South Bend City Council passes Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan
By KAYLA CAMENZIND
During the public hearing, Citizen Thomas Jaicoma expressed his desire to have Maple Street added to the improvement plan. “The street is in disrepair from the lack of a sidewalk,” Jaicoma explained. He told the council that although he installed a six foot wide sidewalk on his street, a three foot strip where the old sidewalk once reached is still gravel.
“We revisit this every year and do a new six year street plan and we will take this under consideration,” Mayor Struck informed Jaicoma.
The council then moved to pass the plan, which will focus on six streets in South Bend. Kendrick Street, First Street, Madison Street, and Jefferson Street will be reconstructed and widened with sidewalks added on one side and storm drainage. Adams Street will have road construction and HMA overlay. Jackson Street will also have road construction with widening, an added sidewalk on one side and storm drainage. The streets will be improved in that order, with one street worked on each year starting in 2015 until 2020.
“I think the TIB grants are great and they do a lot for where most of the traffic is,” Council Member Pat Nieve said during council comments.
“We wouldn’t be able to do any streets if it wasn’t for TIB. There’s no money in the city to re-do a street, we just don’t have it,” Mayor Struck added.
“The criteria is very strict and so that’s why most of the streets that people are asking about are not allowed,” City Supervisor Little explained.
Next on the agenda were proposed rental fees for Cheney Park. The parks man “puts in approximately two hours preparation time, cleaning and what have you the bathrooms and that building down there at Cheney Park to prepare for special events,” Mayor Struck explained. Another two hours is spent cleaning up after the event, as well.
“What we have suggested in this plan is a $50 charge with $25 being returned if it’s left in good condition. So it would cost $25 to reserve that building and use it for your event and then $25 as a deposit. Most places do charge a fee for that,” Mayor Struck explained. The council passed the fee plan with unanimous approval.
During the items from the public, Jaicoma protested the department heads service contract. He explained his frustration with the fact that all department heads get the same base pay.
Jaicoma also brought up the issue of posted signs at the boat launch on the outside of South Bend that state a fee must be paid. “That is very misleading to the public, because that area is not a fee area. That is an area that is supposed to be for outdoor recreation without a fee for the public,” Jaicoma said.
“We have been in contact with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. He was just in my office two days ago. We are totally in compliance with everything; we are absolutely fine with Fish and Wildlife,” Mayor Struck countered.
As a department head report, Police Chief Eastham issued a warning to the public about car prowlers. “We’d like to remind the public to lock their doors. Car prowlers are usually thieves of convenience, if they have to break a window, they usually don’t. . . They usually open a door and steal whatever’s loose,” Eastham said. He explained that out of the 12 car prowls this year all of them occurred when the car was unlocked and two of them happened in broad daylight.
Chief Eastham also said that it doesn’t look like the department will receive the grant for the patrol car this year, although nothing has been decided for sure.
The new drug dog which is currently in training was introduced to the council. He is scheduled to finish training at the end of July or early August. “Like most young children he has his ups and downs, but he’s progressing quite well,” Chief Eastham said.
City Supervisor Little explained that the project on Cedar Street has hit a few bumps. “The valves that they thought were there weren’t there and some other valves that we didn’t know about appeared.” Last week the crew mapped out all the valves, “so from now on we’re going to be able to go to those valves, each one of those valves, and isolate parts of the city. So now we do know where they’re at,” Little said. A new water line is going to be installed at the end of next week.
The next South Bend City Council meeting will be Wednesday, May 28 at 5:30.