Warren council delays decison on funding request for ditch repairs

A request from Huntington County Surveyor Jay Poe for financial assistance in the rehabilitation of a drainage ditch near Warren was put on hold Monday, Nov. 13, by the Warren Town Council so it can run the proposition past its financial consultant.

Poe said necessary repairs to the Keller-Andrews Drain, located just north of I-69 at the Ind.-5 intersection, will put the maintenance fund for that drain $9,272.31 in the red.

“When the drain fund is in the hole, we normally charge the property owners,” Poe told the council.

Usually, the property owner that will receive the most benefit from the work is charged the bulk of the cost of repairs, he said. In this case, that property was recently purchased by JM Hotels Inc. from TD Wall Inc., and Poe says he’s reluctant to place responsibility for the bill on a company that has owned the property only since August.

“I don’t think it looks good to give the owner a bill before they even submit their plans,” Poe said.

Poe asked the council to consider paying for the ditch repairs with TIF funds, or use TIF funds to pay half the cost and request CEDIT funds for the remaining half.

Alternately, Poe said, the town could support a request to pay for the entire project out of CEDIT money.

“I understand the spirit of what you’re asking for,” Councilman Tracey Brown said. But, he added, he needs more information before making a decision.

“I’d feel better if we had a week or so to get some of this figured out,” Council President Julia Glessner said.

The council agreed to take Poe’s request under advisement, ask the town financial consultant to review it and give Poe an answer, at the latest, during its next meeting on Dec. 18.

In other business:

• Council approved a request by Jay Knefelkamp, representing Indiana US-SSA, to rent the softball diamonds at Tower Park for a fast pitch softball tournament this summer.

Knefelkamp said he also plans to use diamonds at Southern Wells and Markle for the tournament, which would draw youth travel teams ranging from 8U to 16U.

A date for the tournament will be determined.

• Chamber of Commerce representative Jeff Souder introduced a proposal to purchase and plant a 14-foot pine tree at a new park under development in the downtown Warren area.

That tree could eventually be used as the town Christmas tree, ending the practice of finding, cutting down and installing a tree at the corner of the Town Hall building.

Utilities Superintendent Lee Poulson says it becomes more difficult each year to find a suitable tree to cut down.

“The tree we’re getting this year isn’t a very good tree,” Poulson said.

Souder said it would cost $995 to purchase and plant a pine tree at the park. No decision was made on the proposal.

• Council members awarded a contract for the demolition of a house at 103 E. 4th St. to Zahm Excavating. Zahm will demolish the house at a cost of $8,490, the lowest of three bids received.

The owner of the house, Xtac LLC, had asked for a two-year extension on the deadline to complete repairs to the house. However, Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development staff member Marla Stambazze recommended ag-ainst granting that request.

“We’ve already given him two years,” she said.

Another dilapidated house the DCD has been dealing with, at 315 Main St., is being purchased by the Warren Church of Christ and will be torn down and the lot covered with gravel, probably before Christmas.