By Lasca Randels
This article has been updated to reflect a time change for the July 22 public hearing.
SILVER LAKE — Shannon McLeod, grant writer/administrator for Priority Project Resources, Inc., Greensburg, reviewed a revised schedule for the old school building removal project at the July 8 Silver Lake Town Council meeting.
The town will be applying for a grant that could be used toward the cost of demolition. The town is required to provide at least a 10 percent match.
McLeod told the town council that OCRA has suspended their blight clearance program for this year due to the pandemic and hopes the program will reopen early next year.
The town first needs to procure an environmental consulting firm to perform an environmental study on the property to look for contamination and things of that nature. Once the environmental study has been performed, the property will need to be inspected by a contractor to determine the cost to tear the building down.
After this information has been gathered, McLeod said, she will have to perform another environmental study which is directly tied to the utilization of federal funding and will deal with animal habitat and wetland impact.
In early 2021, a public hearing will be held. A proposal will be put together and submitted to OCRA, most likely in March.
Following a second public hearing, the full application can be submitted.
McLeod estimated a cost of $235,000 for demolition of the building and a project total of $250,000. At that rate, the town’s local fund match would be $38,750. The actual demolition of the building would most likely occur sometime between October 2021 and March 2022.
Once the building is down, McLeod said, the town could pay to have preliminary plans drawn up for a community center — and then apply later for another grant to help with the cost of building a community center.
Continuing the discussion of grants, a proposal was approved last month for a grant to improve streets and sidewalks. The proposal, presented by Mitch Hansel, of Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering, involves a Community Crossing matching grant program.
Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering will prepare an asset management plan, which involves reviewing every road in town and generating a cost estimate.
Hansel provided an update at Wednesday’s meeting. He told the council many of the town’s roads are in good shape, showing that the town has done an excellent job with crack sealing.
A couple of roads had “alligator cracking,” Hansel said, which is indicative of base failure.
For streets that are already in good condition, he recommended using Reclamite, which can be applied to the street to rejuvenate the flexibility of the street and reduce or prevent cracking. Once applied, the product would not need to be reapplied for another five years.
The grant program has been pushed back two months due to the pandemic, Hansel said.
“Worst case scenario, if it doesn’t happen in September, you can still apply in January and be ready for late spring or early summer paving,” Hansel said.
Hansel asked the council for direction as to which roads they would like to see upgraded and where they may want sidewalks added. Council will look into this further, and Hansel will return to the August meeting.
Clerk-Treasurer Tonya Conley brought up the issue of unpaid water and sewer bills and suggested amending the current resolution.
At this point, the outstanding balance for unpaid water/sewer bills is approximately $9,000.
“Per the governor’s order, we can’t shut their water off,” said Council President Chad Miner. “Ordinarily that would be the consequence for that — if you get too far behind, your water gets shut off, but we are not able to do that so as a result, we have these late water bills that are getting quite large.”
Conley said that town officials understand that some people may have had difficulty paying their bills in full during the past few months and said they had asked residents to at least make a partial payment. She said many have made no effort to pay anything at all. She pointed out that some individuals have taken “clear advantage” of the situation.
The governor has asked that town officials across the state work with residents in their communities on setting up utility payment plans.
“Our disconnect now says that if you sign a payment agreement, you stick to what you originally agreed to pay plus you pay whatever your current month’s bill is and if you don’t pay that, we can go in and shut you off without notification,” Conley said. “So I think that language needs to stay in the resolution, but I think we need to make it mandatory that they at least pay half of what they owe before they can sign an agreement.”
Council members agreed that if someone has extenuating circumstances, they can appeal this and see about making other arrangements.
“I don’t disagree that there are some that really could not pay,” Conley said.
The amended resolution will be put together and reviewed later this month.
Pastor Justin Harshman from Gospel Hill Pentecostal Church, located at 303 S. Jefferson St., attended the meeting to request permission for fireworks at a summer celebration event Saturday, July 11. The request was approved by council. The event is free and open to the public. More information can be found on the church’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/gospelhillpcg/
Summer Cleanup Days will take place from July 17-20. Due to COVID-19, they will not be going door to door. Trash dumpsters will be set up at the town hall.
In other news:
- The Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a tenderloin and french fry dinner at the new fire station from 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18. The event will have both drive-thru and sit down options.
- A public hearing regarding a USDA leaf vac grant will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, with a budget meeting immediately following.
- Conley asked that all residents take the 2020 census because gasoline tax revenue is based on population.
- Town Marshal Jason McGlennen said hands-free devices were purchased for squad cars due to the hands-free law that was implemented July 1.
- The council is looking at the end of August or the first part of September for the town garage sale.
- The next regular meeting will be 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the town hall.