Bath Town Council votes againstabandoning part of Liberty Street
The Bath Town Council voted unanimously to reject a proposed ordinance to abandon a portion of Liberty Street at their Monday, March 5 meeting.
Town Clerk Margie Allgyer reported that she had received a telephone call from Attorney Bill Harmison before the meeting. Harmison told her that St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church would only be interested in the land if the council passed the ordinance as originally written.
At the January 16 meeting, Harmison, representing the church, introduced a proposed ordinance asking the town to vacate the unpaved portion of Liberty Street next to St. Vincent de Paul. Council heard arguments for and against the ordinance at their February 5 and 20 meetings.
They had planned to amend the ordinance to stipulate that the land remain unimproved "green space." After Harmison's notification, the council voted down the ordinance.
Snow removal enforcement
Mayor Susan Webster presented a proposed ordinance that, if passed, sets fines and fees for property owners
who fail to remove snow and debris from sidewalks in a timely manner. The current ordinance, passed in 2000, mandates that property owners must remove snow or accumulated debris, but does not specify fines.
The new ordinance was requested by Police Chief Jim Minton last month. He said town police received numerous telephone calls about sidewalks that had not been shoveled after a snow storm.
The draft ordinance would allow police to issue $100 citations to violators. In addition to the fine, Town of Bath will charge a $50 fee per-man-hour, if town workers have to remove the snow or debris from a sidewalk.
Council held the first reading of the ordinance. A second reading and public hearing will be held at the March 19 meeting. A copy of the proposed ordinance may be reviewed at Town Hall.
Brian Martin reported to council that 65% of the waterline project is complete. Work this week will take place on Independence Street between Harrison and South Laurel streets.
Pot holes at the intersection of Mercer and Market streets and on Green Street will be filled. It is too cold for asphalt plants to make asphalt, so street repairs are still temporary.
An issue that will need to be resolved is whether the town or contractor is responsible for replacing a series of faulty water valves on the old water line.
The valves need to be replaced in order to turn off water to the old line once the new line is completed. A meeting will be set up between council, Thrasher Engineering and contractor Cowgirl Up.
In the case of Dennis Unger's problem with his water bill, the council decided to waive a $93 charge caused by a leak in a section of polyethylene tubing used to extend his pipe to a new water meter. The town will replace the tubing with copper pipe.
"We felt it was the right thing to do," Mayor Webster said.
Councilman David Crosby added, "In this particular circumstance, we made the decision to adjust the bill."
Unger, 88, and his son-in-law Thomas Lang, appeared before council last month requesting relief from the bill.
Webster said she knows of 16 cases where existing water meters have to be moved. These meters are located in basements, or in locations that are not easily accessible. The meters need to be moved to comply with the State Public Service Commissions rules. The work will be done by the contractor using copper pipe. The contractor will warrant the work for two years.
The council approved the Farmers Market request to remain on Fairfax Street. After meeting with market representatives, Chief Minton recommended that the plan be approved by council.
The plan calls for the Farmers Market to set up on the south side of Fairfax Street, east of Washington Street. Vendors will park on the north side of the street.
During market hours, Fairfax Street, east of Washington Street, will be closed to all traffic except emergency and fire vehicles.
If the street is blocked by construction vehicles during demolition or construction of the new courthouse, the Farmers Market will move to Fairfax Street, west of Washington Street, by the park and that part of Fairfax Street will be closed to traffic except emergency vehicles.
Chief Minton requested a layout of how the market would be set up in that event.
Town Recorder Garnet Marsh said she was concerned about the lack of people filing for election.
"If you have ideas to improve the town, you need to run for election," Marsh said. She is worried about complacency on the part of town residents.
The filing deadline is this Saturday, March 10, at 5 p.m.
Street tax hike?
Finance Committee Chairman Crosby reported that the town's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 needs to be balanced. Proposed expenditures are currently $50,000 more than expected revenues.
Crosby suggested that council look at increasing the street tax as one way of narrowing the gap. The last increase to the tax was in 1998.
Crosby proposed increasing the tax on residents from $3 per quarter to $12, and on businesses from $5 per quarter to $24.
The street tax revenue would be used only on street repairs. Mayor Webster asked that the item be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
Council also approved making the next payment of $243,423 to the contractors for the water line replacement project.
Chief Minton reported that Corporal Craig Pearrell and Butch, the police dog, have completed training and are ready for duty.
Minton also said parking meters have been placed back in service on Liberty Street. A 15-minute loading zone has been established on Independence Street near the Ice House for patrons.
Councilman Kenny Easton reviewed an estimate for repair of the railing on the steps to the Police Department. He said the quote included all work except a grate to cover a hole near the steps. He will discuss this with the contractor.
Easton requested that a sign be placed at the bottom of the steps to alert handicapped people to go into the first floor office to seek assistance before tying to use the steps. Police will come down to meet them.
Councilman Easton and Town Clerk Allgyer suggested that council coordinate the efforts of garbage and street crews. They pointed out the need for a single point of contact for assigning work.
Allgyer will manage a list of jobs by priority. If the mayor, police or council notices work that needs to be done, they will contact her.
Council member Nancy Harvey and two volunteers are collating the historic survey pages with photos of the properties.
She said the Historic Survey Draft document will be placed on display at Town Hall for public comment later this month.
The final draft will be submitted and stored by the State Historic Preservation Office.