By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — The Warsaw Board of Public Works & Safety meeting held Thursday, July 2, was led by Board Member George Clemens due to Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer’s absence.
Thallemer, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, participated in the meeting remotely. Thallemer has been working from home since June 24.
Clemens asked that everyone keep Thallemer and his family in their thoughts and prayers.
Warsaw Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer submitted a proposal, a memorandum of understanding and a certificate of insurance from Wright Tree Service.
Plummer explained that he was contacted by Don Watson, a local representative from Wright Tree Service, about holding training in local parks.
During this training, Watson, a certified arborist, would identify problem trees and remove those trees at no cost to the parks department or the city.
Watson will also train parks department employees at no cost.
“This collaboration not only allows us to identify problem trees and potential risks, dead limb removal, and training to our employees but also will save a substantial amount of dollars that otherwise would have to come out of the park budget to perform this work,” Plummer said.
Watson told board members that this collaboration would allow his company to have a steady location in a great logistics centerpiece in Indiana for operations.
“We’ll have additional trainers coming in with much more experience and credentialing than myself,” Watson said. “Probably considered top 20 arborists in the world will be coming to provide training as well so hopefully it’s just viewed as a really good opportunity to develop skill sets and education of arboriculture for all parties involved.”
“It sounds like a real win-win,” Clemens commented.
The tentative date for the first training session is July 8, to be held at Lucerne Park in Warsaw.
The board approved the agreement between the parks department and Wright Tree Service.
Plummer also requested approval for additional work to be performed by Design Collaborative in the amount of $35,700.
The schematic re-design work comes after city officials decided not to relocate the parks department offices to Center Lake Pavilion.
The decision is part of a multi-faceted facelift the parks department is delving into.
The pavilion will be remodeled. The longtime parks office at Center Lake has been vacated to make room for part of the Buffalo Street renovations and staff is currently working out of the Pete Thorn Center near Lucerne Park.
Officials now plan to incorporate the park offices inside the proposed parks maintenance garage on the corner of Indiana and Fort Wayne Streets.
“We can save a substantial amount of money between the two projects by having the offices with the maintenance facility,” Plummer said.
The board approved the re-design work.
Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen brought up the subject of wastewater late fees.
A decision was made at the June 5 meeting to continue waiving wastewater late fees up until the August billing.
Since that time, Governor Eric Holcomb updated an executive order, extending shutoffs and filing of liens until Aug. 14. Christiansen asked if the board would like to extend waiving late fees through that date as well.
Thallemer said he supported extending the suspension of wastewater late fees to help take pressure off those who are experiencing difficulty at this time.
Board members reviewed options for extending the waiving of late fees with City Attorney Scott Reust.
“It does say in the executive order that those using utilities can work with the utility to make a six-month payment plan,” Board Member Jeff Grose pointed out. “I just hope that we will stay true to that as we work through the rest of this year and into next year. People are in trouble now. They may be in trouble, you know, next February, March as they’re trying to pay everything back.”
Grose said the Board of Works has always tried to consider the community residents when making decisions and he urged the board to stay true to that “during these unique and difficult times.”
Christiansen said payment plans can be arranged upon request.
A decision was made to eliminate late fees for the next three months. In addition, no liens will be put on properties during that time.
The subject will be readdressed at a meeting in September.
In other news:
- A road closure request by Patrick Loebs was approved. The north half of Maple Avenue, between East Main Street and East Fort Wayne Street will be closed from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.
- Board members approved an outdoor seating request by 110 Craft Meatery, located at 110 N. Buffalo St. in Warsaw. Board members agreed that outdoor seating has become increasingly important in the effort to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The next regular meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 17.