Town council: possible housing development, staff changes, budget, and more

Among a variety of topics brought to the fore during last week's Culver town council meeting was a report written by town manager Dave Schoeff and read in his absence at the meeting, that Schoeff, council president Sally Ricciardi, and Rick Tompos of the Culver Redevelopment Commission, met with a housing developer -- whom Shoeff's report did not name -- interested in developing a subdivision or homes in Culver.

The developer, it was noted, is not local but regional, and it's believed price points for the homes are in the $130,000 to $140,000 range, but with the additional possibility of some low income and higher income homes. The developer, it was reported, is still running some numbers in terms of feasibility for the area.

In other discussion, heads of two town departments stepped down recently. Brandon Cooper of Culver's EMS reported Robert Cooper III has resigned as director of the service (though he remains a member); Brandon, as former vice director, by default will step in as director for the rest of the year.

Utilities manager Bob Porter told council members that wastewater department supervisor Chip Shoffstall had quit his post Monday, and advertising is going out to replace him.

As per law, the meeting included a public hearing on the town's 2014 budget, with votes to approve it to follow during future meetings.
The council voted to approve Phend & Brown, Inc., of Milford for paving of .83 miles of various streets in Culver, pending review of details of the project bid, for $168,473, the lowest of three submitted bids.

It was also noted that the same company, Phend & Brown, has commenced digging on West Jefferson Street towards the partially grant-funded overhaul of a major portion of the west side of Culver's storm water system.

Also approved was the hiring of a seasonal employee to assist with leaf pickup in the coming weeks and months, and $8,951 to replace sidewalks surrounding the town-owned parking lot at Madison and Ohio Streets, just south of the CVS Pharmacy lot. The work will include raising the sidewalk six inches as well as addition of curbing, and will be done by Bachman Concrete.

During her clerk's report, clear treasurer Karen Heim said a Culver Academies student is hoping to organize a Thanksgiving Day "Turkey Trot" 5k run in Culver to help raise money towards opening a dance studio in the area. She's seeking council's blessing on the event, which may require some assistance from police in closing streets and the like. The same student, Meagan Rioux, explained Heim, has been conducting dance classes at the town park in recent weeks.

Approved by council was a request from NIPSCO to conduct a study at town-owned property near the intersection of State Roads 10 and 17 in regards to the company's Reynolds-Topeka Improvement Project, as well as $22,500 to Priority Project Resources for grant administration, which will be reimbursed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Funds towards repair of one of the township-located tornado sirens amounting to $1,317 will come from the Culver fire department's budget, noted Heim, who explained the township includes funds towards maintenance of the sirens in the department's budget.

Culver's Halloween trick-or-treating will take place Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m., Heim said.

Fire chief Terry Wakefield reported his department was busy earlier this month with programs for Fire Department Prevention Week at local schools.

Culver park board president Tammy Shaffer, in the audience, reported the board's primary issue now is finding and hiring a contractor to remove the much-discussed fishing pier installed at the park earlier this year. She also said local resident Jeff Mansfield has volunteered to offer his consulting services in assisting with the department's recently-purchased Point of Sale equipment and software. Shaffer added she and fellow board member Rhonda Reinhold recently attended a statewide parks and recreation conference in Indianapolis, which was very informative and beneficial.

Tom Kearns of Culver's tree commission reported 29 new trees would be planted by the commission within 10 days of the meeting, bringing the total in Culver for the year to 70.

During the citizen's input portion of the meeting, audience member Jim Hahn referenced the Oct. 2 park board meeting, during which no quorum was reached, leaving the meeting a "discussion only" gathering of those board members present.

He suggested the council consider the notion of adding a seventh member to the board, something discussed by both the park board (which failed to muster enough votes to make the proposal pass) and the council over the summer.

Council member Ed Pinder said he had been asked to raise the issue of the lack of ADA compliance in the sidewalk on the east side of State Street, where local Pearl Harbor veteran Jim DeWitt resides. It was noted DeWitt walks, with assistance, often to Culver's REAL Meals program at the town beach lodge using the sidewalk.

Githens also reported that he and Schoeff attended a convention of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns in Indianapolis recently, adding that the event, which covers legislative issues affecting Indiana communities, was "very worthwhile."