Town stands on allowing alley work to proceed

BOURBON — The Bourbon Town Council heard from representatives from three area businesses on north Main Street that disagreed on proposed work being done on an alley. The issue was one that had been discussed at prior meetings. The alley runs north and south behind Robin’s Nest, Bourbon Plumbing and Heating and Harmony Press. Tim Harmon, president of Harmony Press, explained to those present at the May council meeting, that his business intended to pave a five foot wide portion of the alley (that opens from a side door) and lay limestone as well. Harmon said that the third-generation company employed “about 40” people and paid out more than $3m per year in salaries.
He said the reasoning behind the proposed alley work, paid for by his company, was that he needed to be able to get product in and out of the two buildings the company owns (via forklift) and that in the past, the alley’s disrepair had caused damage to his forklift. Harmon also acknowledged that should town employees or NIPSCO need access to the lines in that specific area, that his company would be responsible for the repair of the area that was dug into.
Aaron Williams of Bourbon Plumbing and Heating said that the increased traffic of the Harmony Press forklift would make the alley, his only legal access to his business, “blind and dangerous.” He mentioned that a former council had agreed that the alley was to be a “limited access” throughway and that paving it would only encourage more traffic. Robin Racolta of Robin’s Nest agreed that the alley was already somewhat unsafe as she had “already hit a kid” driving through there, but that her main concern was that the alley should be paved in its entirety. She noted that she did allow BPH employees and traffic to the business to access the building through the portion of the alley that she owns (that begins at its intersection with Center Street and ends behind the end of her building). Williams said his main concern (beyond safety issues) was having to wait for 10-minute intervals while forklifts for Harmony Press loaded or unloaded. Harmon assured that there would only be two times each day that the scenario of moving product would occur and offered to put up a mirror on his building and a strobe light on the forklift to ensure safety. “I value each business in Bourbon,” he said, “In no way am I trying to hinder or discourage any business to local businesses.” Town council members asked questions of all the parties concerned and decided to continue to allow the alley work to be done. Council president Les McFarland said, “If the company is willing to repair it with no cost to the town and he (Harmon) is willing to allow the town to approve the work before he walks away from it, I can’t see why we should have a problem with it.” McFarland explained that presently, the town did not have the funds in the budget to repair the alley but that it would be a priority for (two or three years into) the future. “I feel he (Harmon) is bending over backward,” he said. “My vote will stand for the work to proceed.” The council unanimously agreed. “If he’s only making two trips a day, I don’t see the problem with it either,” said councilman Phillip “P.J.” Hanley. Harmon said he expected the work on the alley to be done in about two weeks time.
Another issue discussed was regarding every property in town: Clearly identifying each address in order for emergency services to quickly and easily arrive when needed. It was noted by Bourbon Police Chief Bill Martin (at earlier council meetings) that being able to clearly identify an address was crucial to fire, police and EMS professionals to do their jobs. Town council members agreed that all homes and businesses would prominently display, with numerals no less than three inches in height, their addresses on the side of the street which the address includes. Zoning and ordinance officer Bill Keyser had mentioned that some houses had the correct numbers displayed but that they were shown on the wrong street that their address actually was — and that made it confusing for everyone that needed to make contact to the property. Councilmembers agreed to ordinance 2011-7 which would give property owners (or renters) 30 days to comply after receiving a letter from the town that they were in violation, and that they, beyond that 30-day time period, would be subject to fines and costs to enforce the ordinance’s compliance.
Councilmember Larry Wattenbarger commented on another ordinance violation concern: The 14 letters that had already been sent to property owners this spring for not properly maintaining their lawns. “I know we’ve had a lot of rain, but to me, this is an embarrassment,” he said. Keyser said he had already found as many (new properties) in May that were in violation of town ordinance and that a mere five were homes that had been foreclosed on.
Other items addressed included:
• Water department employees were instructed by the council to tend to standing water issues at Shells Inc. after general manager of the business, Matt Yeiter, brought the issue to the attention at the May 10 meeting. Yeiter said the problem had been ongoing and that six to eight years ago the town had attempted to resolve the issue to no avail. Wastewater supervisor Mike McFarland said the problem was further compounded by the fact that the town has no maps or history of intercepting routes to drainage tiles for the area of the property.
• Brandy Greer was appointed by the council to be the Town of Bourbon representative on the Bourbon Public Library Board. She will replace Alta Grossman for a four-year term.
• The town’s parking lot on Park Street was discussed and town officials agreed it was intended for the Amish community to use when doing business in town. Bourbon Town Council members agreed to have a sign posted to enforce the lot’s original purpose.
• It was noted that the Bourbon Community Park’s Splash Pad would be open to the public as of June 1.
• Street department superintendent Roger Terry was granted permission by the council to purchase two basketball rims for the community park’s basketball courts, for a cost of $170 each. It was noted that should the town would not replace them should they be vandalized.
• Town officials approved replacing the roof of the dugout at McBride Field at the town’s ball fields with a metal roof, for a cost of $300.
• Hap’s Home Repair was approved to begin work on repairing the front of the town hall building facing Main Street, for a cost of $465.