Bremen Town Council Meeting 09/08/14by Amy Wenger on September 11, 2014
On the surface, having the town of Bremen become the recipient of a property donation might appear to be a good thing. But when the gesture comes with a set of conditions and a slew of unanswered questions, members of the Bremen Town Council are inclined to say, "not so fast..." The issue generated a fair share of discussion at Monday evening's session.
It was revealed that an organization known as JSM Development is hoping to give the community a parcel of land located near the corner of Grant and Birkey streets, where a proposed grouping of residences is being planned. However, there were some stipulations that were outlined in the transaction that rendered the council a little unsure of how, or if, they should accept and proceed.
JSM Development has asked for the deed to specifically mention that the land is to be used strictly for park usage, and that any buildings to ever be built at that site should also have relevance to the park system. The area must also be given a comparable level of priority as that of other park amenities throughout the town, particularly with regards to maintenance and mowing.
By including such language in the deed, noted Town Attorney Anthony Wagner, that places significant restrictions on any prospective sale of the land, as the buyer would be bound by the parameters under which the property was given to the town.
"The upkeep of the real estate might be more of a problem than it's worth," Wagner said. "Is it a worthwhile investment of the time, money, and energy for its use in the future?"
Added councilman Heath Thornton, "Having someone donate something, and then telling us what we can or can't do with it, doesn't sound like a very good opportunity for us."
Park Superintendent Brian Main, who was not able to attend the council meeting, was said to have some concerns as well, which led to a decision to put the matter on hold until the next session, to allow the council to hear his input and assess his recommendation.
Lebermuth Building's Fate Still Unclear.
In another property themed issue, Director of Operations Trend Weldy presented the council with three quotes in regards to the possible demolition of the former Lebermuth building in the 100 block of South Center Street. Of the three quotes offered, the one from John Pfeiffer was the lowest at $49,800, with Beer and Slabaugh slightly above at $50,000 and John Reed providing an estimate of $60,000.
The future of the building and the area on which it rests remains uncertain, as the council wondered aloud what exactly could be gained by keeping the structure intact. Whatever conclusion is reached about the fate of the building, environmental studies are necessary to establish any volatility of building materials, both interior and exterior. Of particular concern is the possibility that the facility could harbor asbestos.
That revelation prompted the council to ask who would be responsible for the expense of conducting the study, called "Phase 1," and exactly how much are the financial expectations. Weldy noted that the property owners have expressed reluctance in assisting with any costs related to the site. Thornton shared that he had become familiar with the concept of having "green spaces" adorning rural downtown sectors, and asked if that might be an option. However, "are we willing to pay $50,000 to get this land?" he asked.
Councilman Rick Graverson believes that the building itself is worthy salvaging, and endorsed an earlier suggestion by Main that the structure would be a suitable arena for a skateboard park.
"I think it could support and encourage activity downtown," Graverson said. "I think it would be in the town's best interests to have that property."
The council took action to move forward on the issue, voting to allow Phase 1 to commence. More details on the situation will likely be forthcoming at future meetings.
To Flouridate...Yay or Nay?
Alex Mikel, Water and Street Superintendent, revisited the topic of whether or not to include flouridation into the plans for the town's new water treatment facility. Representatives from the local branch of the State Board of Health, along with input from area dentists, were on hand at an August council meeting to give presentations regarding the advantages that infusing flouride into the town's water supply would have on children. The State Board of Health has shared guidelines that recommend .7 parts per million as the standard formula to add, and the town's current ratio typically falls between .4 and .7 parts per million.
When given an opportunity to share her viewpoint, audience member Gayle Graverson observed, "I think it should be the people's decision as to whether they want flouride in their water." She referenced a number of reports that dispute the notion that flouride is beneficial for children, adding that she was aware of studies in which IQ levels were diminished, and cavity reduction was negotiable against communities that have stopped adding flouride to their water. "I am strongly opposed to it," Graverson added.
Council members voted to allow the addition of flouride as a feature for the new plant, noting that if they can be swayed by evidence supporting claims that flouride can be more harmful that originally thought, the flouride inclusion can easily be stopped.
Other Items of Business
Council members addressed several other topics during the meeting, including the following:
- Conducted a public hearing on Ordinance 11-2014, which details the 2015 budget. No one from the public was on hand to voice any concerns, so the ordinance was voted through on a second reading.
- Received a reminder notice from Fire Chief Matt Neher about the pancake breakfast being held in downtown Bremen on the morning of Saturday, October 4, from 1 to 10 a.m.
- Voted to allow a road closure of a section of North Liberty Street between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 18 for a line dancing contest. The event is being sponsored by Tim Martin Ford, Bell-Mart, and the Horse Saddle Shop.
- Decided to table a vote on the newly implemented parking restrictions affecting a handful of town streets. There was some discrepancy over the publication notice, so the council chose to wait until the next meeting to officially render their vote.
- Approved the closure of the downtown thoroughfare of Plymouth Street between Washington and Jackson streets on the night of November 26, between 6-9 p.m. The occasion is the annual lighting ceremony of the Christmas decorations, which will be held in the center of town.
The next meeting of the Bremen Town Council will take place on Monday, September 22 in the council chambers of the Bremen Town Hall. Council meetings will now be operating on the fall/winter schedule, which means that the sessions will now begin at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.