By David Hazledine
MILFORD – During a monthly public meeting held Monday evening July 12, Milford Town Council discussed two matching grants it is seeking to assist with roughly $900,000 in water and wastewater planning and infrastructure improvements.
Officials have their eyes on a $90,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and a state water Infrastructure grant for a project estimated at $825,800.
The meeting opened with the hearing for a proposed OCRA planning grant that would be used to recommend changes to utility service and create a master utility plan. The hearing was led by Brett Roberts of Michiana Area Council of Governments.
According to Roberts, at least 51% of the population receiving the grant must have “low to moderate income.” Within Milford town limits, the number is 54%; however, surveying is not yet completed outside town limits.
Roberts went on to explain Milford must provide 10% of the $90,000 grant. The application deadline is Oct. 15. Anyone with questions may contact Milford Clerk/Treasurer Tricia Gall at Town Hall.
Steven Marquart and Gall have also been working with Commonwealth Consulting to determine which projects should be presented for a SWIF grant. According to Gall, Marquart prioritized the most critical water issues, and the pair chose to focus on compliance issues related to new lead and copper rules as well as replacing water meters.
The state is calling for municipalities to meet lead and copper mandates; however, the town hopes to take care of it all in hopes of eliminating compliance issues. Gall added compliance issues are looked on favorably when applying for grants.
The total project cost, including planning and other non-construction costs, is estimated at $825,800. Of that, the town would pay for $276,000. American Rescue Plan Act funds would cover $176,000, said Gall, with local funds covering the remaining $100,000. SWIF funds would cover $549,800.
In response to a query from Bob Cockburn, Gall said all necessary meters would be covered by the project. “We asked for the top-of-the-line system,” she said. Marquart added the meters would have the most powerful radio signal available.
During police reports, Chief Derek Kreider requested the council consider hiring Bryan Bradley as a full time deputy along with Cody Mangan and Donald McCune as part-time officers.
All three are experienced officers, said Kreider, with Bradley having served as a medic and Kosciusko County sheriff’s deputy before joining Milford’s department as a reserve officer. Mangan’s 10 years of law enforcement in Silver Lake includes crisis intervention training. McCune is a 1994 academy graduate who has served with the Elkhart County Sheriff and Parkview Police Departments.
Kreider also reported his officers have made six arrests at Waubee Lake Park in recent weeks. “We try to make as many passes as we can,” he said of the park. The council agreed it also needed to consider placing a deposit on use of the park’s pavilion, as well as posting a reserve officer there during holidays and weekends.
Council President Doug Ruch requested an executive session to discuss the hirings along with the need for a student resource officer.
Milford Attorney Jay Rigdon gave an update on Ron Davidhizar’s attempts to block condemnation of houses in Milford. Transcripts of a fall 2020 meeting have been delivered to the judge, who will then decide if the information is sufficient or if a hearing will be necessary, said Rigdon. He added Gall is planning a meeting with Building Inspector Tom Bulger to discuss other properties as well.
In the matter of the 410 W. Catherine St. home burned in a fire, the council voted to choose a more direct route toward cleaning up the property. On July 25, the 60 days given to the owner to demolish the structure will have passed. At that time, the property will go into receivership, and the town will likely take ownership, allowing it to enforce the building commissioner’s demolition order, though at its own expense. Gall said attempts to communicate with the owner have been ignored.
Residents of neighboring 409 W. Catherine St. attending the meeting reported seeing children playing in the house and retrieving debris from the property. “I do not want to see a kid get hurt,” one said.
During public input, the council voted to provide the family of Rodney Bray with a signed letter of no objection to a planned dog grooming business his daughter hopes to operate in the family home at 308 S. Main St. The letter will be presented to the Area Planning Commission at a July 21 meeting. Bray explained the business expects to serve roughly five customers per day, five days per week, and parking should not be a problem.
The council also voted to renew its insurance policy on town buildings with WR Hall Insurance after hearing from Eric Merley, who explained there would be a five percent increase, reflecting industry-wide increases.
During wastewater reports, the council authorized payment of $1,350 to Shankster Bros. for camera work along West Street June 28-29. Mark Brubaker said the work discovered debris in a spot near Syracuse St. which “needs to be addressed.” He added quotes for the work were forthcoming.
Brubaker also reported a downed main lift pump he believed resulted from a lightning strike which then blew a fuse. Ruch said when the repair cost is determined a decision will also be made whether or not to submit it to insurance.
During street, water and park reports, Superintendent Steven Marquart said he was working on what streets to pave for the 2022 Community Crossing grant. As for 2021, he said, work has been slow getting started due to rain; however, during the next three weeks Pulver Paving will work on Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades to sidewalks.