Culver council details downtown progress, billing issues

Most Culver residents are aware that work resumed two weeks ago on Culver's downtown revitalization project. At the Oct. 23 meeting of Culver's town council, some insight was given as to how that action came about, following the ceasing of work from Oct. 9 to 16.

Replying to a query from resident Tom Kearns about the decisions made during meetings with representatives of the town, engineering firm DLZ, and contracting company Reith Reilly, council president Sally Ricciardi said elevation was adjusted from two percent to a half percent in front of business' doorways in the affected two blocks on downtown, which consequently raised the height of curbs. Work had halted Oct. 9 due to a wide variation in curb heights in the original engineering plans for the grant-funded project, which will replace sidewalks and curbs, and make various enhancements to the appearance of the Main Street business district.

"They've done core samples," Ricciardi added, "and they will be milling down, in the spring, the amount of old asphalt in the gutter area to drop it as much as possible. Curbs will be between four and six inches, depending on their actual location, without having to tear up bricks and going to the extreme cost of redoing the actual street."

She added a complete re-do of the street would force the closing of businesses downtown, "and we definitely don't want to do that."

It is planned, however, to repave Main Street in the affected area in the spring. She noted there will be no additional cost to the corrections in the initial engineering plan.

"The engineer that was coming to Culver is no longer coming to Culver or in charge of this project," Ricciardi explained, referring back to various concerns with the handling of the project's engineering. "The vice president of the (engineering) company is in charge of it now."

Also relating to work on the revitalization project was discussion of one business owner's concerns over placement of a lamp post near the business. Town manager Dave Schoeff said he had spoken to the building owner, but the town is beholden to its plan regarding placement of the post.

"Once you start moving light posts," he noted, "there will be a spot not lit. You either have to move all of them so you have the same radius, or you'll have spots not lit (at night)."

It was also noted tree plantings to replace removed trees downtown would take place in the spring, rather than this fall.
The council also passed its 2013 budget on final reading during the meeting.

The future of distributing residents' water bills came to the fore after Jeff Mansfield, part-time of Lakeview Street and full-time of suburbs of Chicago, said an issue had arisen of late regarding timeliness of receiving his water bill.

Mansfield said bills have been arriving to his Illinois address increasingly later in the month, something he said was also happening to a friend of his, which creates a challenge this fall and winter, when he will be less frequently in Culver to pay his bill in person. He noted while online payments are possible, they do require an extra fee.

Town clerk Karen Heim said printing and mailing of bills has not changed, but once they leave Culver, bills are "out of our hands." She said her office has spoken to postal representatives in the Chicago area and been told the postcard size of the bills is part of the delay, though "we can't change that overnight."

Heim also said the staff would be happy to tell any resident the amount of his or her water bill if they call the town hall.
Also, said Heim, companies have been contacted for pricing on optional email billing.

"It's been frustrating for us, too," she added, noting closing of some post offices between Culver and Chicago may also be affecting the speed of delivery.

Council member Ginny Munroe suggested the town could be lenient with late fees for those with Chicago addresses.

The council also passed, on second and third readings, an ordinance to establish a gift fund for the town of Culver, specifically for the collection of donated monies towards the already-purchased town clock planned for placement at Jefferson and Main Streets next spring.

However, Heim noted the fund can be used in the future for other projects to which residents may wish to donate. Munroe added she is investigating the possibility of a fund to accept such donations through the Marshall County Community Foundation, which would allow donors tax deductible donations not possible if donating directly to the town.

In response to an audience question, Heim noted $5,295 out of the total $8,000 cost of the clock had already been donated.
During his department head report, Culver EMS director Bob Cooper Jr. told the council an electrical fire took place recently in the ambulance garage, after a cord which plugs into the ambulance malfunctioned. Lindvall electric, he said, determined there was a loose wire in the plug.

"Luckily there were people in the (ambulance) bay when it happened," he said, "but what concerned us was that no breakers ever blew, even though it got hot enough. We have no fire detection or protection in this building."

Cooper added he purchased both fire and carbon monoxide detectors himself and placed them in the ambulance bay and department sleeping area.

Cooper also noted the town's computer server is in its fourth week of being down, and asked what can be done in terms of support for the computer.

He said the department was unable to access some bills as a result of the situation.

Heim said parts have been ordered for the server, and contracted IT serviceman Mike Stallings Jr. is expected to make the repairs at the weekend.

A work session with members of the council and EMS representatives was also scheduled for Nov. 6 at 6 p.m., to discuss the future of the EMS and various options.

During her clerk's report, Heim said she had investigated the possibility of state-based health insurance for town employees, at council's direction, and found the existing, private carrier more economical, in some cases by half.