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Council seeks input on outdoor dining as downtown revitalization nearing launch

September 24, 2012

Culver's town council agreed to solicit input from the community after the question of outdoor dining in down­town Culver was raised during the Sept. 11 council meet­ing.

Utilities manager Bob Porter updated the council on the status of downtown revitalization work planned to start in Culver in mid-September. The work, funded through the Indiana Department of Transportation, will be handled by contractors Rieth-Reilly, said Porter, who are currently negotiating with INDOT. The town should then receive an invoice from INDOT for its 20 percent match of the project cost, and pre-construction meetings can begin.

The bid, Porter added, came in higher than expected.

Audience member Kathy Clark suggested construction could begin on the north block of the work, which will re­place curbs, sidewalks, and other facets of the downtown. She noted no restaurants operate on that block, and those on the southern of the two affected blocks could enjoy any business enhanced by recent pleasant weather. Town manager Dave Schoeff said ultimately the contractor will make timing decisions, but he expected Reith-Reilly would be open to such suggestions.

Audience member Jean Rakich noted Susie Mahler, owner of Cafe Max on South Main, will soon come be­fore the council to follow up on a decision made earlier this year allowing outdoor dining at the eatery. Permis­sion was given to Mahler at the time to erect fencing and place tables on the sidewalk outside Cafe Max, though the agreement required follow-up this month, in time for the revitalization project's launch.

"Maybe board members would like to poll their friends and local people how they feel about it, as well as the people that have stuffed the ballot box. I have witnessed about five bikes shutting off the doorway to the upstairs apartments (above Cafe Max)...where will people park their bikes?"

Council president Sally Ricciardi said the council would be interested in opinions both for and against the outdoor facility.

Council member Ginny Munroe emphasized opinions should be expressed in writing or in person, as phone calls can be made multiple times by the same party.

"I was against it at first," commented audience member Russ Mason, "but I'm not anymore."

TREE REMOVAL

Also discussed was removal of damaged or dead trees located on private property in Culver, but potentially en­dangering public streets or sidewalks, or adjacent private properties. Ricciardi noted a large, dead tree at the corner of Main and Mill Streets overhangs the street to a hazard­ous degree.

When Munroe suggested town crews could remove such trees on private property, council member Lynn Overmy­er said a landslide of requests for similar removals could follow, all over town.

Mike Stallings, of Culver's tree commission, explained the commission has money for trimming or removal of trees, "but only in the public right of way." He suggested the property owner at Mill and Main Streets would likely be open to removing the tree himself.

Porter noted if a tree hangs over a public space, its re­moval is covered in the town's ordinances, but it's ideal to have the property owner remove any tree located on private property.

Schoeff added the town assumes liability if it under­takes private property removals as well.

ZONING ORDINANCE FINALIZED

Passed on all readings and into law was an ordinance discussed at several prior meetings, creating an agricul­tural zoning district in the town of Culver. The ordinance, it was noted, doesn't actually change any properties' zon­ing, but will pave the way for a town and county collab­oration to shore up properties presently situated on both town and county land. The ordinance also establishes rules concerning required installation of lock boxes on commercial buildings, as well as some rules on waste and debris outside the town limits.

SIDEWALK PROJECT COMPLETED

The council approved $6,655.33 to wrap up sidewalk replacement around town as part of a Safe Routes to School grant. Representing design firm The Troyer Group was Chris Waidner, project manager, who explained the amount was that over the budgeted $250,000 for the proj­ect.

Included in the work were 100 ADA (Americans with Disabilities) regulation ramps for sidewalk entry points around town, rather than the 38 originally budgeted; two school warning beacons; 3,131 lineal feet of recon­structed, and 811 feet of new sidewalk; marked (painted) crosswalks at several locations. Including town-installed sidewalk and existing sidewalk in good condition, 6,758 feet of ADA compliant sidewalk exist on the designated routes.

As Porter told the Citizen following the meeting, the town of Culver spent a total of $36,000 for $250,000 worth of work.

OTHER VOTES, DISCUSSION

Also approved was $2,066 for street patching and ap­proval for the Culver Chamber of Commerce -- represent­ed by Brandy Pohl -- to barricade Jefferson Street east of Plymouth Street for the Culver Wine Fair September 15. Town attorney Jim Clevenger was authorized to draft a letter to the owner of Plaza Apartments at the north end of Forest Place, concerning removal of a large tree there, downed earlier this summer.

Schoeff updated the council concerning Culver's com­prehensive plan, a proposal for which Schoeff said is be­ing shared among council members, various entities in Culver, and Kevin Berger, who has led the endeavor for its creation. Once reviewed, he said, the proposal will be sent to potential vendors, after which the details of the plan itself will be considered, with input from the com­munity.

Interim EMS director Bob Cooper Jr. told the council seven new candidates for local EMTs have successfully passed tests and will be able to ride in ambulances after completion of an impending written test.

At the request of audience member Patty Stallings, Berger, in the audience, explained a firemen's memorial is in the works at the northeast corner of Lake Shore Drive and State Street. The basic design, handled by Berger's Easterday Construction, includes a stone wall with space for memorial plaques for past or deceased firemen, with the vintage hose wagon owned by the fire department also part of the design.

It was asked if a tree will be planted to replace the one cut down at the site in order to facilitate the memorial; Berger said he wasn't aware of such a plan.

Audience member Kathy Clark, of the Lake Max­inkuckee Environmental Council, noted a student from Culver Academies would be stencil painting verbiage near Culver's downtown storm sewer drains explaining that they drain to Lake Maxinkuckee, as part of her senior service project at the school. She thanked Porter for pro­viding paint and other assistance for the project.

Incoming state representative Tim Harmon, of Bremen, was in the audience and introduced. Running unopposed this fall, Harmon said he was visiting the meeting just to observe.

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