By DAVID GREEN
A few residents on North Washington Street aren’t opposed to the installation of sidewalks in their neighborhood; they just want a little extra time to get the job done.
Their request made sense to Morenci city council members who voted unanimously Monday night to delay the deadline.
City council adopted a sidewalk repair and installation program in 2005 and designated the area of town near the elementary school as the starting point. Several properties in the area have no sidewalk at all and others are in need of repair or replacement.
A portion of the work was completed, but the project was derailed due to funding. The city shares in approximately half the cost of sidewalk work if property owners make arrangements through the city and complete the work by the deadline listed in notification letters.
Washington Street resident Gary Valentine said he doesn’t disagree with the need to install sidewalks—he’s watched people walk in the road for many years—but he thinks the six-week time limit was too short.
Valentine noted that mention of his neighborhood was mentioned in the Observer more than two years ago and nothing was done.
“Now it must be done on really short notice,” he said. “I’d like to see an extended amount of time. It’s foolish not to take advantage of the city’s plan, but it’s a large outlay of cash.”
Brad Lonis agreed, noting that the bad economy will make it challenge to get the work done quickly. He suggestion that residences should be given the same time frame as the school. A walk along Locust Street by the elementary school will be installed next summer after the renovation projects that include paving the parking loop in front of the school.
City supervisor Barney Vanderpool agreed that the process became rushed after waiting to see what the school had planned.
“I apologize on that part,” he said.
Councilor Tracy Schell made a motion to allow the same time frame as the school, but she agreed to a change after council member Keith Pennington reminded the group of the annual budget for sidewalk repair.
In order to take advantage of the funds already budgeted for the current fiscal year, he suggested giving residents a June 30 deadline. Council voted 7-0 in favor of the delay.
Councilor Leasa Slocum expressed concern about the next phase of repair, wondering if those residents would also seek an extension.
Vanderpool said he would alleviate that concern by getting notification letters out earlier in the future. That will allow residents more time to make arrangements for having the work completed.
The next phase of the sidewalk plan moves to Gorham Street. Several residents there were ordered by city council to install walks in 1994.
At that time, a court injunction was sought against the city and at least one resident removed a sidewalk rather than repair it.
Although several property owners installed new walks, others refused to cooperate and complained about sidewalks leading to nowhere at the edge of the city.
SKYLINE DRIVE—Council approved a regulation to limit parking to the south side of Skyline Drive, the road leading from East Street into the industrial park.
Police chief Larry Weeks said he had received complaints about semi-trailers parking along both sides of the street and sometimes in the middle of the street.
He recommended keeping the north side of the street free of parking since fire hydrants are located on that side.
LIBRARY—Three-year appointments were renewed for two Stair Public Library board of directors, Sally Kruger and Mike Gillen.
RADIOS—Chief Weeks was given permission to replace three radios. Funds would come from the account derived from drunk driving arrests.
INVENTORY—City administrator clerk Renée Schroeder attended meeting at the Lenawee Economic Development Corporation. Director James Gartin wants the help of community officials in creating an inventory of available buildings and property.
INVESTMENTS—City treasurer Stephanie Mossing attended a meeting designed to help communities protect investments in light of national economic concerns. Savings are insured to $100,000, Schroeder noted, and Morenci splits its savings between the two local banks.