Council supports park expansion on old garden site

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Plans to increase the size of Greencastle's main city park took another step forward Tuesday night with a positive vote from the City Council.

With a tally of 4-1, council members cleared the way for the city park board to borrow $70,500 to buy additional land adjacent to Robe-Ann Park.

The land, known as the Clearwaters property, occupies space in the southwest corner of the park at the intersection of Bloomington and Tennessee streets. The resolution approved by the council this week allows the park board to borrow the money from the Citizens Advisory Commission for Industrial Development, known as CACFID, to be paid back over a period of 10 years.

Park officials plan to demolish an existing building on the site and turn the ground into usable space for the city park.

But the decision to allow the park board to move ahead with the purchase of the Clearwaters property didn't come without some concerns over the history of the site.

By most accounts, the property was at one time used as a filling station and many people feel there is a strong chance there are abandoned storage tanks still buried somewhere on the site.

A preliminary investigation conducted at the site earlier this year was inconclusive, but it did not stop park officials from wanting to continue with the purchase of the property.

On Tuesday, City Engineer Glen Morrow said the potential exists that a more extensive testing of the soil may have to take place in the future. If traces of petroleum are detected or if underground storage tanks are discovered, the city will be responsible for seeing that they are properly removed.

Morrow told the council that there are state government grants available to cities for the clean-up of such sites.

"It's a matter of waiting in line and completing the application process," he said.

But that didn't satisfy some council members who worried about the possibility that the city would be forced to pay for the clean-up if it failed to earn the grant.

Morrow said he has heard of similar clean-up projects costing municipalities hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to complete.

"I can't support it," Councilman Tom Roach said, adding that he was also concerned that the land would no longer contribute to property taxes once it was deeded to the city.

He voted against allowing the parks department to borrow the money for the property, while council members Bob Sedlack, Mark Hammer, Russ Evans and John Lanie voted to support it.

Sedlack said he was in agreement with Roach's concerns but still voted in favor of the purchase. Councilman Lanie said he welcomed an opportunity to see a potentially problematic property in town restored to full use.

"This helps clean it up," he said.

CACFID board members approved lending the money to the park board earlier this month. It needed the city council's approval this week to become final.

In other business, the council:

-- Approved on first reading ordinance 2006-03 to rezone 12 acres of residential property between Tennessee Street, Veterans Memorial Highway and Zinc Mill Road to Professional Business. Carpenter Real Estate Company made the request for one lot to allow for the construction of an office, but on the request of the Plan Commission gained the support of all but one property owner in the "triangle" section of land. The ordinance will come back to the council for second reading before becoming final.

-- Approved three separate requests for Main Street Greencastle. One, Destination Downtown, for DePauw student orientation, is scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m. Aug. 22. Franklin Street, from Indiana to Jackson, will be closed for this event from 4-7 p.m.

Secondly, a Downtown Farmers Market will begin Aug. 5 and continue through Oct. 28. Composed of home-grown food, crafts and food, the farmers market will take place from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays in the downtown area. Franklin Street, from Indiana to Jackson, will be closed from 7:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.

Third, a new fall festival will be conducted to coincide with the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County. The event will be conducted Friday Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 15 and will be a hand-made craft and food event. Road closures will be necessary from 5 p.m. Oct. 12 until 9 p.m. Oct. 15. The roads are: Franklin from Indiana to Jackson, Indiana from Franklin to Washington, Indiana from Washington to Walnut, and Walnut from Indiana to the church parking lot.

-- Approved on first reading Ord. 2006-04, prohibiting parking on the south side of Avenue F from Percy Julian Drive to Mill Pond Drive. A second approval is required before the ordinance would take effect.

-- Learned from City Planner Shannon Norman that building permits have been issued for First Financial Bank to construct a bank at the corner of Indianapolis Road and Round Barn Road, next to Pat's Ace Hardware. She also noted that property across from Taco Bell has been cleared to make way for a new Gas America station and plans for a North Salem State Bank, scheduled for construction behind the new First Financial Bank, are up for technical review this week.

The Greencastle City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at city hall.

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