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Ripley board votes to research public works

April 16, 2015
Westfield Republican

By David Prenatt

RIPLEY- Although it was not on the agenda for their April 9 meeting, members of the Ripley town board voted unanimously to research the process of establishing a public works department in the municipality.

During the "privilege of the floor" time, Ripley's attorney, Michael Bolender, urged council members to consider combining the highway and the water/sewer department into one. With several large projects being planned for the coming years, a centralized department is essential, he said.

Bolender said that a transition to a unified department is in the best interest of the town. There would be cross-training and CDL licenses for almost all public works employees, thereby allowing most sewer, water and streets projects to be completed by local labor he said. Such a move would eventually require a mandatory public referendum.

"If you are going to move in the direction we talked about tonight, you've got to get the people involved trained," he said. "This involves higher-paid positions, higher-trained employees, centralized control and planning and securing employees for the futures."

Board member Patricia Hathaway noted that she had she has been this idea for several years. "I agree with you 100 percent," she said. "I've been talking about it for three years and I think we need to move forward with it."

The formation of a public works department arose after citizens convened prior to the board meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the extension of the waterline east. According to Deputy Town Supervisor Michael Rowe, many questions were raised. However, the majority of residents are in favor of the project, he said.

Town Supervisor Douglas Bowen commented that, as far as he can see, "The quarterly ready-to-serve fee and bond fee should be per property owner, not per parcel." Bowen added that it is necessary for the town to get preliminary work done before it is can apply for a grant.

Supervisor Bowen reiterated that the town is looking at a four-phase project which will include sewer service to Route 5 west; water to Route 5 east; water to Route 5 West; and repair of the town's infrastructure Sewer service to Route 5 west is the priority at this time, he said.

Bolender dealt with the question of whether or not seasonal residents will be able to vote on the sewer and water referendums. He said that, to the best of his knowledge, only citizens who are registered to vote in Ripley would be able to cast a ballot on this issue.

The board passed a resolution to begin the process of defining water districts. The cost of marking out districts is not to exceed $5,000. "We're districting a large area so we don't have to incur this cost again," mentioned Bowen.

The board also passed a resolution to establish a new proposed sewer district, with the cost not to exceed $5,000. This district will extend only as far east as Wiley Road.

In other business, Bowen presented a letter from the Ripley Bicentennial Committee which asks for the use of town property to conduct a household/craft/antique sale on May 22, 23, and 24. The board approved the request. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Bicentennial Committee.

Deputy Supervisor Michael Rowe offered an update on the status of the acquisition of an LED sign for the town. He noted that a 40 x 72 inch sign is going to work best for the town and he reminded board members that a V-shaped, two-sided sign is being sought. Because of wide discrepancies in the bids received by the town, the board voted to table the matter until more information can be obtained.

Town Clerk Rebecca Carvallo told the board that there are new security cameras in the Town Clerk's office and door chimes have been installed to alert employees to the entrance of guests. Carvallo mentioned that she has received several calls about disposal of electronics in the town.

Members of the board announced that collection of large trash and recycled items will take place on May 2 and May 9 and this will include the collection of electronics. It was noted that the town board is currently looking for volunteers to oversee the E-recycling collection.

Also during the "privilege of the floor" time, a dispute arose after Ripley resident Daniel Scriven said that the old feed mill needs to be torn down or repaired. Scriven, who owns property next to the mill, said the mill had a large crack in its floor and the roof is in danger of falling. He also said there has been a problem with rats living in the mill.

Scriven's comments met with an immediate reaction from Michael Kohler, one of the partners who recently purchased the mill. He related the events of an "altercation" he had had with Scrivens and said he had told him that plans were underway to repair and renovate the mill.



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