By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
The 17 street segments that have now been repaved represent the largest resurfacing project in the history of the City of Willard, according to city manager Jim Ludban.
“The final inspection is scheduled to occur later this week,” Ludban told members of city council. “The contractor has been easy to work with, has loaned equipment and worked with city forces as we have supported the project.”
Ludban cited former city manager Shawn Tappel’s vision and council support in using the money to fix the streets and pay the loan back in 10 years. The project was done on time and estimated to be at or near budget.
Ludban said the county engineering committee of the Ohio Public Works Commission met on Oct. 12 to review submitted projects for 2018.
“Our Pearl Street repaving project was the highest rated project," Ludban told members of council. “The requested funding, $70,000 Issue I grant, and a $14,000 Issue I loan was approved at this level. We will next present this project at the District 9 meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 19 for further consideration.
“Additionally, Huron County Commissioners advised me that they are appropriating another $20,000 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding towards our project," he added. “Obviously, this generous gesture will free up our own resources toward another project.”
Council member Michael Elmlinger said the safety committee discussed the contract for fire and EMS service with the townships. He said Ludban is recommending the contracts be for a longer term agreement of three to five years. The arrangement would not include the township ownership of any of the equipment but would include an equitable arrangement that continues the townships’ responsibility of approximately 33-percent of EMS operations.
“Reports show that this bears out,” Elmlinger noted. “The City of Willard, 67-percent of the time are in-town service calls for fire and EMS. Approximately 33-percent goes to the townships. It’s fair and equitable.”
Ludban told council he has met with Star of the West and AEP regarding a screening barrier issue between the industrial and residential areas at the flour mill. The pre-existing barrier has since been removed, and the city had received calls concerning the lack of the barrier which is required by ordinance.
Jim Schiffel, who lives at 618 Woodbine St., presented a request to members of city council to vacate an alley between his home and that of his neighbor at 522 Woodbine St.
Council member Josh Gerber asked Schiffel if there was a lot of traffic going through that area.
Schiffel said there was not much traffic in the alley due to a tight turn from a fence and a pole. In some weeks, he noted, there might be two or three vehicles in the alley. Other weeks, there might not be a single vehicle.
Council member Jim Johnson said he had a question concerning the closure and how the alley is actually closed to traffic.
Ludban said there are no utilities in the alley. Department heads said there is no reason to keep the alley open.
“If it’s closed at the end of the alley, the property owner can erect a barricade,” Ludban explained. “We will put a sign there saying alley closed or alley vacated.”
Johnson asked Schiffel of his plans for the alley if it is vacated by the city.
“I plan to put a fence there, north and south,” Schiffel said. “I’ll keep it back at least three feet so that I’m off the alley.
Gerber asked Ludban if the request has to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“The ordinance is vague,” Ludban pointed out. “There is no reference in going to the Zoning Board of Appeals. I have not vacated an alley since I have been here.”
Terry Arnold, city council clerk, said the only thing Schiffel needed council’s “blessing.”
The property must be surveyed, she said. When that is done, and the city gets the description, Schiffel brings that back to the city and legislation will be drawn up for a vote by members of council. By coming to council, he avoids going through a lot of procedures for council to turn down his request.
“When it’s surveyed, does the actual property change sizes?” asked Johnson. “How does that work?”
Ludban said the area is split down the center between the two adjoining properties. It will also be in the new description that will have to be recorded.
“Property owners are responsible for the survey,” Ludban said. “Property owners are responsible for getting it recorded after council deals with it.”
Council accepted a letter from Poggemeyer Design Group. Ludban said the letter goes back to the original water plant agreement.
“There were questions about the price and the work that was being done, the quality of the work being done,” he told council. “We challenged it, and they lowered the price. We challenged it because we weren’t getting what the contract called for, and this was their response.”
According to Ludban, the letter offered an apology and some additional project work, at no charge. The company also asked the City of Willard consider using Poggemeyer Design Group in the future.
Council members accepted the following donations to the Clock Tower Project:
• $250 from Britton Devier;
• $350 from Ricky and Victoria Branham, and
• $200 from an anonymous donor in honor of Wade Eden’s 80th birthday.
Council members also accepted a donation of $119.20 collected from a DARE fundraiser for the DARE program.
Members of city council went into executive session to discuss the resignation of a city employee. No action followed.