Board OKs more mowings

Crawfordsville code enforcement officer Barry Lewis received approval at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting to mow three more yards. 

Two of the three properties will be mowed by city street department workers for the second time this season and one property will receive a first mowing.

The two repeat mowings are at 701 E. College St. and 508 John St. Both properties are owned by Indianapolis-based Sustainable Solutions. 

Lewis said the city has mowed these properties in past years and expects to all season long at $150 per mowing. 

Amy Cating of the clerk’s office said Sustainable Solutions has not paid the city for mowing. Several liens have been placed onto the company’s tax statement. 

When the company pays its taxes, it has been reimbursing the city for the work, including lien filing fees. 

A third property at 1410 W. Main St., owned by Martha Seymour, will be mowed for the first time this season if not taken care of by the end of the week.

The city recently acquired the PNC Bank building to convert it into Fusion 54, a Stellar project. With the purchase, the city will now start paying Marilyn Asher for janitorial services. 

Mayor Todd Barton said the third floor of the bank building is now empty as the previous owner, TPI, Inc., vacated its space and moved out of the downtown area. 

Barton told Crawfordsville Common Council committee members on  Monday he expects the remaining tenants, except for PNC, to be moving by the end of the year.

Street commissioner Scott Hesler reported city residents have until Sunday to get their storm debris to the curbside for Monday pickup.

In other business the BOW:

• Approved a Crawfordsville Fire Department probationary firefighter manual aimed to standardize training for new personnel.

• Granted the closing of Green Street between Main and Market streets from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday for the CFD Cancer Benefit Motorcycle Ride.

City secures key real estate for Fusion 54

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton announced Monday that the city closed on a key piece of real estate critical in advancing their Stellar centerpiece project — Fusion 54.

Designed to “fuse” together entities focused on growing Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, the Fusion 54 facility will create unmatched levels of collaboration and synergy through co-location of a number of stakeholder organizations. To date, those participating groups include: economic development, Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Crawfordsville Main Street, Montgomery County Leadership Academy, Montgomery County Visitors & Convention Bureau and Wabash College.

The property formerly known as the Elston building at 101 W. Main St. and is a four-story, 24,000 square foot building. Unique features will include 6,000 square feet of co-working space and most exciting is the partnership with Wabash College. They plan to occupy 6,000 square feet for their Center for Innovation, Business & Entrepreneurship, as well as a creative space for their Arts and Liberal Arts Plus Initiatives. Finally, PNC Bank will remain as a tenant on the first floor.

“Redefining our downtown with this anchor amenity is just part of the overall transformation we have undertaken to make our city more attractive to young professionals, families and businesses alike,” Barton said.

In addition to Fusion 54, other Stellar plans are making progress like the Downtown Trail, Pike Place and the former Ben Hur building adaptive reuse project.

Work is expected to begin on the Fusion 54 facility over the next couple of months and will be completed in early 2018.

Elmore facility to get face-lift

On Monday, Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton reported to the city’s Fiscal Affairs Committee of the Common Council that it is time to move some funds from an unused Civil Service fund to a new fund. 

The monies are to be used to pay for renovating the recently acquired Elmore Street facility. The building was purchased in 2016 and the mayor is ready to start work on it to make it usable.

Montgomery County Emergency Management will move into the building and vacate its present location in the basement of the City Building. The warehouse facility has not been updated for several years, Barton said, and EMA is ready to move as soon as possible.

The new facility will house the EMA offices and give them plenty of space to store equipment and other items.

Several entities are expected to use the facility. The city street department already is storing equipment there, as is the city police and fire departments.

Barton is talking with county officials about sharing  the large warehouse space. They are trying to determine the share of utility costs and other expenses.

Funds for the renovation will originate from the Civil Defense Fund which no longer accumulates new tax money. Approximately $200,000 has been in the fund for some time and the mayor believes the monies will be best used to renovate the Elmore Street building.

Barton’s request was passed onto the full council with a favorable decision.

The Fiscal Affairs committee approved a new fund for monies to be received for the recently acquired PNC Building which will become Fusion 54. Barton said the fund will provide a full disclosure account that will be used to deposit income for the building as well as expenses paid.

PNC Bank will be paying a lease payment to stay on the first floor of the building. Barton said the PNC payment will pay utilities and help with general maintenance expenses for the entire building.

Barton expects remaining tenants in the building will move out within the calendar year.

The Traffic, Parking and Safety Committee passed along to the Common Council a favorable recommendation for two yield signs. One sign will be placed at the intersection of  Copperfield Drive and Ashton Drive and one sign will be placed at the intersection of Shadow Wood Drive and Ashton Drive.

Antique Auto Club visits area

HILLSBORO — Parts of Fountain County were treated Monday to a glimpse from the past as the Snapper Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America toured the area.

Nearly 40 antique automobiles and more than 80 people from all across American are participating in the club’s Hub Tour.

Club members, pulling their antique autos in trailers, began arriving Friday in Lafayette. Beginning Sunday and continuing until Friday, club members will explore parts of West Central Indiana.

John Goss of Lafayette organized the daily tours. He has been working on details for several months and was glad to see a good turnout.

“We travel all over America and we tour areas for one week,” Goss said while standing among the automobiles parked at the McGrady Farms Barn south of Hillsboro. “We have members included in this tour from as far away as New Hampshire, New Jersey and Arizona. Two couples are from Indiana.”

The group also traveled to Hillsboro’s Myers Dinner Theatre for lunch and watched the production of All Shook Up.

Club member Joan McAnlis was impressed with the theatre and cast.

“I have a daughter who has participated in theatre for a long time,” she said. “The meal and production was outstanding. To find that type of talent out here is really something. It was great.”

Her husband, John, said since 1993 the club has taken more than 100 Hub Tours. He and Joan have only missed three. They drove a 1914 Orchard Touring Car. The couple was joined by two granddaughters and their son and daughter-in-law who also were driving an antique car.

“I guess you could say this club is a family affair for us,” John said. “Our kids and grandkids have grown up touring America.”

The club also will tour the Lafayette area, and after a stop in Frankfort, club members will be in Crawfordsville visiting museums and R32 Restorations for lunch.

Club members have already traveled to the Delphi area and plan to visit the Kokomo area before this Hub Tour concludes.

City stays busy mowing personal properties

Crawfordsville residents may want to keep their yards mowed and free of trash, otherwise they will be paying the city for street department employees to do the work.

Chapter 96 of the city code defines nusance properties. The code basically asks residents to keep yards mowed and not litter them with trash or household goods, such as mattresses and furniture. Unfortunately, problem properties land on the desk of Crawfordsville Code Enforcement Officer Barry Lewis.

When someone reports a problem, Lewis’ action plan is spelled out in the code. First, he must visit the property and see if it qualifies as a nuisance as defined by the code. If he believes it does, he will mail a letter notifying the owner that the property is not in compliance with city codes.

Property owners are given a letter via first class postage. The letter makes clear the violation and the penalty. Because of Indiana statute, the property owner has a deadline of 10 days from the date of the letter to correct the violation.

Lewis said letters usually are enough to encourage violators to clean up their properties.

“I would say 85 to 90 percent of the people receiving letters get their properties in shape,” Lewis said. “It is the others who can end up paying hefty bills.”

Lewis said the majority of property owners who do not respond to the initial letter live either in another county or state. Several of the properties that end up being mowed by city workers are mowed several times each summer.

Lewis said to have the city clean up a property is costly. The minimum charge payable to the city is $150 for each mowing. If debris or trash has to be removed, the city street department charges man-hour rates. If four city workers are cleaning up the property, the landowner will pay the hourly rate for all four workers.

Most violators will pay their bills willingly after their property is mowed. However, in some cases, the city attorney has to do the legal work which ends up adding to the outstanding amount listed on the property tax statements. When the landowner pays the property taxes, they will pay the additional city fees too.

Lewis reports he wrote 33 mowing citations in April and the city street employees ended up mowing five properties. In May, Lewis wrote 59 citations resulting in 15 properties having to me mowed.

In 2014, Lewis wrote 286 mowing citations and 330 in 2015.

“I don’t understand why some people just won’t go hire the neighbor kid to mow their yard for the summer,” Lewis said. “You could hire someone a lot cheaper than paying the city for the work and any legal fees.”

For Lewis, who enforces all city code violations and not just yard problems, he will keep writing the violations until residents decide to take care of what they own.