Roanoke Park closer to getting new pedestrian bridges

The installation of new pedestrian bridges at Roanoke Park is one step closer to happening, the Roanoke Town Council learned at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The town’s supervisor of operations, Phil Hib-bert, announced that the town had received a $20,000 grant from the Huntington County Community Foundation for the project. The pursuit of the grant was a joint effort between the town and the Roanoke Beautification Foundation.

The town already had $5,000 in place for the project, with Bippus State Bank and Stephan DRP each contributing $2,500. Hibbert estimated the total cost of the project would be around $63,000.

The project will see the park’s existing concrete bridges replaced by wider, wooden bridges.

“My goal is to have two new bridges up late spring, early summer,” said Hibbert.

In gratitude for Hibbert’s successful effort to secure a Community Crossings matching grant for the town earlier this year, council voted to award him a 1.5 percent bonus based on the total of the grant, which is $567,232.50.

The town was awarded the grant by the Indiana Department on Transpor-tation on Sept. 22, with the funds earmarked for street improvement pro-jects totaling $756,310.

The board received an update on the status of building code violations at 775 Seminary St. from the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development. Mandy Woods and Greg Ricker, the department’s executive director and building inspector, respectively, reported that they observed minimal progress on the resolution of violations when they inspected the property’s exterior earlier that day. The most noteworthy development at the property since DCD’s previ-ous inspection of it on Aug. 30, said Woods, was that framing had begun on a second-story addition.

For failing to make better progress on bringing the structure into building code compliance, council leveled a $5,000 civil penalty at the dwelling’s occupant, Casandra Emley, who is buying it on contract. The penalty is for willful failure to comply with DCD’s continuing order of enforcement, which outlines the building code violations.

Upon receiving notice of the fine, Emley will have 10 days to challenge it in court and 15 days to pay it. If the fine goes unpaid, it will be assessed as a lien against the property.

Emley already owes the town $11,000 in fines, all for willful failure to comply. Those fines were on Emley’s fall property tax bill, said Ricker, but have not been paid.

The board has the authority to assess another $5,000 fine in 90 days if it remains unsatisfied with Emley’s progress. Council can continue issuing penalties in 90-day intervals for as long as it deems necessary.

DCD will conduct another inspection of the property in March, at the board’s behest.

In other business:

Council passed its 2018 salary ordinances for elected officials and town employees. Prior to passing the latter ordinance, the board amended it to include a provision granting 30 vacation days to employees upon logging 35 years of continuous service to the town.

Hibbert noted that he would discuss the clean-ing up of the town’s brush pile with Fox Contractors Corp. when representatives visited the town on Dec. 6.

The board renewed the town’s PHP employee healthcare plan. Council also re-upped its contract with Huntington County Economic Development for $3,000.