn, in Grandview Heights.
Grandview residents want to see excellent police and fire services maintained in their city. At some point in time a new municipal building will be needed to support those excellent services. Right now the municipal building is so old that it does not function well for the fire department. One example of this is that there is no space for women firefighters to change in and out of their gear. I think that Grandview residents would likely support a new municipal building as long as they are not asked to foot the bill in the form of additional taxes. It is also my understanding that the city is well-positioned to finance a new municipal building in the near future given our healthy tax base, including revenue from the Grandview Yard, and our triple-A bond rating.
As we grow and develop our city leaders must ensure that we are not losing the qualities that make Grandview a sought-after community. The Grandview Yard has provided real economic benefits to Grandview, boosting income tax revenues for the city and for Grandview’s schools. Still, residents are justified in their concerns about how the continued build-out of the Yard will affect the schools, city services and infrastructure. If elected to city council, I will advocate for the city to pursue a vision and strategic planning for our growth and development. This strategic planning should be informed by community input and by actual data and current trends.
The critical fact is that the city is not well-situated to take a position on the school district’s plan. This is because communication and collaboration between the school board and city council has not been strong. I believe that this needs to change. The members of school board and city council should be communicating and working together more closely, especially given the current, high-stakes facility planning process. Such collaboration could lead to efficiencies such as facility sharing and joint financial planning so that our residents are not overburdened by hefty bond levies. I am someone who fully supports school levies in general and our Grandview Schools staying excellent in particular. Yet I am also cognizant of the fact that we are losing economic diversity in Grandview as property values and rent prices soar. We must find a way to strike a balance of keeping our schools strong while keeping our community as affordable as possible.
I am running for Grandview Heights City Council because I want to build upon the qualities that make our community so special. As a mother and as someone who’s spent the better part of her career fighting for Ohio’s families, I will bring a fresh perspective to city council. My top issues on Grandview City Council will be:1. Protecting children: I will sponsor an ordinance to test our drinking water fountains for lead and implement traffic calming measures on streets that need it; 2. Further elevate our community: I will work with community leaders to expand our farmers market into a vibrant community gathering place; 3. Preserving Grandview’s beauty and history: I will advocate for the development of a vision and a strategic plan for Grandview so that we may maintain our defining qualities; and 4. Safeguarding our taxpayer dollars: I will seek a seat on the finance committee in order to ask critical questions and to promote financial planning for the future.
B.A. (1993) - University of Kansas
J.D. (1997) - University of Iowa College of Law
I am current City Council President and am running for my second 4-year term on Council.
I have been practicing law for 20 years and now apply my broad skill set in complex litigation and negotiations to my legislative leadership role.
I have been married since 2003 and have three children ages 6, 8, and 10.
Grandview Heights is known for its exceptional level of services and quality of life. We have prioritized services and meeting residents’ needs even as our municipal facilities have continued to age. I believe a majority of residents—particularly long-term residents—do appreciate the need to improve our aging buildings. The City has made much-needed investments in improving infrastructure and parks over the past few years and it is now time to tackle planning to improve our building facilities for the future. The next step will be for the Mayor's administration and Council to define a process for facilities planning to meet the City's future needs. As part of our initial planning process, we have also reviewed the City’s projected revenue sources and I believe, with further planning and stewardship, the City should have sufficient revenue and bonding capacity to finance needed capital improvements without an increase in property taxes.
The Grandview Yard Development Agreement is already structured so that the existing older parts of the City are not shouldering the burden of new infrastructure and development in the Yard–new public infrastructure in the Yard is financed by dollars generated by the Yard development. Similarly, the School’s negotiated revenue share protects its property tax base from eroding and provides a corresponding increase in revenue tied directly to new residential units. The older part of the community has already reaped the benefits of increased revenue from the Yard: we have been able to build a new municipal pool and complete major parks and infrastructure improvements. Future development will be manageable, as physical expansion is limited by the City’s small and landlocked footprint. Our economic development program and a rich tradition of seamless sharing of commercial and residential uses serve as a proven template for smart and sustainable development.
I believe all our elected officials appreciate the need for our community to maintain a strong independent School District and for the District to develop a capital improvements plan. I maintain close contact with the District throughout its public facilities planning process. The School District and City are different governmental units who are responsible for different operations and who have different revenue sources under Ohio law. It is important for the City and the School District to have a strong, mutually supportive partnership as we engage in stewardship and planning for our respective units of government. Supporting each other does not mean we should confuse or commingle our governmental roles, nor should we substitute our judgment for that of other officials or the public when it comes to voted issues. I trust the integrity of the public process—I believe that government works and the community will make the right decisions for the District and the greater community.
Thank you for making the effort to read this and to be informed for the upcoming election! Local government works for you, and you should never hesitate to contact me or any of your elected officials.
Grandview Heights High School Graduate 1987;
Columbus State Community College Associates Degree 1990
16 years on Grandview Heights City Council, two terms as President
Wife Julie panzera, sons Alessandro (23) and Mario (16)
The focus on the city's capital improvement plan set priority on infrastructure, streets, then our public parks, and municipal pool. In the past several years, we have completed critical infrastructure investments, and badly needed capital improvements at Pierce Field, Wyman Woods, and of course, the fantastic new pool, which opened May 2017. Next, we will commit to city facilities, including our service/streets department, police & fire, and our city hall. This will be a multi-year process to execute, and we will begin this planning before the end of 2017. As with the other recent capital improvements completed, effective development efforts and prudent fiscal policy should fund the new facilities without an increase in taxes.
The strategic conversion from Big Bear Warehouse district into what is now Grandview Yard has certainly been a dominant part of our recent economic growth, but there have been dozens of smaller redevelopment efforts during my tenure that continue to contribute to our community. The affect on the school from the residential units in the Yard was of highest importance, and GHCSD administration was an active participant in that forecasting. Impact studies during planning of potential future residential developments will continue to include the school administration to understand future needs, capabilities, and constraints. As for infrastructure, engineering is required during the early planning stages of any project in order to keep within capacity/supply, and to assess any improvements needed if the project becomes reality.
The city and school operate in tandem serving the residents of Grandview Heights, however, their funding, administrative, and operational mechanisms are completely independent of each other. As the city progresses through planning for the next generation of facilities, efforts should be made to combine like needs and seek the best options for potential shared facilities. Although a school building itself may not be a good candidate for such a venture, ancillary functions and programming/meeting/rec space needs could possibly be optimized with a combined approach. This is a very young conversation, one that wouldn't be possible without the city's stable financial position.
It's been a great journey, and an honor to serve on Council for the past 16 years. I am proud and humbled to work with an outstanding group of dedicated colleagues - it's an awesome team. Together with the combined leadership, fiscal efforts, passion, and vision, our "friendly little city" is better than ever! I hope that I'm given the opportunity to use my next term to continue efforts to make sure that Grandview Heights stays strong and successful for the next generations that will also call it home.
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BA/ MA (Political Science)- West Virginia University
JD- The Ohio State University
Administrative Hearing officer. Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency
Assistant Attorney General (Appellate Division), West Virginia Attorney General's Office
Minority Caucus Legal Counsel, Ohio House of Representatives
Wife, Gina Mazzei-Smith
I have been working with City Council to develop an overall development plan for the municipal building, fire station and police station. The fire station is the building most in need of an upgrade. The city has experienced tremendous revenue growth in the past few years, in particular with the Grandview Yard development. Therefore, new buildings may be planned sooner. This is a top priority of mine. I would like to work on planning these endeavors in the most fiscally responsible and prudent way possible. Investments like these must be accomplished by being wise stewards of the public's money.
Development such as Grandview Yard is vital tot he city, but it must not be done at the expense of the city's character, infrastructure and safety concerns. Presently, there is not a strain on the schools since school population has not increased for some time. Infrastructure is vital to continued development. Infrastructure investment must continue, while being fiscally responsible. Safety is a very significant concern. While we renegotiated Grandview Yard, I chaired the Grandview Heights City Council Safety committee which oversaw needed safety measures around Stevenson Elementary with the increase in traffic. All of the development has included enhanced bike paths, cross walks and greenspace.
The city should not take a formal position with the school district's potential plans. Overall, the city and the schools are two independent governmental institutions. While on council, myself and my colleagues have always been very supportive of the school district and have tried to improve communication between the two governmental entities.
One great aspect about the new Grandview Yard agreement is that the city will pay off the bonds a lot sooner, which in turn, will help the schools finically sooner.
I am always open to any inter-governmental cooperation in programming the city can do with the school district.
My goal in attaining re-election to Grandview Heights City Council is to continue the progress I and my colleagues have made in accomplishing economic growth while maintaining the sense of community for which Grandview Heights is known. While on Council, we have renegotiated the Grandview Yard Development Agreement, providing at least 3,500 new jobs and accompanying revenue to the city as well as millions of dollars in infrastructure while maintaining and enhancing safety and public services. As a member of the Finance Committee, I was able to help formulate the investments for much-needed infrastructure throughout Grandview Heights. I also helped facilitate an agreement to cut the municipal income tax. All of this was done while employing fiscal responsibility in order to help Grandview Heights maintain its AAA bond rating.
As Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Liaison, I fought hard to save a commuter bus line that goes through the city to downtown Columbus that was threatened.