Ken Jones, president of Jones Petrie Rafinski, the town’s engineering firm, gave a monthly report on the SR 13/U.S. 6 Industrial and Technology Park to the Syracuse Town Council during its regular meeting Tuesday night.
Jones reported Cripe Excavating started to do the passing blisters to the park entrances and found unsuitable backfill under the pavement.
Cripe Excavating is claiming this is an unforeseen condition. However, Jones reviewed the contract the town has with Cripe, which states the contractor take note of the conditions of the site and agrees to a stipulated price the contractor set. Jones told the council Jones Petrie Rafinski provided limited soil borings and those findings were provided in the bid specifications. None of the soil borings were taken in the area of the passing blisters.
In making his argument, Jones said Cripe Excavating has done a quality job and has been on time, but that does not justify the request Cripe was making, which was to be paid for new material to be trucked in. Jones said he was surprised to find bad dirt under a state highway infrastructure.
“I can’t say enough good things about the contractor. He’s been diligent and making sure things are done right,” Jones said.
Councilman Larry Siegel suggested splitting the cost between Cripe and the town, noting it was taxpayers who would foot the bill “If we’re willing to pay half, he should pay half. That’s generous of us,” he said. The council approved making an offer to pay for materials only, noting they would have to be trucked in anyway, not to exceed $10 a ton.
H+G Underground Utility is wrapping up its work on the site. It also had a change order for the cost of repairs made to a water main north of the water tower. There was a reduction in the cost of the work of $9,400 for gate valves that weren’t needed and an increase of $15,514 for the repairs.
Property owners along the route are encouraged to water the area, which as been reseeded. Jones noted, “We’re heading into the dry time of the year.”
Town manager Henry DeJulia told the council road names are needed for the industrial park. After some research and discussion, only Technology Way will work as one of the road names. The other suggestions are too close to similarly named streets which could cause problems for 911.
Jones would like road names approved and platted before he appears before the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission on June 15.
The council approved CF-1 Tax Abatement Forms, which are an annual review of businesses who have sought tax abatement. The review looks to see if the business is bringing in the number of jobs it said it would. Patrick Industries was found in compliance. It had a goal of 240 employees when it sought tax abatement. It now has 212.
Precision Automotive had a goal of hiring 12 employees. The report stated it had hired 10. However, Allen Tehan, owner, reported he had hired two more since the report was submitted and interviewing three more. A business incubator has started in the large building he built for a GM project that was rescinded.
Siegel asked for some information about a business incubator. Tehan explained an incubator tries to find funding for new entrepreneurial projects. The one in his building is a hydraulic hybrid system. After preliminary research, a manufacturer will be found. Precision Automotive had its abatement approved.
The council also approved establishing a no parking area on Benton Street between Lake and Front streets. This came as a request of a homeowner. The council also approved dropping the speed limit around the Harold Schrock Athletic Complex down to 20 miles per hour from 30 miles per hour. Crosswalks will also be added at the request of the Syracuse Police Department.
In department reports, DeJulia requested a contract be approved with NIPSCO for the water booster station. It will not cost the town anything as long as the town meets the minimum annual usage. Council approved the contract. DeJulia reported the town is still working on having a shovel ready designation for the industrial park, and working on plans for the Harkless Bridge. The town is also looking at costs regarding streets in Oakwood Park and putting in some curbs.
Police Chief Tony Ciriello, reported a lot of cases are in the works. The Memorial Day parade will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday. SR 13 will remain open until just before the parade steps off and remain closed until the police can get everyone cleared out after the parade.
The department is also getting calls about long grass. It did an inspection Friday and found over 30 homes with grass that was too long. By Monday that number had dropped to 18, so letters were sent to those 18 homeowners. If they do not comply, the street department will be contracted to mow the yard.
Council president Bill Musser asked about school resource officers. Ciriello explained the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department provides a school resource officer to Wawasee High School. It is an issue the department needs to look at. Ciriello feels there should be an officer who is a resource officer full-time, bouncing between the high school, middle school and elementary school.
Park superintendent Chad Jonsson reported lifeguards will be on duty this Saturday and will work weekends until school lets out for summer vacation. The Farmers and Artisan Market is underway. About 300 visitors came to the market last Saturday. The cruise in and car show over the weekend were also held.
Julie Kline, clerk-treasurer, reported department heads are starting to work on preliminary budgets for 2014 and asked if the council had any input. There was none.
In public comments, Sharon Fowler asked about the number of drug arrests. Ciriello said drug investigations are not a matter of public record until arrests are made as a matter of officer safety. Fowler also asked why the town did not charge fees for permits issued by the building inspector. Kline noted fees are charged by the county. Musser suggested it was something to look at.
For a more in-depth accounting of the Syracuse Town Council, see today’s issue of The Mail-Journal.