MECHANICSBURG – The Main and High 12-inch Waterline Improvements Project, anticipated to be completed later this year, will be partially funded by the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC), Village Council learned Monday.
“We got the official letter that we were awarded the grant that we applied for through OPWC for the phase 1 waterline project in the amount of $278,283,” Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis said. “The money will be available on July 1.”
The project, which has an estimated price tag of $818,480, will replace 6- and 8-inch water mains along West Main Street and High Street with 12-inch mains.
Huggins-Davis said the project is needed to replace aging infrastructure and to address water concerns at the school complex on High Street.
“Water lines are 80 to 90 years old throughout the village, and this project will also help with creating more flow to the school to help with fire suppression,” she said.
Residents villagewide should see increased flow with the new mains, especially those living near the project area.
Along with the replacement of the water mains, all service taps from the water main to the curb stop will be replaced. Service lines from the curb stop to residential or commercial properties won’t be included as they are the responsibility of property owners, Huggins-Davis said.
In order to move forward with the project, village officials are putting together the necessary paperwork to apply for financing through the Ohio Water Development Authority to fund the portion of the project not covered through the OPWC grant.
Addressing junk cars
Village Zoning Officer Dusty Hurst told council he sent several letters in the past week regarding abandoned vehicles after receiving complaints from residents about cars that are in plain sight and not properly tagged, are immobile or have been wrecked.
Mayor Greg Kimball reminded residents that this issue is addressed in a village ordinance. He said village officials are going to start cracking down on those who don’t adhere to it.
“It’s against the ordinance to store an unlicensed or inoperable (disabled, junked or wrecked) vehicle on the street or on private property for more than seven days without being indoors,” he said. “On March 1, we are going to start enforcing the ordinance. We’ve been pretty lax on it, but it’s getting to the point where people are complaining and there is enough of them out there.”
Kimball added some people are now putting dummies in their cars to make it appear as though the cars are occupied.
Starting the first of March, vehicles found in violation within village limits will be tagged with a warning ticket. After the warning period, the village will begin enforcing the ordinance. Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $100 per day.
To remain in compliance, Hurst said, any unlicensed or inoperable vehicle must be stored in an enclosed structure where it can’t be seen.
In other business:
•Huggins-Davis informed council she is gathering estimates from engineering firms about the cost of evaluating and prioritizing street needs.
“I think we need to start focusing on the streets,” she said. “We’ve focused on water and sewer, and the streets have kind of been neglected. There is not a lot of money around to do this with, but we need to take what little money we have and do the best that we can with it.”
•Council heard the second reading of the “demolition by neglect” ordinance that, if passed after three readings, would create the Vacant Building Maintenance Enforcement Program (Section 592), a supplement of the Mechanicsburg Village Zoning Ordinance.
A public hearing to discuss the proposed measure will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 in the municipal building.
•Hurst addressed a comment he made during the Jan. 16 meeting. He had said the “demolition by neglect” ordinance is a way to address the current state of various buildings in the downtown area before the village becomes “Milford Center or Woodstock.” He said his comment wasn’t meant to be a slam on either village.
“The mere point I was making is that our neighboring villages had very viable downtowns at one point,” Hurst said. “Their buildings were kept, and it’s disheartening to drive through those areas and see empty buildings now.”
•Following several water main breaks in the past month, Huggins-Davis said Purdum Blacktop II was called in to repair the asphalt in these locations at a cost of $3,200.
•The Mechanicsburg Police Department and Kathy Crews from the U.S. Air Force Security Division are teaming up to host a free self-defense class that will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 5 in the Mechanicsburg High School gymnasium. Any village resident interested in participating in the class is asked to RSVP by Feb. 28 by calling the police department at 937-834-3303 or visiting its Facebook page (Mechanicsburg Ohio Police Department).
•Police Chief John Alexander said while no arrests have been made in connection with the two sexual assault cases, his department continues to work leads with help from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Residents were reminded not believe everything they read on social media concerning the cases unless the information comes directly from law enforcement. The police department will update the public on any developments in either case via its Facebook page.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304.