Noble Township Blocks City's Annexation Request

Managing Editor

In its quest to maintain the Miami-Erie Canal, the city of St. Marys has hit a snag in that effort from a neighboring township.

Noble Township Trustees recently blocked the city’s attempt to annex its portion of the canal that it resides in and the city sent a letter on Thursday asking trustees to reconsider their stance.

“In several meetings that we have had with you regarding the city’s intention to annex the Miami-Erie Canal and our property, which lies in Noble Township, you have indicated that the township did not wish to consent to a request for annexation that would include the canal,” St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan said in the letter. “As you know, the condition of the canal continues to deteriorate and the state has indicated that they have little, if any, intention to maintain or improve the canal.”

McGowan also stated in the letter that the city has worked with the state in acquiring grant money to improve the canal towpath, which is an ongoing process.

“In prior meetings, you have indicated that as a township, you do not wish to make a financial contribution to improve the canal,” McGowan added.

Noble Township Trustee Greg Leffel commented on Friday on the township’s stance as to why it does not have interest in the canal lands to be annexed by the city.

“We have talked to quite a few of our township residents and they are against it,” Leffel said. “And we have to listen to what they have to say because they voted for us and we represent them and that is what we need to do.

“There are just people who do not want to look across and see the city. They like living out in the country and they want it to be the country.”

Leffel added that the township has not looked into maintaining its portion of the canal or putting funds in to improve it.

City officials have been trying to find ways to improve the canal over the years and months, including talking to state officials back in May.

During a meeting with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio) representatives, McGowan said that the city’s main concern is the health and well-being of its citizens. Since the algae bloom struck the area nearly 10 years ago, the downtown area has endured a not-so-flattering stench ever since.

“Businesses down here are crippled by this,” he told representatives.

McGowan said at the time the city was looking into treatment trains and dredging the canal. The state owns the canal, but the city wanted to take it over so they can maintain it. The city was hoping to bump its corporation limit to Glynwood Road, north of town, in Noble Township.

“There is a dam there so we would clean that up where the dam is and the idea is what we would also stop the flow of carp,” McGowan said.

In the McGowan’s letter to Noble Township, he wrote that city officials have also met with the Department of Natural Resources to inquire about the willingness of the state to transfer title to the canal throughout the city and up to Glynwood Road. However, the city was informed that the state is not going to move forward because of the response from interested parties, including the township.

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the city intends, as has been indicated in the past, to continue to pursue acquisition of the Miami-Erie Canal north of the city to where the canal intersects with Glynwood Road,” McGowan said in the letter. “Again, we state our position that in regards to annexation, the city does not withdraw from the township nor do we intend to force any to annex against their will.

“We believe that transferring the above reference section of the Miami-Erie Canal will benefit not only city resident, but also Noble Township residents as well as those in the surrounding area. We ask that you reconsider your position on this matter.”