Highland Heights officials planned to vote on a proposed gas well lease Tuesday night, but decided more discussion was needed concerning potential wetlands in the city park.
An overflow crowd of more than 150 residents gave them a lot of other issues to consider.
Many attended in response to a flier circulated by Amy Feran and Love Our Green Space, which ran a petition drive in 2008 for a charter amendment to prohibit park land from being sold or leased without voter approval.
That amendment was approved by 73 percent of voters, but city legal counsel John O'Neill said it does not apply retroactively to the lease that had already been signed.
Several residents reminded city officials of that charter amendment and were surprised that gas wells were still being considered for the park.
"I thought it was over and done when I voted in 2008," Nick Chiro said.
Others expressed concerns about potential contamination of drinking water and parents said they wouldn't feel comfortable taking their children to the park because of potential risks.
Christy Scholdberg said she recently moved to Highland Heights in large part because of the park.
"The well is a big issue to for us and we're not certain if our future is here," she said. "We're all watching your next move and we all plead that you do not let this happen."
Council President Cathy Murphy assured residents that a vote on the lease will not take place until March 27 at the earliest. She said before public comments began that negotiations were taking place with Bass Energy regarding proposed site number one, which is near the tennis courts and might be on wetlands.
Murphy said that if that site is on wetlands, city officials want to move that gas well into an adjacent parking lot. The second proposed site is in the back of the park, near the old pool house, and wetlands is not an issue regarding that location, according to Murphy.
However, Feran, LOGS spokeswoman, questioned why the wetlands issue was a concern now when that matter was brought up as early as in 2007.
"After ignoring the issue for more than four years, council is suddenly concerned about the wetlands?" she said. "I'm sure having a chamber full of angry residents has nothing to do with it, right?"
After listening to 1 1/2 hours of comments, Murphy closed the gas well discussion by emphasizing that no decision has been made regarding the lease.
Following the meeting, she said council members will take residents' comments into account when considering their next step.
"Of course, we are listening to what they are saying," she said.