City’s out-of-pocket cost on bandshell $65,000

Friday, January 18, 2019

Reviewing the city’s monthly claims is rarely of too much interest at regular City Council meetings.

The expenses detailed are either routine monthly matters of doing city business or larger expenses whose bills have lagged behind the arrival of shiny newness such as some new vehicle, building upgrade or new computer wizardry.

At the City Council’s January meeting, however, a claim for $5,415 from Joe Spiker Excavating on the new Robe-Ann Park bandshell caught Councilman Mark Hammer’s eye as he briefed fellow Council members on some of the highlights of the monthly report.

”That has to be one of the last expenses (on the bandshell project) hopefully,” Hammer said, directing his comment to Mayor Bill Dory.

“Should be,” the mayor responded.

It was at the December Council session that Dory explained that a final cost figure on the new bandshell was not available but likely would be in January.

Councilman Steve Fields again asked if that figure could be shared now.

The final tally, Dory said, is $165,000, including drainage improvements to the area in front of the bandshell.

“We estimated that it’s probably worth more,” Dory added.

“A lot more than $165,000,” Councilman Fields interjected.

Which is why the structure is being insured for $250,000.

“It looks great, and we’ve had a lot of compliments on it,” the mayor said, “so hopefully it will serve the community well for another 50 years like the first one (it actually lasted from 1976-2017).”

The partnerships developed via the Jessica Hartman-led Friends of the Park group through the course of the project were priceless, Dory said, adding that funding came from numerous individual donations, several in-kind contributions from various material suppliers, a $50,000 grant from the state and Civic League tax credits.

“So a lot of people pulled together to bring that project to fruition,” he said. “We do definitely appreciate that.”

The mayor said from his best calculations, out-of-pocket city costs on the project will probably run $65,000.

“And like I’ve said,” Dory added, “that includes the drainage improvements out in front of it.”

Ever the accountant, Councilman Hammer was quick to note that the city’s share being $65,000 means “another $100,000 in donations came in either from the state, individuals and other companies in addition to the in-kind. That’s great.”

So great that Park Director Rod Weinschenk listed completion of the bandshell as the No. 1 accomplishment for his department in 2018.

“We want to thank everyone for being patient,” he said, alluding to the project taking longer than hoped and not being done it time to kick off the 25th anniversary season of ParkFest last summer.

“The final product turned out very, very nice,” Weinschenk said, “and we’re receiving all kinds of compliments in regard to that.”

In other business, the City Council also conducted a public hearing and first reading of Ordinance 2019, which calls for the vacation of a partial alleyway between Howard Street and Broadway and between Maple and Main streets in the city’s South End at the request of Chris Williamson, president of Summit Builders, Greencastle.

Summit currently owns three vacant lots at that location, and given the geographical configuration of the properties, the builders would prefer to have a little more land with which to work.

That’s where a couple of platted but never developed alleyways come into play. If they were to be vacated, Summit would receive half of the land currently dedicated to the alleyway with adjoining property owners getting the other half.

The resulting larger lot would allow a bigger footprint to build from one to three single-family homes, Williamson said.

“We acquired the properties about a year and a half ago,” the builder said, noting that vacating the alleyways would help make the homes more marketable.

“That’s really our goal,” Williamson added, “to build one to three single-family homes in that three-lot configuration.”

Council President Adam Cohen asked what the response has been from the neighbors around the site.

All adjacent property owners were contacted and have had no response. No one was in the audience at the Council meeting to remonstrate against the move.

Williamson said he talked to the owner of the home immediately west of the site, who was the former owner of the vacant property, and “she seemed to be on board with it.”

He reiterated that building plans call for possibly three homes, but most likely two.

“I like that,” Cohen responded.

“Anytime you get a house like that, that’s infill,” Councilman Hammer said of new home construction within existing areas. “That’s good.”

The only public comment came from former mayor candidate Haywood Ware who was in the audience.

“Anytime you can trade any empty lot for a home, that’s a no-brainer,” Ware said.

“Exactly,” Mayor Dory replied.

Ordinance 2019-1 was passed unanimously on first reading with second and final reading expected at the Council’s February session on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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