By Karen Cornelius
Committee reports/stormwater meeting: Vermilion City Council met on Monday, July 17. There was no correspondence, no council president or law director’s reports, and no old business. Under committee reports, councilman Fred Ostrander wanted to comment that Vermilion has lost a dear friend, Diane Chesnut, who did so many small and large things for the community. He said she will be missed.
Council president Steve Herron announced the Stormwater Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on Monday, August 7, at 6 p.m. before the next city council meeting. He urged the public to attend as there were important concerns on the agenda including Elberta Road and Liberty Avenue stormwater.
Mayor’s update/Park Drive parking: Mayor Eileen Bulan reminded everyone that Touch-A-Truck will be held on Saturday, July 22, at Victory Park between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Vermilion firefighters will also be hosting a pancake breakfast at station #1 on Ohio Street during these times. She said the first of a series of Movies in the Park will be Friday night, July 21, at East Exchange Park. The movie is “The Secret Life of Pets.” The mayor stated she just received notification that the former gas station lot at the corner of Liberty and Grand does have two impacted areas that will be excavated, filled, and more samples taken to then see if the areas are clean. The city can’t proceed to use the property until it’s given an all-clear certificate.
Lastly, the mayor offered the city’s condolences to the family of Diane Chesnut who was active in the community for many years.
Councilman Frank Loucka asked the mayor about the condemned building on Riverside. He said he had calls from neighbors who have seen rats. He asked if the fire department could possibly burn down this house for a training exercise. Mayor Bulan said she understood this property was up for sale and that the Erie County Health Department did come out and investigate. She said the training was a good idea if the property wasn’t sold.
Councilman Ostrander asked about the parking debate on Park Drive. He said there were no signs posted but the police were asking people to move if they parked across from Huggy’s on Park Drive where the former Burley business/house was. He stated the city should help business and all Huggy’s needed were three parking spaces there. Mayor Bulan responded that it is an un-curbed street and cars cannot park there. She said the property is privately owned by the Vermilion Lagoons. Law director Ken Stumphauzer agreed that people can’t park there and it’s private property. Council president Herron said people can’t park because it’s against the city’s code to park on the eastside of Park Drive. Ostrander asked permission to give the law director’s confidential opinion to council to a person asking questions. While the law director could not, Ostrander could if he wanted to do that as he was discussing it in public.
Service director’s report/water plant inspections/intake: Service director Tony Valerius told council members that on June 29, the city received the inspection report from Dixon Engineering for the sedimentation basin and beach well inspection, and the review they performed from the videos of clear wells 1 and 2, and the lake intake.
He said the sedimentation basin and the beach well showed some minor corrosion on the pipes that needs to be blasted and repainted. The roof of the sedimentation basin showed some minor cracks and exposed rebar that will be addressed, and the ladder in the beach well should be replaced. There were no major issues. Valerius said in regards to the clearwells and the lake intake, the clearwells have some cracks in the concreteand some minor spalling, and the lake intake has a moderate accumulation of Zebra Mussels which can be managed by feeding permanganate.
Based on Dixon Engineering’s inspections, a high risk of failure in the next 20 years is unlikely, and they recommend that the city perform the minor repairs needed to maintain the structures.
Council members all received this report as good news. Valerius said he was now working on the costs for the repairs, but they were minor.
Finance director’s update: Finance director Brian Keller reported on several finance department priorities. He said they have been working closely with the financial statement preparer, Lennon & Company, to correct the outstanding bank reconciliation issues and they are making progress. He stated that the department has received five public requests this year to date, all of which have been satisfied, mostly those from the Vermilion Port Authority. They were also working with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office on the Ohiocheckbook.com information. Keller said it was determined that it would be best if the city used its legacy accounting system to generate the 2016 upload file to alleviate the vendor issue they were having. Keller said after they upload this a website will be built to make financial information available to the public.
Additionally, the department was asked by ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) to provide 2015 federal schedule data. He said they had to spend time going back and verifying records are accurate and at the same time verifying that 2016 and 2017 federal awards are tracked accurately.
Open to the audience/Elberta Road problems: Elberta Road resident Carl Hill thanked the city for fixing the northend of the street. He said residents were asking if taking the water south of Liberty down Elberta was still an option or a dead issue. He said he drove all four streets that could reach the lake and they all had tortoise shelling which would freeze in the winter, then chunk up and create potholes. He asked if the city could find money to tar and chip and seal Elberta after heavy trucks had come down and damaged the street. He asked the city to put low weight limits on the street. Mayor Bulan pointed out garbage trucks and buses still have to come down the street. Residents still had the problem of deep ditches hard to maintain. Hill suggested they bring the stormwater down Elberta because there is no significant water in those ditches. He was told Elberta is on the Stormwater Advisory agenda for August 7.
Parks levy ordinance: Reading the ordinances started off with a third reading of an ordinance to send a one-mill tax levy for parks and recreational purposes to the voters and directing the boards of election of Erie and Lorain counties to place this question on the ballot for the November 7 general election.
Councilwoman Barb Brady said this was a tough one for her, and she respected the voters right to decide on the levy. She said the levy would generate about $270,000 per year for parks. However, they would still retain the general fund money given to them at $164,000 this year. She said that would give parks a total of $434,000 per year if the levy were successful. She just wanted to make sure voters understood what was happening. She stated that 5-6 years ago, the general fund transfer was $60,000 and has climbed up $100,000.
Disagreeing with Brady, council president Herron hoped the voters would look at other communities and their parks and programs and see how much better their offerings were compared to what Vermilion has. He said parks are an important matter for this community. Mayor Bulan agreed and said there are 53 acres of parks including three lakefront parks. She said with the little money given to the parks in the past, they were not very well maintained. Now, there are large groups of volunteers trying to maintain some of them which can’t last forever. Council then adopted the levy request by emergency.
Reading city ordinances: A third and final reading was given to an ordinance to amend the 2017 budget for minor changes. Finance director Keller said these were readjustments and reclassification of accounts to make sure they were in compliance. The ordinance was adopted by emergency. A first reading was given to an ordinance to rezone land on Vermilion Road, about 3 acres, from A-1 Agricultural District to R-1 Estate Residence District. There was a public hearing scheduled for Monday, August 14, at 7 p.m. City engineer Lynn Miggins said she would explain the details to council before the public hearing. A first reading was given to a resolution approving the 2018 tax budget. The rules were suspended, and the budget adopted by emergency. Finance director Keller said this goes to the Erie County Auditor to certify the city’s levies and rates. It’s something they do every year and isn’t binding.
City council’s schedule: Vermilion City Council will meet again on Monday, August 7, at 7 p.m. at the municipal complex on Decatur Street. There are no meetings on July 24 and 31.