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Former town hall improvement, occupancy projects underway

Former town hall improvement, occupancy projects underway Former town hall improvement, occupancy projects underway
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer

The Georgetown Town Council approved parking lot upgrades for its vacant former town hall and agreed to negotiate with a prospective occupant for the facility during its regular council meeting last Tuesday evening at the Optimist Club.

Council president Chris Loop, who earlier in the meeting was re-elected by his peers to lead the board in 2021, said a request for usage proposals for the old town hall was presented in October and four possibilities emerged. Three of the concepts were for food service establishments and one by the Floyd County Public Library.

The council, after review and discussion, voted 3-0 (council members Billy and Kathy Haller were absent) to move forward in talks with local residents wishing to establish a butcher shop in the old town hall space.

Loop said under the preliminary agreement, the building would be leased for $1 per year, with an option to purchase. No additional funding would be necessary from the town.

Under the butcher shop proposal, the proprietors also pledged to make improvements to the building to suit their purposes. If terms are reached, there will be a public hearing to review the matter in further detail.

Loop added the council would like to continue working with the other applicants to bring their visions to Georgetown, just in different buildings.

In the first of two sealed bid openings conducted by town engineer Bob Woosley, quotes for resurfacing and lighting upgrades for the old town hall were also revealed to the council. Woosley read estimates from six firms ranging from $80,521 to $197,700. Low bidder (at $80,521) was Merrel Bierman Excavating of Clarksville.

The council voted in favor of Woosley’s recommendation that it take all bids under advisement and, pending satisfactory submission review, award the contract to Merrel Bierman.

Woosley also asked the council to consider adding $10,000 to the budget for lighting, which the council also approved. Lighting components will be provided by the town and installed by contractors during the project.

The second opening conducted as part of Woosley’s report was for a sewer repair project for the Lakeland subdivision. A late 2020 ruling by the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission granted Georgetown authority to take over Lakeland’s sewer system. The project will rehabilitate the system, and residents will pay a surcharge to Georgetown. Two bids were received, and Cornell Harbison Excavating of Georgetown was named low bidder, at $252,454.50.

The council voted to award the contract to Cornell Harbison, contingent upon Woosley’s review of all documentation.

Loop said the council was pleased with the bids it received, which were below the budget initially established.

“I’m very happy with the quotes we have tonight,” he added.

Woosley echoed Loop’s comments with regard to both bid openings.

“I’d like to thank everyone for submitting quotes on both projects,” he said.

In another ongoing matter, the council discussed sale of a parcel of town-owned land at 9000 S.R. 64, at the intersection of S.R. 64 and Kepley Road. Adjoining property owners Morton and Darlene Kellams have been maintaining the lot for many years and recently approached the town council about purchasing it.

In observance of state statute, two appraisals were ordered for the property and have been completed, Loop said. Based on appraisal results, and seeking to recoup its costs, Loop recommended the town establish a reserve purchase price of $1,800.

The council also passed, after two readings, an update to an existing ordinance governing purchase of real property, whereby the threshold for assessed value was raised from $15,000 to $16,500. It also voted in favor of a resolution to pursue a purchase agreement for the land with the Kellams at a price of $1,800.

Loop added the town would likely seek to retain a signage easement on the land as part of the agreement. In addition, he said, due to current town planning and zoning limitations for setback requirements, nothing could be built on the land.

Woosley also addressed the council about an application underway for the town to pursue selection for a Community Crossings matching grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation. Applications are due Jan. 29, Woosley said, adding that the town had been successful in the past obtaining these grants.

Woosley explained for towns such as Georgetown (population below 10,000), 25% of project costs must be borne by the town, with 75% provided as the grant award through INDOT. Woosley stressed the town has to be able to show it could cover the entire cost of the project as part of the application process.

As part of its Community Crossings grant application (funds are earmarked by INDOT for road and street improvement projects), Woosley said the town would pursue funds totaling $237,650, which would mean it would be responsible for $59,413 with, if awarded, INDOT providing the remaining, $178,237. The council voted to allow Loop to sign the funds commitment letter so pursuit of the grant could continue.

In closing remarks, Loop thanked fellow councilmen Gary Smith and Ben Stocksdale, who was named council vice president, for voting to keep him as council president.

“Nobody else wanted it,” Smith quipped.

“He’s not lying,” Loop added, as the three shared a laugh.

Smith turned serious to acknowledge his thoughts about Loop’s leadership of the council.

“All joking aside, I think you’ve done a wonderful job,” Smith said. “I appreciate your hard work.”

In other business, the council:

Voted to retain Woosley as town engineer and Kristi Fox as town attorney for 2021.

Re-appointed Clerk-
Treasurer Julie Keibler as Georgetown’s representative on the Floyd County Plan Commission and Stocksdale as the town’s representative on the county’s solid waste management board.

Heard from police Sgt. Travis Speece that vehicle break-ins have been on the rise around Georgetown Township, right outside the town limits. Speece recommended residents ensure vehicles are locked.

Received updates about ongoing construction projects, including Catalpa Ridge retention basin (complete with exception of some required road patching); Georgetown Park basketball court improvements (awaiting Duke Energy’s removal of a light pole before parking lot work can continue; underground electrical work completed); NovaPark (testing and start-up of sewer lift station complete); and Lakeland (work continues to obtain a utility easement for the area where the dam is located).

Agreed to retain membership on the Southern Indiana Storm Water Advisory Committee. Woosley said belonging to the organization presented several benefits for the town, including assistance with bi-annual reporting.

The council’s next regular meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Georgetown Optimist Club building.