Markle residents will be able to get help for sidewalk repair, installs

Markle residents will be able to get substantial help to replace, rehab or install sidewalks along their properties, after the Markle Town Council updated its matching sidewalk program during it regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Town Superintendent Rick Asher said he had trouble with contractors returning his calls with estimates on what the cost would be to replace the town’s sidewalks.

“We did get a rough estimate of approximately $25 per linear foot,” Asher said, adding that sidewalks are the responsibility of the homeowner, and must meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, especially on curb cuts at corner intersections.

Councilman Aaron McClary noted the $25 cost is much more updated than the $6.50 per foot the town offered the last time it addressed the sidewalk replacement program, about 20 or 30 years ago.

“The purpose of this whole thing is to incentivize the upkeep and improvement of sidewalks,” he said. “It’s not just a handout. I’d be most comfortable with setting a standard rate for everyone and some sort of a max cap.”

Asher recommended the town pay $12 per linear foot or pay 50 percent of the cost if homeowners get the work done themselves. He noted a typical lot is 60 feet by 130 feet.

Clerk-Treasurer Carolyn Hamilton said she recalls approximately $12,000 has been set aside in the town’s general fund for sidewalks.

After discussion, the council decided by consensus it will pay $25 per linear foot for up to 250 feet of sidewalk per year for sidewalk replacements that meet ADA standards.

On another issue, a bid from E&B Paving was unanimously accepted at $285,258.08 for the 2020 Community Crossings Matching Grant paving project. That amount is $40,000 below the grant, said Mitch Hansel of Fleis & Vandenbrink, who presented the bid to the council. The Indiana Department of Transportation will pay 75 percent of the cost, most of which is road resurfacing.

Streets affected are Country Side Drive from Logan to Tracy; High Street from Scott to Logan; High Street from Logan to Hoover; Haflich Street from 2nd to 254 feet north of 2nd Street; Brickley Street from Allen to the dead end; Girvin Street from Clark to the town limits; Mercury Street from Clark to the town limits; Allen Street from Brickley to the dead end; Hale Street from Clark to Maddux; 2nd Street from County Line to Haflich; Windridge Street from Clark to Tracy; CR600N from Tracy to the town limits; and Gardner Court from South to the cul-de-sac.

The council also unanimously approved an estimate from Beavans Farms Inc. for $12,000 to improve 4,000 feet of side ditch reconstruction to make it the proper grade and drain off flooding from the north section of town.

Council President Mark Hamilton explained that about a year ago the council voted to pay $6,000, with Wells County and the farm contributing the other $6,000 to make repairs to alleviate the flooding.

“The Wells County Drainage Board just couldn’t get things going,” he said, in response to McClary’s question as to why it was taking so long to be approved.

Asher said Wells County wanted to look at different options. However, he said the simplest solution would be to reconstruct the existing ditch, plus ditches in an adjacent housing addition, mainly on Mercury and Girvin streets.

“All that water has to get to Marzane Road to go north,” he said.

With the approval of the job estimate, the Wells County Highway Department will pay the remaining $6,000, Mark Hamilton said.

In other action items:

• The council approved Resolution 2019-10, which authorizes the town clerk-treasurer to transfer $95,684 from the General Fund to the Rainy Day Fund for future use. That amount is 10 percent of the 2019 General Fund budget.

• Council approved the annual fee of $4,000 for the Huntington County United Economic Development. HCUED Executive Director Mark Wickersham said 2019 was the best year he has had since he joined the organization, with 19 industrial client projects at just under $60 million, breaking the former record of $40 million in 2016.

Those projects included selling the final 10 acres at Markle Industrial Park, the annexation of the Lund farm property into town limits, securing a 50-acre option agreement with Warpup Farms, supported the growth of ATC on the west side of town and working on “Project Wire” to bring broadband service to town residents.

• Councilmen accepted a bid of $4,235 from John McCabe to purchase a tractor the town no longer needs.

• Donations to Youth Services Bureau in the amount of $100 and Markle Scout Troop 128 in the amount of $250 were also approved.
The meeting was Mark Hamilton’s final council meeting. McClary noted his service, saying he served “faithfully and with integrity, and always with due diligence.”

“I know I speak on behalf of many to say thank you for what you’ve done for this community,” he added. “Also thank you that you’re going to continue to be involved. Maybe not this role, but you and your wife (Carolyn Hamilton) have been a great blessing, an asset to our community for a long time. We’re very grateful for your leadership and your service.”

Councilman Matthew Doss said the council has weighed heavily on Hamilton’s knowledge in the past, especially since he and McClary are relatively new members to the council. Hamilton will be replaced by Nicolas Lund, and McClary will take over as council president, starting with the next meeting on Jan. 15, 2020.