By Lauren Zeugner
Syracuse — Several residents of the Kern’s Crossing neighborhood attended the Syracuse Town Council meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 17, with lots of questions regarding the council’s desire to annex the neighborhood into the town limits. All were not happy about the situation.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Brent Boyer, who lives on Kern Road but not in the Kern’s Crossing subdivision, asked why there are a few properties that aren’t part of the annexation plan even though his is included. After Council President Larry Siegel explained this was a time for people to comment on agenda items and not ask questions of the council, another resident spoke up and said, “You just want more money, that’s why you want to incorporate us.”
Boyer tried again asking why Kern Road properties were being lumped into the annexation with the Kern’s Crossing subdivision. Attorney Steve Unger, from Bose, McKinney and Evans, stepped in and explained the process, that a public hearing will be held and questions can be asked then.
Another Kern Road property owner asked why they didn’t receive any notice regarding the town’s desire to annex their property. Unger explained the council was being asked to approve an ordinance that would introduce the annexation and look at a financial plan for the proposed annexation area. Property owners will receive another notice prior to the October 19 town council meeting. The entire annexation process isn’t expected to be completed before March 2022.
In addition to the ordinance is a resolution the council was also asked to consider which would keep the process on track. After the public hearing the town has 30-60 days to adopt the annexation. Unger recommended the council hold a special meeting between its November and December meetings. After the annexation’s adoption those against it will have 90 days to remonstrate.
The council approved both the ordinance and resolution.
The council approved and amendment to the traffic code regarding one way streets. This was at the request of Police Chief Jim Layne regarding the one way street that runs from Brooklyn to Main Street in front of the old Syracuse Elementary School.
David Wilkinson, the town’s new town manager, gave his first department report. He told the council it’s been a whirlwind first couple of weeks meeting department heads and employees. He’s also done some budget review with Virginia Cazier, clerk-treasurer. Mark Aurich, public works superintendent started last week.
Wilkinson also attended the Kern’s Crossing public information meetings last week as well as met with Jeremy Hardy of Commonwealth, the town’s engineering firm.
One area Wilkinson felt needed to be addressed was code enforcement which he described as being “allowed to slack off.” He would like to see code enforcement be more of a standard practice.
He’s also sent out a survey of the town employees to see what they consider to be the pros and cons of their jobs.
Wilkinson noted the town will be receiving America Rescue Plan money and he would like to have a conversation about how those funds should be spent. Council members stated they would like to have a special meeting regarding those funds.
Layne reported two new squad cars are still being outfitted. The Schrocks have purchased two permanent solar powered speed signs which will be installed on NorthShore Drive.
Chad Jonsson, park superintendent, reported work has started on the new ball park. Park personnel are finishing up a variety of projects and a public meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 20 to discuss the findings from a grant given to the park board from the St. Joseph River Basin regarding trees. The meeting will discuss the health of the town’s trees as well as planting areas and other matters regarding trees.
Aurich reported his first seven days have been a whirlwind. He told the council he’s very impressed with what he found in the public works department. “Someone has done a good job retaining staff,” he said. He noted long-time employees have also done an excellent job bringing newer employees up to speed.
He presented a request from Hardy regarding applying for the State Water Infrastructure Grant. The funds could be used for a water line loop in the area around Oakwood Park. Hardy requested the town fund $8,100 for survey work needed for the application. The council approved the request.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott responded to comments regarding the outdoor warning siren that went off Thursday afternoon, Aug. 12. He noted it was not just for tornados but any severe weather. The sirens were sounded when winds reached 80 miles per hour.
The Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce put up a give and take box by Station I where individuals can put in or take non-perishable food items.
Cazier noted the town is set to receive $650,676.45, half this year and half next year. She wanted to know where the funds should be put. Council members said they wanted to meet to discuss the issue at a later date.
In discussion from the floor Matt Goodnight asked about meeting minutes from 2021 meetings. He said he couldn’t find them on the town web site. He also recommended the town record the town council meetings and post them on the town’s Youtube page.
The council appointed Corey Mast to the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals.
Hoover demanded that a stop light be installed at the new Syracuse Elementary before a child is hit by a car either going or leaving school. Layne said he would look into it.