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Bremen Town Council Meeting 07/14/14

by Amy Wenger on July 16, 2014

Several residents are about to experience alterations in the way parking situations are configured on their streets.  Some appear to be encouraged by the changes, while others view the restrictions as a nuisance.  Both sides of the argument were evident in comments proferred to the Bremen Town Council during their session held on Monday, July 14.

    The streets in question include Dewey Street, east of Center Street, as well as Foltz Street and North East Street.  Because those stretches of roadway are exceptionally narrow, they are difficult to navigate with emergency vehicles and snow plows when vehicles are parked there.  The list, which was compiled by leaders of the various emergency services departments, may have additions at a later date, and residents in those targeted areas have received letters informing them of the changes.

    The first to address the council was Dick Hepler, a resident of North Center Street.  Hepler questioned the need for the restrictions, and wondered if there might be an alternative in simply widening the road.  Director of Operations Trend Weldy reiterated the issue of safely maneuvering emergency vehicles through the area, an argument bolstered by support from Fire Chief Matt Neher.  Weldy added that if the council took action to have the road widened, there would be an extended period of no parking at all, whereas the new parking setup allows for sufficient parking.

    Hepler also took the opportunity to note other safety concerns at that location, particularly a longstanding disregard for the stop sign at the intersection of North Center and Dewey streets.  Police Chief Matt Hassel observed that he is aware of the tendency for motorists to ignore the signage, and noted that the department has written many tickets for that exact violation.

    Emily Clinger, who lives on North East Street, expressed optimism about the plan, but indicated that because there are an excessive number of cars parked on her street, she has difficulty utilizing the main entrance to her home.  Clinger has a placard on her vehicle that permits her to use handicap parking, because she has mobility issues, so Weldy offered to assist her by painting a blue space directly in front of her residence, which will provide adequate room for her to park.

    Another resident who commended the effort was Steve Zellmer, who resides on East South Street.  Having observed unsafe driving practices in the Foltz Street vicinity, resulting in an accident involving a horse and buggy, made Zellmer receptive to the notion that emergency vehicles must be accommodated.  He asked the council to be mindful of a particularly tight turning radius where Plymouth and Foltz streets intersect.  Hassel said that years ago, there was a no parking rule implemented along Foltz Street, which provoked a fair share of controversy.

    All of the residents were reassured that their concerns would be reviewed, and any modification to the original list will be brought to attention.

New Sanitary Sewer Line
    Town Engineer Larry Long received the council's permission to set about with the process of obtaining quotes for a new sanitary sewer line between Dewey and Mill streets, east of Montgomery Street.

    Long explained that during a recent round of video testing in the existing line, it was found to be severely damaged, with cracks and deterioration prevalent.  Long also noted that the current six inch diameter line is not in compliance with the state's minimum requirement of eight inches.  It was also found that one section of the line has a significant "kink" in it, of approximately 45 degrees.

    Because the project's estimated cost is expected to fall below the $75,000 threshold for procuring bids, Long said that he would like to have some quotes ready for the council's consideration in an upcoming session, most likely August 11, he said.
    In other business, the council:

    - Approved, on second reading, Ordinance 8-2014, which outlines specific rules regarding smoking limitations and motorized vehicle usage in the park system.  Some lingering question of what exactly defines a motorized vehicle, and some other minor details, are expected to be resolved by the July 28 council meeting, during which the measure will likely pass on third and final reading.
    - Approved the hiring of Krista Smith as the new secretary to the Director of Operations.  Smith was most recently a dispatcher for the Bremen Police Department, and was given a commendable recommendation by Hassel as a worthy candidate for the new position.  Her probationary period was reduced to three months rather than the required six month time frame, as she took a pay reduction with the acceptance of this job.  Once she has completed her probationary period, she will receive a raise that will put her more in line with her previous earnings as a dispatcher.

    - Heard an announcement from Weldy that the Michiana Area Council of Government (MACOG) recently received a federal grant, of which Bremen will receive a share, for the replacement of over 200 signs throughout the community.  Weldy said that the price tag to replace the planned signs, which include school crossings, no parking, and stop signs, would typically cost somewhere in the $12,000 range.  With the grant funds, that cost will drop to nearly $4100.  The council voted to approve this arrangement via an interlocal agreement, which gives the council leverage in securing professional engineering services to achieve this task, which does not have a specific timetable as of yet.

    - Gave permission to have East South Street closed to traffic on the evening of August 12 to allow for the execution of the Kiddies Day Parade.

    - Heard an explanation from Neher as to why the town of Bremen did not activate the storm sirens during the bout of severe weather that struck the community in the early morning hours of July 1.  Neher said that there were five different units dispatched to weather watch throughout the course of the event, and that there were no incidents of funnel clouds having been sighted.  He also added that reports were indicating weakening of the storms as they approached the LaPaz area, and that led to the decision not to sound the sirens.  Neher observed that aside from two overturned utility poles, and some structural damage in the 7th Road vicinity, Bremen actually fared quite well, and he expressed his gratitude to those who helped clean up debris in time for the Firemen's Festival parade to begin on schedule.

    The next meeting of the Bremen Town Council will be held on Monday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the Bremen Town Hall.


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