May 3rd Richland Center City Council Meeting

The Richland Center City Council met Tuesday evening, May 3rd.

At the meeting the council approved an amended agreement with the contractor that is working on the Sheldon Street reconstruction project. The new contract will allow for the installation of curb and gutter along the project. It was also stated that when workers removed the existing pavement there was no gravel base under the roadway. The amended contract allows for excavation of the dirt and placement of an appropriate gravel base under the pavement. The total amendments will cost just over $10,000 – which will come from general obligation borrowed funds for street projects.

The Richland Center City Council engaged in a pair of discussions that centered around the administration and enforcement of a pair of city ordinances. The first dealt with a sidewalk in disrepair along the south side of the current East Union Street reconstruction project. The Public Works Department requested that the sidewalk be replaced at the same time the roadwork and other curb & gutter were being replaced. The question arose regarding who should be responsible to pay for the sidewalk’s replacement. Per city ordinance, sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner. If the city deems the walkway unfit, it can notify the landowner to replace it, or the city can have it replaced and assess the costs to the property tax bill. In the case of the East Union Street sidewalk, it had clearly been marked for replacement, however it was unclear if the landowner had been mailed a formal notification. In the end the council voted 7-to-1 to have the portion of sidewalk in disrepair replaced and billed to the landowner.

The other discussion dealt with the new “tagging” procedure for garbage left curbside that isn’t taken during the weekly collection. Under the 2-year old ordinance, large items or appliances left outside during times other than the free large item garbage pick-up are subject to be identified by the city and “tagged”. That tagging alerts Town & Country Sanitation to dispose of the item, and a collection and administrative fee of $250 is assessed to the property owner. The question was posed about the notification to property owners – and in particular absentee landlords who have tenants who violate the ordinance and are not directly assessed the penalty. The City Council took no action on the matter, however an appeals process for the landlords will be developed and presented at a future council meeting.

Lon Arbegust of the AD German Warehouse Conservancy provided an update on the building’s renovation. He said that the feasibility study is complete and they are currently undergoing a physical assessment of the building prior to any work being done. Arbegust said that they are pursuing a $500,000 grant from the Getty Foundation. That grant, along with up to $500,000 in Historic Preservation tax credits, will springboard the organization into a full capital fundraising campaign. Lon stated that the goal is to restore the building to its original design by Frank Lloyd Wright. The basement and 1st floor of the building will be retained by the Conservancy, with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor made available for tenants. He added that now is an ideal time for the city to harness the interest in historic tourism – and in particular with the new Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Trail.

In final news notes from the Richland Center City Council meeting Tuesday night, former Alderperson Jay Buchanan Mueller addressed the council. He thanked the council and mayor for the proclamation honoring him at the last meeting, and thanked the previous city leaders he had the chance to serve with during his 12 years on the council. Mueller will continue to be involved with the city. He was appointed Tuesday night to a 5-year term to the City Park Board.