Council updated on parking, new streetscape work

Culver's town council breezed through a plethora of work items at its Sept. 10 regular meeting, fielding among other things a question vexing some in the downtown area concerning parking.

Council member Lynn Overmyer expressed concern at how many cars have been parking outside the Overmyer soft water business on East Jefferson, due, she said, to the lack of two-hour parking enforcement east of the alley dividing the north side of that street.

The council, as fellow council member Ginny Munroe noted, voted some weeks ago to lift the two hour parking limit on downtown side streets which had been put into effect some months earlier, as businesspeople in the downtown area were finding it difficult to find parking spots, since two-hour parking limits also remain in effect on Main Street itself. Some employed in the downtown area pointed out they're the only ones using side streets for parking most days of the week. The council's vote, earlier this summer, thus lifted the two-hour limit on side streets, with the exception of weekends and holidays, when traffic is heavier.

Utilities manager Bob Porter explained he has the new signs reflecting the council's vote, but until the parking ordinance is formally changed -- which requires a pre-scheduled public hearing -- the two hour limit will remain in effect, and the old signs remain posted, on side streets.

There was some discussion as to whether a 90-day trial period could be imposed upon the ordinance, though doubt was expressed as to the workability of such an endeavor.

Residents should soon notice a number of changes along several blocks of Culver streets, according to a report from town manager Dave Schoeff, who said the Culver Redevelopment Committee is funding rehab of sidewalks, curbs, and lighting along Main Street between Washington Street and Lake Shore Drive, among several other locations.

Included will be updated handicapped ramps at some 14 crosswalks, replacement of 9 or 10 street lamps with the "vintage" style installed within the past year in the downtown area.

Similarly "vintage" looking street signs, also in the same style as those installed downtown, will be erected as well.
In all, 1,200 linear feet of curbing will be generated via the project, he added.

He also noted the CRC elected not to repave the actual streets in the designated areas, as the asphalt there is "in relatively good shape."
Among other decisions, the council voted to grant a request from Michelle Porter to discuss personnel matters regarding Culver's EMS, after some debate as to whether she had first exhausted all means available to address her concerns within the department.

Council president Sally Ricciardi suggested Porter "follow the chain of command" in the matter, though council members Lynn Overmyer and Bill Githens pressed for allowing her to speak at an executive session with council, which was eventually decided unanimously.

In other EMS-related discussion Ricciardi, a member of the service, after noting EMS director Robert Cooper wasn't at the council meeting, reported that members of the service looked the previous week at a demo ambulance from Fire Services, Inc., which she said has purchased several other ambulance manufacturing companies. As a result,

Ricciardi explained, there has been a considerable increase in the price of the vehicles, with the last one purchased by Culver running $115,000, and current models varying between $150,000 and $300,000.
She said ambulances typically begin to experience electrical problems at around ten years of age, though the actual Ford E350S chassis in the ambulance slated for replacement is "not bad at all," she said.

Among council votes at the meeting was the passing (on second and third readings, following a public hearing at the prior meeting) of ordinance 2013-005, pertaining to compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act; permission for town clerk Karen Heim to advertise the opening of the council-appointed position on the Culver Library board, following the resignation of Joan Bess (Bess' daughter, Ginny Munroe, abstained from voting). Ricciardi noted Bess had "served for several years and did a great job."

Also approved was $1,146.42 for six new tired for the town-owned Dodge pickup truck, as requested by utilities manager Porter; $3,325.01 to repair a pump at the sewer plant; after-the-fact approval of $4,112.10 in patching work on Culver's streets; and $1,204.79 for three one-year licenses and maintenance for GIS-related software for town utilities.
During his town manager's report, Schoeff noted representatives of Tuscumbia Iron Works of Alabama were in town the previous week to repair the long-discussed west face of the town clock on Main Street.

He also said a pre-construction meeting should take place regarding the partially grant-funded project to replace a large section of Culver's stormwater system, on the west end of town.

Culver will hopefully soon be part of Indiana Main Street, a division of the state's Office of Community and Rural Affairs, according to Schoeff, who said he will be meeting shortly with Culver's Chamber of Commerce and Second Century Committee. He described the designation as "another funding opportunity" which will likely help the town with rehabilitation and beautification projects. Filing has also taken place through Second Century to allow tax-deductible, 501-C3 donations to be made towards town projects, Shoeff added.

Fire chief Terry Wakefield reported the department raised $1,600 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by way of its annual "fill the boot" campaign on Culver's streets recently.

Tom Kearns of the Culver Tree Commission said a fall planting is scheduled to replace 29 trees planted over the past five years but which didn't survive. He noted 17 trees have been cited by an arborist the commission hired, as "priority removals."
The council approved spending $6,000 of the commission's budget on the fall planting and watering effort.

Also approved was a request from Heim for $1,800 to Commonwealth Engineers towards the upcoming stormwater project, as well as permission for her to file tax liens against non-paying properties on Lake Shore Drive and Madison Street for unpaid water and sewer bills.
Heim also reminded the council and audience that town wide yard sales will take place Sept. 27 and 28, and town-wide cleanup day is Oct. 12.
Audience member Bill Cleavenger extended appreciation to Heim for her presence earlier this month during a visit by Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann to Marshall County.

"Karen was one of two out of the county's local office holders that attended, and the Lt. Governor made note of that," said Cleavenger. He said Ellspermann is "perhaps the most approachable and helpful person" to hold the office recently, which he said is important given the status of rural affairs in the Lt. Governor's duty roster.

Council also heard from Steve Carter of Carter Dillon Umbaugh LLC in Plymouth, who said the organization is in "a unique position to help municipalities navigate through the (upcoming) Affordable Health Care Act."

Council members spent several minutes discussing options for learning about and implementing required changes pertaining to the legislation in the coming months and years.