Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Council OKs sidewalk subsidy plan, raises city's share to $1,000 per project; discusses Main St. rest room idea

The Midway City Council amended and approved a policy Tuesday night for fixing the city's sidewalks, after hearing that some repairs may be so expensive that only a few projects will be completed with the $27,000 the city has in its budget for the work.

"We'll be lucky to get to four" projects, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, after Council Member Bruce Southworth estimated that 12 projects could be done and Council Member Steven Craig estimated eight to 10. Council Member Libby Warfield said, "I think you could have $15,000 on some of these."

Vandegrift said earlier that while many sidewalks need repair, "The vast majority that are not in great shape are not a priority."

The council passed a resolution saying that the council will establish a list of sidewalk projects that are needed for safety reasons, take bids for the work, and notify the property owners that it will pay half the cost, up to $1,000, if they will pay the rest. If a selected property owner refuses to participate, the city could pay the entire cost and place a lien on the property, which would have to be satisfied if and when the property is sold.

The city-funded limit on each project was originally going to be $500, but the council raised that to $1,000 after concluding that $500 might not go very far. Council Member Sara Hicks said she received an estimate of $1,200 for replacing 13 feet of brick sidewalk for which she has the bricks.

At Hicks's suggestion, the council also changed the resolution to specify that property owners with any delinquent taxes or blighted property in the city will not be eligible for the city subsidy. The original draft applied only to property with dangerous sidewalks.

Hicks asked if the council could make accommodation for property owners who can't come up with all the money at once, but she withdrew the idea after city attorney Phil Moloney asked if owners of commercial buildings would get the same treatment and Southworth said, "You have to be fair across the board."

After agreeing on other changes, the council passed the resolution 5-0. Council Member Nita Faye Gallagher, who has a sidewalk that might qualify for the program, abstained.

Public rest room on Main Street?

In other business, the council encouraged Midway Renaissance to investigate the group's idea for a public rest room on Main Street for evening and weekend visitors who don't patronize the restaurants, but declined to embrace the idea outright.

Renaissance President Jo Blease said the need for a public restroom "seems to be a consistent complaint that people hear," but "We really can't proceed unless we know that's something you all would be supportive of."

Vandegrift said, "That can't be a priority for the city unless there are some private funds." Blease asked whether it was something the council would like to see Renaissance focus on. Craig said, "I would like to see you focus on something else, other than that."

Other council members didn't say likewise, and discussed the possibility of building a rest room in the rental side of City Hall or creating a new entrance to City Hall's rear bathroom and blocking access from it to the rest of the building. Council Member Dan Roller said that would require more security for the building's upstairs tenants.

Roller moved that the council support Renaissance's investigation of the idea, and the motion passed unanimously.

Earlier, Roller suggested that Renaissance work with the Midway Business Association on the idea, because "They would be a good judge if a lot of people ask about rest rooms." Blease told the council that MBA President Kenny Smith had suggested Renaissance pursue a rest room as a project. The subject was not mentioned at Wednesday morning's MBA meeting, which lacked a quorum but discussed other topics, such as support from the county Tourism Commission for advertising.

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