LIGONIER, Ind. — Prior to Monday evening’s common council meeting, a public meeting was held to answer questions about sidewalk assessments for Grand Street residents resulting from the rebuilding of the street.

The meeting took place at the Rec Center to accommodate the larger-than-usual crowd of about 40 people. Approximately 50 homeowners on Grand Street will be assessed for the cost of sidewalks, curbs and driveway approaches on their property.

Several residents expressed concern that they had not known in advance what their required payment would be. Others were concerned about the amount they would have to pay.

As part of street rebuilding projects, city officials have for some time required residents to pay for one-half of the cost of new sidewalks on their property and for curb and driveway approaches on their property.

The costs for Grand Street property owners for sidewalks will be $27 per foot, for curbs $11 per foot and for driveway approaches $35 per foot. Most of the bills are expected to fall in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, with a low cost of around $600, and the highest more than $3,000.

The preliminary assessment amounts were available to property owners at the meeting and are also available at City Hall.

Owners can review and raise questions about their assessments and can ask for corrections if errors are discovered.

Another public hearing will be scheduled, according to Mayor Gary Bishop, in about 30 days.

In response to a question concerning the replanting of trees along Grand Street, Street Commissioner Richard Moser replied that a grant was being pursued from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for replacement trees.

Wastewater Pretreatment Agreement Signed

In the council meeting that followed the public hearing, wastewater employee Jane Alger reported to council members that city officials are being required to adopt processes that will prevent substances from being introduced to the city treatment facilities that can damage the treatment process.

As an example of the problems that can result, Alger told the council that an incident in the past week shut down the plant by destroying the bacteria that break down waste products and allow the water to be purified.

In order to restore the plant to operation, the tanks had to be “reseeded” with bacteria, and restarted. The source of the damaging material has not yet been discovered.

City attorney Steve Hagen informed the council that the agreement had been in process for eight months, and now needs to be signed and returned to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to fulfill requirements of the national Environmental Protection Agency by Jan. 8.

Hagen advised the council that further comment from the EPA is expected, and estimated that the agreement will be finalized in six months. The agreement will authorize a structure of city responses, including stopping violators from discharging waste into the city system, and fines that can amount to thousands of dollars per day for violations.

The council approved the agreement.

River Walk

Council president Ken Schuman reported that a good day of work on the RiverWalk project was completed, during which 1,900 feet of the mile-long section between the wastewater plant and downtown was marked with stakes. Approximately 40 volunteers participated in the work.

Final Meeting

Because the final council session for 2007 falls on Christmas Eve, the council approved moving the meeting to next Monday. The meeting will be in the council chambers in City Hall.

Council members passed the city salary ordinance for elected officials on the second and third readings.

Local resident Kenneth Yoder asked the council to respond to his concern that a city police officer had been disrespectful in responding to a minor vehicle violation. Yoder, who lives outside the city, indicated that he had been advised by his lawyer to bring his concerns to the city council.

Police Chief Brian Shearer asked Yoder to bring the incident to him for follow-up.

Hagen advised Yoder that grievance procedure followed by the city starts with contact with the police chief, after which further steps involving the rest of city government may follow.

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