Islands will be off limits
WOODSFIELD — Village leaders recently sent a letter to Mick Schumacher, a Monroe County commissioner and member of the Monroe County Arts Council, informing him that, come January, he will no longer have permission to landscape the downtown traffic islands.
Following the removal of some trees that were planted on the islands located along Ohio 78 between the courthouse and the Monroe Theatre, Schumacher took it upon himself to revamp the islands. He said he was granted permission from Woodsfield Village Council around two years ago. Since then he has used his own money, donations and grant funds, along with volunteering his time, to perform gardening work and plant flowers in order to beautify the islands.
On Thursday evening, Schumacher received a letter that was hand delivered by a Woodsfield police officer. It states no one will be permitted to be in or on the village’s island property in the downtown area beginning Jan. 1 due to the pending Ohio Department of Transportation roadway safety project. Council unanimously voted at its last meeting to restrict maintenance work on the village square islands during the project, which is slated to begin in the fall of 2022.
“When the project is completed you may request through council to have permission to be in or on our island property in the downtown. Permission may be granted annually thereafter,” the letter continues.
Additionally, the letter states that Schumacher could also face citations if he or others impede traffic.
“Due to on-going complaints we are further informing you that if traffic continues to be impeded, vehicle(s) are parked in travel lanes or on sidewalks, U-turns are executed at the center of the square, individuals may be subject to citation from the Woodsfield Police Department,” the letter states.
Schumacher said this is in reference to the Monroe Theatre, where he is a council member. He said they have gained permission to block the alley behind the theater for some of the shows so bands could bring in gear; however, an officer showed up saying he had received a complaint and they were only allowed to block the alley an hour before and an hour after the show.
Also, he said he and others perform U-turns around the islands because there is no signage that states it is not allowed.
The letter concludes by stating that council acknowledges and appreciates the work that has been done to maintain the village property, and would like to continue an agreement in the future once construction has been completed.
“I just purchased $1,100 worth of chrysanthemums, tulip bulbs and daffodils for the spring. That was all purchased with a grant that Gwynn Stewart wrote for the Beautifying the Byway grant. … So I still have all these bulbs to plant — those will be planted before January. Why stir that pot now? It’s all about control,” Schumacher said.
He said the village has never given him any money to help in the island beatification process. Besides the grant, Schumacher has spent thousands of dollars of his own money and donations provided by members in the community to help maintain the landscaping.
Schumacher said he is unsure if he will continue his volunteer work for the village islands after receiving the letter.
“I’m not looking for anyone to pat me on the back, I just don’t appreciate getting mail from the police. I mean you would think the village administrator could communicate with people in the community a little bit better,” he added.
Schumacher posted the letter on social media shortly after receiving it to let the community know what is going on. As of Monday afternoon, the post had garnered hundreds of reactions, comments and shares from residents offering their support and gratitude to Schumacher regarding the work he does on the islands.
One resident wrote, “Mitchell Schumacher has done so much for the community! This is a sad gesture when an amazing individual tries to create beauty and keep weeds out of the garden in life! We commend you Mick for always thinking of others and the community. You are a Godsend and inspiration.”
Others stated they plan to attend council’s next meeting to voice their support for Schumacher’s work to the islands.
When contacted about the letter, Village Administrator Kevin Brooks said the village has no comment on the matter. He said council made the decision to send the letter at its last meeting so that is what was done. Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers, 221 S. Main St.