Town council discusses gas station’s status

BREMEN — In the eyes of Bremen town officials, the dilemma of how to establish the future of the former Clark service station will not be resolved until the mystery of its recent past is unraveled.
The subject was a prevailing topic at the Monday, July 22, meeting of the town council.
What was once the Clark gas station and convenience store is now a significant eyesore at the juncture of Bowen Avenue and West Plymouth Street, one of the town’s most heavily traversed intersections.
Council members have expressed concerns over the current state of the establishment, yet there remains a critical issue to be resolved: No one seems to know who truly owns the property.
 Director of Operations Trend Weldy, bolstered by input from Town Attorney Anthony Wagner, voiced his ongoing frustration in his attempts to talk with anyone connected to the site.
Weldy said that whenever he is fortunate to find someone who claims to have knowledge of the situation, he hears conflicting information as to the property’s status.
“When we contacted the most recent owner,” Wagner said, “he told us that everything’s been placed in a trust, so he can’t sell the building. Then we’re told that the reason he can’t sell is because there’s been a lien placed on the property against the previous owner.”
Wagner said nothing further can be accomplished until the actual owner is found. 
“The only way to know what’s going on is to do a title search,” the town attorney said, adding that the process would likely cost $200-$300.
Once ownership is determined, Wagner said, “we are looking at two options: to either purchase the property or facilitate a sale.
“Getting it back to use as an economically viable property would be best.”
Weldy said there is urgency behind Wagner’s suggestion, because of recent safety concerns. 
He said that there is a place where tanks have begun to buckle, leaving large holes in the concrete of up to 8 feet deep. 
He also said that tanks are partially visible in the damaged area. Recent clean-up efforts by volunteers have been ongoing, but the instability of the collapsed ground makes it treacherous.
The council approved allowing Wagner to conduct a title search.  The town attorney is expected to update the council once that’s finished.
New mowing policies
Those neglecting their lawns and land on a consistent basis may soon face stiffer penalties from the town, according to a new ordinance. 
The ordinance, which passed through first reading at the July 8 meeting, limits the height at which grass and brush will be permitted to grow to 12 inches.
Weldy resumed an earlier discussion from the previous meeting, during which he sought to raise the fee for the town to mow non-compliant properties. That fee is $45.
Under the proposed ordinance, the town will charge $50 per hour, per man, with a $100 minimum.
With the unanimous backing of the council, the ordinance inched closer to adoption, with the subject expected to be revisited in August.
Woodies Lane speed limit
The council discussed a possible lowering of the speed limit on Woodies Lane.
Bremen police Sgt. Brad Kile, sitting in for Police Chief Matt Hassel, passed along a recent suggestion to consider lowering the speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 20.
The idea touched off several points of contention, leading more than one council member to question the need for change.
There are three stop signs in place along the corridor, it was said, which leads to the notion that drivers are already traveling at reduced speeds in anticipation of each stop. 
It was also observed that the fairly short length of the road does not allow for a proper buffer to install signage warning travelers to slow down.
When asked if any tickets had been issued for speeding violations as of late, Kile replied that he could only recall one or two incidences.
Another option brought up was to have installation of flashing lights near the park and athletic grounds, which would be activated and controlled during periods of high traffic volume. The system could be monitored by the traffic ordinance committee. 
The council also discussed who should be part of the traffic ordinance committee.  The members said the group should be made up of the fire and police chiefs, the street superintendent, with the new inclusion being one non-voting council liaison.
No further action was rendered on the speed limit issue.
Department reports:
- Park Superintendent Brian Main said the department is making strides to launch a feasibility study for the creation of a splash pad.
Such an attraction has been included in the five-year master plan for the park system, he added.
Some of the items that must be addressed include selecting a location and ensuring that there will be a proper manner of disposal or recycling of the “gray” water, or runoff. Main plans to keep the council apprised of impending developments.
Main also said that the community’s soccer program hopes to have six new lights installed at the sports complex. 
The estimated cost of the lights is $23,000, and the expense will be divided between the high school, the soccer association and German Township – all entities that utilize the facility.
- Alex Mikel ended his probationary period as Superintendent of the Street and Water Department and was promoted to full-time permanent status, with the backing of the council.
One of Mikel’s first official acts in his new role was to ask the council’s permission to hire Travis Kincaid as the department’s newest addition, a request which was granted.
Mikel went on the inform the council that advertising procedures will soon be underway for the street resurfacing project. 
This phase includes the section of Grant Street between Stewart and Birkey streets and will involve milling and paving, hopefully securing that stretch of road for a period of 15 years.
- Jay Stoneburner, superintendent of the electric department, received the council’s approval to reclassify Jordan Patrick from a third-class line worker to a second-class line worker.
- The council passed on third reading the ordinance outlining wages for the current year.
The next session of the Bremen Town Council is 7:30 p.m. Monday Aug. 12, at town hall.