Culver council talks new well, water conservation

Water was a topic of some discussion at last week's Culver town council meeting, which isn't entirely surprising given the drought-affected conditions in the area this summer.

Audience member Tom Kearns raised the question of whether or not Culver should consider drilling an additional well to serve as a backup to existing pumps, which he noted are currently running 22 hours a day and at over 100 percent capacity.

"If one goes down," he said, "you have a problem."

Audience member Ralph Winters noted he and town manager David Schoeff had briefly conversed about the topic of a new well field and treatment plant for Culver recently. He said TIF district monies might be available for such a project through the Culver Redevelopment Commission, something to continue to examine.

Schoeff said he could speak with Peerless Midwest, the company the town has been using for repairs at its treatment plant, to get some pricing, though he noted such a project would likely cost at least $50,000. He also asked if council was interested in an additional well using the same water source, or a new well drawing from a separate aquifer; council member Lynn Overmyer suggested deferring to Peerless on that question.

In his town manager's report, Schoeff also discussed the town's ongoing request for residents to conserve water. Though recent rainfall has helped the situation, he said, "until the heat settles down and we get a bunch more rain, people are still using water abundantly (for watering lawns and the like)."

In other matters, the council approved town attorney Jim Clevenger drawing up legislation designating the entire town park as a non-smoking area, at the request of park superintendent Kelly Young.

Young noted many people thought the Indiana smoking ban enacted last month included all of the park, but she said she researched the matter and learned smoking is currently banned only inside buildings and within eight feet of their entrances. Though she acknowledged making the park as a whole smoke-free would be difficult to police, she said she felt most park visitors would comply if signs were erected, and the number of cigarette butt litter would decrease as well.

The council also voted to bring grant writer Shannon Mcleod to a meeting in the near future to discuss conducting an income survey of Culver, a necessary step in securing any grant funding for a new comprehensive plan for the town. Ralph Winters noted Culver's plan commission and CRC both voted to proceed with the plan, and the CRC has offered to help pay for its creation, but more funding will be needed.

Council member Bill Githens noted the council already voted to conduct an income survey, but was waiting for better timing than summer to conduct it. He added McLeod suggested, at her last visit, a door-to-door survey would be ideal.

Schoeff said he discussed the matter with McLeod a few weeks ago. And while the cost of the income survey makes it "about a $3,000 gamble," if the survey isn't conducted, obtaining grant funding for the comprehensive plan is impossible.

Schoeff also explained to the council that recent testing of Culver's large meters led to the discovery that the meter at Miller's Merry Manor nursing home in Culver has only been operating at half capacity. The facility's bills will likely double in coming months, he said, noting sometimes failure of water meters can be a gradual process, as appears to be the case here.

Council also approved $6,824 for purchase of a golf cart for town use, as well as routine insurance claims of $9,339 to cover fire department trucks and equipment, and $40,473 to cover the town's property liability and other requirements.

Githens noted he, council member Ginny Munroe, and utilities manager Bob Porter would meet with Jeff Kutch, head of Culver Academies Facilities department, later that week to discuss the school's water and sewer rates, at the request of head of schools John Buxton. He emphasized no formal decisions would be made, and the meeting is partly to discuss concerns that the school might construct its own sewer plant under certain circumstances, which would spell a significant revenue loss for Culver.

Council president Sally Ricciardi said town clerk Karen Heim wrote up a proclamation recognizing the centennial celebration of Culver Academies' summer Woodcraft Camp's celebration of its centennial, which she said was read at the previous weekend's Lake Fest parade.
Audience member Jean Rakich thanked Porter and the street department for cleaning up a "huge tree" which fell near the senior apartments on Forest Place last Tuesday, work which was completed within an hour, she said. Ricciardi added the department does "a phenomenal job," particularly given the severity of storms this summer.

In reply to an inquiry from audience member Ed Pinder Jr., Schoeff said new sidewalks constructed on various streets in Culver this summer will have grass seed planted around them this fall, when growth conditions are likely to be less drought-affected.

Attorney Clevenger also reported he'd researched methodology of bill payment by park boards in surrounding counties, following discussion of the matter at the previous council meeting, and learned the system Culver had in place -- in which the council approves paying park claims and the park board approves those payments after-the-fact -- "seems to be kind of the standard practice."

Council members also set dates for upcoming budget meetings, including a 3:30 p.m. meeting Tues., Aug. 7 to discuss Fire, EMS, and Park budgets.