With the “loose ends” of Rt. 58 paving and Lincoln Street sewer re-lining all but tied up, Amherst mayor David Taylor is preparing to say goodbye.
Those projects will likely be his last in the few remaining weeks before he steps down.
“We’ve completed everything else on time, on budget. Now I’m just trying to maintain what we’ve got,” Taylor said.
Now he’s preparing to hand over the city’s keys to mayor-elect Mark Costilow, who found big support this fall at the polls.
“No matter who had won, this transition would be smooth,” Taylor said, voicing fondness for both Costilow and general election opponent David Kukucka, who serves as city auditor.
In recent weeks, Taylor has been conducting a loose kind of “mayor’s school,” going over the details of city business one subject at a time with Costilow, who is safety-service director.
They’ve had a close working relationship for years. Taylor has made a point of showing Costilow the ropes this past term and feels his protege is primed to step into office.
There’s been a special focus these past few weeks on negotiations. In 2016, Costilow will have to bargain with two city unions — the local Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. They represent police and other city workers at large.
“He’s ready. He’s going to hit the ground running. This is a situation where he’s had a whole year to prepare,” the mayor said.
In the meantime, Taylor doesn’t foresee taking any 11th hour proposals to city council unless there’s an emergency.
For his part, Costilow is busy putting together a plan for the first 100 days in office.
“The first goal is the transition is just to make sure there are no hiccups in the services people get,” he said.
The mayor-elect also feels he’s ready for the job, saying he knows Amherst’s departments, personnel, strong points, and weaknesses as well as anyone.
He’s excited to roll up his sleeves, especially when it comes to mapping out construction projects: “For lack of a better term, it’s like being a kid in a giant sandbox,” Costilow said. “It’s a wonderful feeling getting to map out the future.”
On the short list are summer street paving, a second state Rt. 58 asphalt project, storm sewer improvements in the center of town, and the possibility of expanding downtown parking.
Costilow will also inherit unfinished discussions with the Ohio Department of Transportation over Rt. 2 maintenance costs.
This past year, the state agency demanded a six-figure increase in Amherst’s payments to keep up the stretch of highway that passes through the city limits. Costilow and Taylor balked, traveling with council president John Dietrich to District III headquarters in Ashland to oppose the hike.
With so much to do and so much at stake, Costilow said he’s not nervous as he prepares to be sworn in.
And Taylor’s not pining about leaving after 12 years at the helm.
“It’s been a pleasure. This is my hometown. I’ve lived here all my life, practically — it’s been 72 years — and it’s been a pleasure to serve. I’ve done the best I can,” he said. “Nobody’s perfect.”
“You can only do so much. I didn’t want to go into debt. I think we’ve got the most bang for the buck with what we had.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Mayor David Taylor is ready to bow out as mayor-elect Mark Costilow is groomed to take Amherst’s top administrative office.