Water shutoffs, road repairs and skateboard shenanigans
Highlights from the Aug. 12 Garrettsville Village Council meeting
Garrettsville Village Council discussed Covid-19 funds for schools, progress on street maintenance, water shutoffs, skateboarding and trees during their meeting Wednesday. Here’s a roundup of what they talked about.
Public utilities and public shutoffs
Council member Larry Beatty questioned the morality of shutting off people’s water in light of continually high unemployment numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and all the major companies have forgone shutting off utilities. I understand as a municipality we don’t have to go by those rules,” Beatty said, referring to the fact that the village can legally enforce water shutoffs if residents fall behind on their bills.
But he said they should avoid this to ensure residents have access to water. “It’s possible we could put our own village in dire straits with no water.”
Enforcement of water shutoffs is optional, according to the council. Some local organizations, including United Way, are working to help residents make utility payments. According to the council, there were 10 people on a “shutoff list” last Friday, and as of Wednesday all of them have either paid or arranged to make payments.
The council says of the 10 people on the list there were no water shutoffs, and the number of people who have not paid their water bills is comparable to before the pandemic started. However, with Covid-19 cases rising and stricter measures going in place to limit the virus’s spread, fears of economic hardship for residents remains on the forefront.
Back to school
Within the last month, Garrettsville received $63,000 from the state of Ohio to combat the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday night, Beatty proposed using some of those funds to support the school district.
However, it’s unclear whether the village can use the money for this. It’s a complicated process that would require the village to keep tabs on the district to ensure they comply with a checklist of safety standards and precautions from the state in order to receive the state funding. The plausibility of the funding transfer is still under debate, and there has been no definitive answer on whether the village can provide the money.
The school district has held off announcing if they will hold classes in person or online. They say they will announce a plan later this month.
On the roads again
The Village’s street fund, which is paid for with income tax revenue, has not been as affected by the recession as the village feared. In earlier meetings the council worried there would be little money available, causing delays in necessary road pavements and maintenance.
However, with just over $200,000 in the fund, plans are moving forward for the repaving of Clover Lane and Maple Avenue.
The village will be tearing up the over 20-year-old curbside sections of Maple Avenue near Park Avenue and North Street, as well as sections of Clover Lane. Once those sections are removed and repaved, the rest of the sections of road will be resealed in order to match the freshly paved portions.
The council reviewed five bids for the project, voting to approve the lowest bidder, N.E.S Corp. N.E.S is a Cleveland-based contractor that submitted a bid of $136,440.
In more concrete road developments, the council expects to finish pouring the concrete sidewalks along Liberty Street by Sept. 1.
Under normal circumstances the process of receiving bids, approving bids and awarding a contract would take three months. But the council voted to expedite the process because it had already been delayed.
“This could have easily been a three-month process,” Council President Tom Hardesty said. “We’ve cut it down to a month to still get work done during good weather.”
Council vs. skateboard kids
Council member John Chambers brought up the alleged issue of Garrettsville residents, including children, skateboarding on sidewalks in the village. Chambers says skateboarders grinding on concrete benches has led to the benches becoming scuffed and chipped.
While skateboards are used for tricks, they are also a common form of transportation, especially for younger residents. Despite this, Chambers says he approached the Garrettsville Police Department about the issue, requesting the department stop skateboarders riding on the sidewalk and direct them to the village’s skate park.
“We were looking the other way, but now they’ve caused problems,” Chambers said. “The skateboarders aren’t supposed to be riding around town. That’s why we put the skate park in.”
Toward the end of the meeting, the council discussed the issue of what trees should line the village’s boardwalk and main street.
The discussion was prompted by issues with one tree on Main Street dying and the community’s response, mostly in the form of suggested replacements from gardeners and arborists. People have suggested a mix of Eastern Redbud and Allegheny Serviceberry trees, which both bloom in early spring with vibrant pink and white flowers respectively.