Million Dollar City Street Project To Start August 1

By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor

The project that will use over $1 million to fix and resurface streets in the City of Willard is set to start on Aug. 1, according to Interim Willard City Manager Jim Ludban. He told council there was a preconstruction meeting where the contractor set the start date.

The contractor outlined the work plan and will remain on this project without interruption once they start, he reported. The contract stipulates a work period should not exceed 70 days and does include performance penalties.

Council passed an ordinance for an additional $191,515 to do additional work on Dale Avenue and Maplewood Street.

Ludban told members of council the work will go south on Maplewood to where the cement ends by using the additional funds. It will end just north of Timothy Drive.

Council member Josh Gerber asked Ludban why the work was going to stop where the cement ends for a short distance to where asphalt begins again. He cited the short life of concrete for street surfaces.

“I thought we were going to that section anyway,” Gerber noted. “I thought that was what the additional money was for.”

“The additional money allowed us to extend that,” Ludban explained. “We were going to stop short of Crestwood.

“We got additional Issue I money so we had to ask the contractor if he would do a job change," he added. “For them to start Aug. 1, we had to have that approval.”

Gerber said street work stopped short of doing a whole length of roadway last year.

“We missed these small sections,” he pointed out. “I guess in my opinion, I’d rather do like we did with Woodland. We fixed the whole street. We didn’t cut it off. It seems like we do some things, and if we just went a little further, we could catch that street up fully.”

The rest of Maplewood south, Gerber noted, is in “pretty good shape.” He said he was hoping to do all of the remaining south end work. “That concrete section is terrible.”

Ludban said he has already been talking about replacing panels. That would help eliminate coming off a good street onto the broken concrete.

“We have plans to do quite a few concrete panels this year,” Ludban said.

With the year half over, Sue Johnson, finance director for the City of Willard, said income tax collections are up by 10-percent over what was budgeted.

“Overall, our revenues are five-percent higher than this time last year at this point,” Johnson pointed out. “Things are looking relatively good at this point. Our actual expenses today are approximately 32-percent of our budgets. There are no concerns with wages and salaries at this point.”

Johnson gave a semi-annual update the to investment policy. Budgeted revenue is $117,000. The city has collected over $71,000, which is 61-percent of that amount.

Ludban told council the US 224 Resurfacing Project will be completed by the end of the week. The mobilization and the execution of the work in the project has met or exceeded the provisions of the contract.

“We have received very few negative comments about the inconvenience cause by the project,” Ludban pointed out. “There are a few tidy up things to be addressed prior to the final sign off. We are pleased.”

Ludban noted he has met with ASPEN Energy, the city’s current aggregator, along with another party interested in future contracts.

“I left the meetings understanding that the city and its residents receive more attractive utility rates because of the aggregation agreements in place,” he said. “I am confident that there are additional ways that we can drive greater savings on utility costs by availing ourselves of some of the educational tips offered, free of charge, by ASPEN Energy. We will be pursuing these opportunities with ASPEN’s assistance.”

Ludban also discussed the proposed CSX quiet zone and provided members of council with the Federal Railroad Administration guidelines. The process, he noted, will income some cost to the city.

Members of the safety committee for Willard City Council will meet to discuss the matter. Ludban said he also wanted to discuss some traffic pattern concerns.

With the extremely high temperatures, Ludban said he has talked to Jeff Love, superintendent at the water plant. They discussed the microbe system. Water is tested before and after treatment and there are no algal bloom as far as the system is concerned.

The city will not have an auction this year, according to Gerber. He asked Ludban why citing the first reading of an ordinance to advertise and sell by sealed bid a number of vehicles no longer used by the city.

“I can’t speak to that,” Ludban explained. “There’s no sense of leaving those assets around til next year just because the decision was made not to have an auction.”

The vehicles, which include a 1990 Chevrolet 3500 utility truck with a pump skid, a 1997 GMC 2500 pick up with plow, a 1998 Ford McCoy/Miller ambulance and a 2001 Dodge Durango, are all valued at more than $1,000, according to Ludban.

“We don’t need to sit on these assets,” he pointed out.

Willard resident Donald Shrader brought several concerns to the council meeting. He said his first matter of concern was when the city was going to start grinding alleys and streets.

“The reason I ask is because I see they did a little bit more patching on the alley behind the Post Office and the library,” Shrader pointed out. “You can get through without losing control of the car. I understood it was going to be ground eventually in July, and it’s getting towards the middle of July. I just wondered if anyone had any idea what the project deadlines were.”

Ludban said the street resurfacing project is starting Aug. 1.

“There really weren’t any alleys on it, though,” Ludban noted. “That’s why we keep patching that. There never was an intent to do alleys. Until we get the streets up to where they need to be, I would think we would not be paving. I would be hard pressed to come to council and say I’d like to pave some alleys when we’ve got some streets that are in the condition they are in.

“So, I see us continuing to patch those,” he added. “We go through them regularly. We went through there today and saw that it needed to be patched again. I just don’t see, unless I’m instructed otherwise, that we will be able to grind down and pave alleys. At least this year.”

Shrader said he had spoken to a city employee who deposits the mail in the boxes behind the post office each night. He said the employee had also expressed a fear of losing control of her vehicle when driving behind the post office.

“So the city employees,” Shrader pointed out, “are seeing it, too.”

Shrader also spoke to members of council concerning the Patterson house which was finally demolished. His question for council concerned the garage and whether or not it would meet the same fate as the house.

“The condemned structure was only the house,” Ludban explained. “We have released the lien against that part. The house has been razed. It has been filled in. It has been contacted, and it has been seeded. We’re very well satisfied with that.”

Ludban said the property owner has gotten a building permit to restore the garage.

“It appears that it can be saved,” he said. “They did a good job on the house. We’ll give them a chance.”

Shrader also expressed the appreciation of the Willard Area Historical Society for the work done by city workers to fix the deck and stairs at the box car in the park.

“It’ll be safe for people to make visitations during the summer months,” Shrader pointed out.

The following donations were accepted all earmarked for the Clock Tower Project:

• $100 from Susan and Peter Hazel of Wakeman;

• $100 from an anonymous donor, and

• $5,000 from the Willard Area Historical Society.

Council re-accepted a donation from Mick O’Brien in memory of Royal and Martha Doster. The donation of $100 had been approved at the last council meeting with the wrong name as the donor.

Ludban reported that the city meter reader has been moved to an existing maintenance position. Another candidate was offered the position as meter reader.

“We are in the final stages of appointing a School Resource Officer,” he added, “are preparing for a sergeant promotion board in the police department and have hired several new firefighters.”

The City of Willard is in the process of advertising for a replacement for the code enforcement officer following a resignation.

“This is the first step in determining the future of that department,” Ludban reported. “In the interim, we will continue an existing relationship with Don Eckstein who will perform building permit reviews and inspections and will utilize Dave Arnold as a part-time code person.”

Arnold will be dealing with property maintenance and inspections and violations, according to Ludban.

“The option is cost effective,” he pointed out, “and will insure that both the quality of building inspections and intensive effort in property maintenance compliance will not diminish.”

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