Bath Council hears updates on projects
Larry Lower reported to the council at the February 7 meeting that the application for this year’s Transportation Enhancement Program grant of $475,000 for the Streetscape project has been submitted. He said the committee wouldn’t know until late summer or fall if the grant is approved.
If all or part of the grant is approved, the design work would start in March 2013 with construction starting that fall, he said.
Lower said the work planned for this phase of the project is on Mercer Street and the cross streets of Congress, Independence and Union.
Streetscape has received a $4,500 grant to plant trees along the newly finished sidewalks on Mercer Street. Those trees must be planted by May, he said.
More grants available
John McCracken, who works with both the Streetscape and Train Depot committees, talked to council about two new grants that are available.
He said he recently met with Rob Pennington of the state Department of Transportation. Pennington advised McCracken the town should go after two grants.
The main grant called a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant has a minimum request of $1 million. It is a total cash grant with no match, McCracken said.
He asked council for permission to proceed with a letter of intent to apply for the TIGER grant. The letter must be submitted by February 20.
“These are very competitive grants and it is a long shot to get this money,” McCracken said.
McCracken also talked about applying for a grant called the Transportation Community and System Preservation Program which will be available next year.
Council voted to give McCracken the authority to move forward with the intent to apply letter for the TIGER grant.
“After the application, we really need to get our legislative bodies in motion to start encouraging consideration of this and the grant next year,” Lower said.
“We know how to do that,” Mayor Susan Webster assured Lower.
Lower suggested a brainstorming session be held to figure out how the money could be used if the grant is awarded. He said the TIGER grant could be used for sidewalks, curbing and lighting and also for such projects as paving town streets and restoring the town square.
Proposed flea market
Town resident Bill Grimes proposed a flea market in the CSX lot behind the train depot. He asked the council if the town had a time frame for acquiring the property.
Webster said the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has not yet signed off on CSX’s cleanup of the property. In addition, the town is working on an accurate appraisal of the property.
A first appraisal came in low at $35,000. The town is hoping to have the property appraised at a higher value to use for $76,000 in matching funds required for a $304,264 grant already awarded to complete rehabilitation of the train depot.
Webster told Grimes the town cannot take receipt of the property until after a letter to proceed is received from the state for the grant project.
Webster said she would call Senator Helmick to see if he could speed up the process at the DEP.
Grimes asked if his project could be first in line for consideration once the town owned the lot.
“Other projects are also being considered including a rail to trail project, a park, a municipal center, a police station - all kinds of situations have been proposed for it. I do appreciate you stepping up to bat,” Webster said.
Requirements of grant
Town’s attorney Richard Gay gave an overview of the state and federal reporting requirements associated with the grant for the train depot.
Gay told the council they could not go through any of the process of requesting bids, soliciting an engineer or anybody else until the town has received a written consent from the West Virginia Department of Transportation.
He said the town is responsible for adequate supervision of the project and to make sure the work conforms to the plans.
“For anything that happens in this project, the town undertakes the liability,” Gay said.
The town must install a 4’ x 8’ sign at the project site that must have the name of the project and say, “This project includes funding from the Federal Highways Administration’s Transportation Enhancement Program and is administered by the West Virginia Transportation Division of Highways.”
The sign must also display the amount of the project, $304,264, Gay said.
Chesapeake Bay Initiative
Matt Pennington of Region 9 asked council to consider adopting the model stormwater management ordinance that Region 9 prepared as a reference for rewriting the town’s stormwater ordinance in order to bring the town into compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Intitiative.
After a spirited discussion, the council voted 4-1 to join the Home Consortium program this year.
The program provides help with closing costs and down payments for qualified first time homebuyers.
Skinner opposed joining the consortium and took a conservative stand against federal government housing programs that she said have mostly failed.
The four other council members argued they wouldn’t want to take away the opportunity from town residents who qualify to take advantage of the program.
Webster, Town Recorder Vince Kidwell and newly appointed Councilwoman Elizabeth Skinner attended the Municipal League Conference held on January 29-30 in Charleston.
While at the conference, the three were able to visit with local legislators state Senators Walt Helmick and Clark Barnes and Delegate Daryl Cowles.
“We talked about the Cacapon State Park expansion and there is a lot of enthusiasm for this,” Webster said.
The council gave Chief Water Operator Terry Largent consent to hire a second administrative employee.
Estimates for the removal of a tree that fell on Wilkes Street and the removal of two dead trees near the Water Works were reviewed by the council. Local contractor Tree Works was selected to remove the trees.
Finance Committee meetings will be held at 5 p.m. before the second council meeting each month.
Water Committee meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. before each council meeting.
The Make it Shine program will be held this year on Saturday, April 14.
Webster appointed Councilman Ken Easton to run the program.
Mayor Webster introduced Debra Peck as the new Town Clerk.