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Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Village solicitor to request court to decide financial responsibility

Verizon fails to negotiate terms for moving overhead wires underground

By Margie Wuebker
MINSTER - Village council members Tuesday night authorized solicitor James Hearn to file declaratory action in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court to determine who is responsible for the cost of moving overhead wires underground as part of the Fourth Street Reconstruction project. The necessary paperwork will be filed June 1.
"We have attempted to negotiate with Verizon and there has been no constructive response," Hearn said as village administrator Don Harrod nodded in agreement. "The time has come to ask the court to determine who has financial responsibility."
The project, which will be put out for bid later this year, involves not only reconstruction but the creation of a streetscape. The village wants all overhead wires removed and placed underground.
In addition to Verizon, others having overhead wires include the village, Time Warner and NKTelco. Harrod said the village intends to take down its lines as do the two cable television companies. Verizon officials have been contacted on numerous occasions without success, leading Hearn to conclude the time has come to determine the matter judicially.
Dr. Greg Bergman came to the meeting to express concern about the fate of the local youth building that currently serves as home to Boy Scout Troop 44, other youth groups and various senior citizen activities. He apparently became concerned after hearing a presentation regarding the Fourth Street project at a Minster Civic Association meeting.
"Since comments were made about Garfield Street becoming the front door to the village, I assumed you planned to tear the Scout house down," Bergman said. "It's part of our heritage and I don't want to see it gone."
The building, constructed with donations from residents and businesses, sets on village property at the corner of Fourth and Garfield streets.
"We have 30 to 40 Eagle Scouts here in the Minster area and some of us are willing to pony up," the local physician said. "I would like something formal, like a long-term lease for when you guys are no longer council and I'm not around anymore."
He added the Scout house is not handicap-accessible for senior citizen activities held there and parking is limited.
"Boy Scouts don't need parking space, they need bike space," Bergman said.
Council members indicated there are no plans to tear down the building with Mayor Dennis Kitzmiller stating, "Everybody wants to see the facility stay here."
Members of the parks and recreation committee plan to meet with Scout officials in the coming weeks to discuss the matter further.
Also at the meeting, council:
• Received good news in the form of a lower-than-expected bid for the 2010 minor street resurfacing project. Freisthler Paving of Sidney submitted a low bid of $123,740.85, well less than the engineering estimate of $178,750. Harrod said the plan included paving half the width of Lincoln Street and now the full width is a possibility.
• Learned village officials are compiling needed information as requested by the Environmental Protection Agency in regard to $86,000 in federal Brownfield funding for cleanup of the former Minster Oil Company site along Fourth Street. The property, which is now owned by the village, has contaminants in the soil from an old business that closed decades ago.
• Received official notification from the Ohio Public Works Commission that the village will receive $73,080 for proposed improvements to the Seventh Street railroad crossing. The project, which includes installation of a new pre-constructed concrete crossing and curbs as well as paving, carries an estimated price tag of $87,000. Work will commence after July 1.
• Heard an update on the Ohio Department of Transportation's resurfacing project along state Routes 119 and 66. Crews are replacing sidewalk handicap ramps along state Route 119 and the work will move to state Route 66 once they reach Garfield Street. Grinding and paving will begin in June. 1.
• Hired part-time seasonal employees including swimming pool personnel and two workers each for the parks and public works departments. The pool opens Monday.
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - Most of city council is on board to gain revenue by asking voters to increase income or property taxes.
All council members at a meeting Tuesday agreed that something must be placed on the November election ballot. Councilman Jeff Larmore was absent from the meeting. [More]
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