GREEN  Voters in Green will decide to either re-elect Gerard Neugebauer or Ward 4 Councilman Matthew Shaughnessy in what has been a heated mayor's race.

Neugebauer has been involved in Green for nearly two decades when he accepted an appointment to the Green Design Review Board back in 2000, serving two years. He then served an additional eight years on the Green Planning and Zoning Commission. Neugebauer also served four years on City Council before becoming mayor.

Shaughnessy is a former police officer, firefighter/paramedic, project manager and he is a practicing attorney and city councilman.

GERARD NEUGEBAUER

How do you plan to balance new housing development and green space in the city?

There has been modest growth in housing in Green over the last 10 years, with about 60 new houses now being constructed annually. We are also seeing higher demand for condominiums, apartments and senior housing as the baby boomers are steadily transitioning to senior citizens. While our zoning code preserves a modest amount of green space in new developments, we occasionally have great opportunities to preserve quality green space, like we did when we purchased the 147-acre Raintree Golf and Event Center. We also added 20 acres of land, acquired as part of the NEXUS settlement, to Boettler Park and accepted a donation of 7 acres of land from the Rayl family to provide neighborhood recreation and trail connections that preserve green space and promote health and fitness in our community. We will continue to limit commercial growth near residential areas to preserve the high-quality neighborhoods in our community. We did that in 2018 when we stopped a Meijer Store from being built at the corner of Arlington Road and Boettler Road in the highly residential area that includes the Spring Hill development. We will continue to strive for this balance through community engagement in our Long Range Land Use Plan update process.

What are your plans for improving infrastructure in the city?

The city has a well-established plan to improve our infrastructure in the next four years. In the last four years, we made significant improvements to reduce congestion on Massillon Road by adding a right-turn lane to Boettler Road and an extra left-turn lane from Corporate Woods Circle to Massillon Road. We were also able to improve several congested and dangerous intersections in the city with roundabouts that have been proven to save money, save time, save fuel and save lives. In the next four years, we will be able to complete two large federally-designated and federally-funded corridor projects along Massillon Road north between I-77 and State Route 619; and Massillon Road south between I-77 and Boettler Road. We will continue to address congested and unsafe intersections by ranking the priority of each project and funding them as quickly as possible. And we will continue to designate $3 million annually to aggressively resurface our major roads and all neighborhood streets.

How do you plan to attract more jobs to the city?

Green is an attractive community where people feel safe living and working. Although our population growth has been minimal in the last 10 years, businesses increasingly want to locate here and provide services that were unavailable to our residents just 10 years ago. We are also starting to see a number of technology companies, such as Glass Door, expanding their workforce in our city because of our educated, reliable workforce and attractive location in Northeast Ohio. The growing number of quality restaurants has been one of the biggest changes in Green over the last 5 or 6 years. Our residents now benefit from being able to shop, dine and recreate close to home. Due to our steady, careful development, many of us now can also work close to our homes in Green, something that was unlikely just 27 years ago when we first became a city. But most important to attracting new jobs in Green is keeping our city uniquely Green, avoiding the mega-streets of Belden and Montrose and preserving the quality neighborhoods in our city. The Massillon Road improvements projects are vital to this vision by improving traffic flow efficiency and reducing congestion while providing a safer, more attractive, and more distinctive transportation corridor.

What can the city do to increase its diversity?

My goal is to engage our residents so that all will feel welcome to participate in our community and contribute to our successes. This inclusion welcomes all races, genders, relationships, ethnicities, religions, incomes, ages and special needs such as Autism. Councilman Rocco Yeargin and I began the initiative early this year with small, inclusive focus groups within our individual homes. In these focus groups, we shared our unique experiences, our hopes, dreams and what each of us felt an inclusive community looks like. We have since formalized the Initiative for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, a growing committee led by Green residents who are committed to bringing our community together for the benefit of all. We have also designated the city of Green as an Autism-friendly community, another positive step towards inclusion. We would love it if you would join us in these efforts. Would a community that respects and engages all of its residents attract a more diverse population? Perhaps it would, but it would most certainly be a benefit to us all.

MATTHEW SHAUGHNESSY

How do you plan to balance new housing development and green space in the city?

To strike a proper balance between new housing development and green space, I plan to enforce our zoning code. The zoning code reflects the city's long-range land use plan, which sets the stage for future growth. The plan contemplates areas of our city that should stay open and rural while providing space and opportunity for each and every type of housing development. It permits higher density development where infrastructure already exists.

The problem we face now is that developers want to maximize profits by squeezing more and more lots per acre, so they come to the city to request a zoning code change. The developers aren't to blame though, the blame sits squarely with city leaders who fail to enforce the zoning code time and time again. This is one area where I differ greatly from my opponent. My opponent has served this city on the planning and zoning commission, City Council and now as Mayor, and in each position, he has supported zoning changes and high-density development in areas it was not intended. As a result, taxpayers end up on the hook for infrastructure improvements that must catch up with the development that could have been avoided. My voting record on council has been to enforce our zoning code and protect the open and rural character of our city and as mayor I will continue to do just that. In fact, and here is another point of difference, I don’t accept campaign contributions from developers, so I will never be conflicted when it comes to enforcing our zoning code.

What are your plans for improving infrastructure in the city?

Infrastructure improvements are happening in Green, county projects to extend sanitary sewers are a good example. On the city level, we need to address traffic congestion, stormwater issues, connecting neighborhoods to points of interest and high-speed internet.

Regarding traffic congestion: Roundabouts, if done right, can help, but not every traffic issue can or should be solved with a roundabout. I’m especially concerned with the five additional roundabouts planned on a one-mile stretch of Massillon Road. I will review these and consider alternatives.

Stormwater is a problem in Green and we need to invest in more and larger water retention basins to start. I don’t think it’s acceptable anymore to blame the rains, our stormwater improvement solutions need to be ahead of the curve.

When it comes to connecting neighborhoods to points of interest in our city my approach couldn't be more different than my opponent. My opponent developed a master trail plan that proposed trails through resident's backyards and neighborhoods which could require the use of eminent domain. I, on the other hand, am a bit more traditional. I think we need to connect areas with sidewalks and keep our backyards for our own quiet enjoyment. We should start in areas we identify as dangerous, then progress forward. Trails are more prone to degradation and we already don’t keep up the maintenance on the few we have. Sidewalks require less upkeep and keep people out of your back yards.

Affordable high-speed internet like the internet service in Fairlawn is something I want to pursue as a priority. It’s a “must have” to attract new high paying industries to Green.

How do you plan to attract more jobs to the city?

We need to actively market Green to businesses nationwide. We need to pursue business that are looking to expand and sell them on the great amenities we have. We have great highway access, airport access, two large universities for young talent, fantastic schools and parks. We have 360 acres of land zoned industrial and designated a foreign trade zone near the airport. This land is virtually undeveloped so I plan to pursue businesses that will benefit from the foreign trade zone and bring in more revenue to the city.

What can the city do to increase its diversity?

We should provide opportunity and encourage people of diverse backgrounds to take a seat at the table by joining city boards and running for local office. On the city level, we should remove any practice that creates bias in our hiring, retention and promoting of employees. And we should work with our other stakeholders, like church organizations, to embrace diverse populations to let them know, all are welcome in Green.