Bethel requests funding for park projects

March 28th, 2010    Author: Brett A. Roller    Filed Under: News

The Bethel Village Council has requested funding for several projects in Burke Park and Frank Manning, with the Burke Trust Commission, updated council on the Trust’s investments.

Village liaison for the Burke Trust Janice Ireton brought the items before council and gave them an update on her newly formed relationship with the trust.

Ireton joined council in January.

"I'm very happy to work with the commission and try to mend fences that at some point in time were broken," Ireton said.

Ireton said funds from a 2005 Burke Trust donation to be used to purchase trees for Plane Street were still available and she has begun the process to have the trees installed.

The planners of the March 27 Easter egg hunt have asked the Burke Trust for a $500 donation. Ireton said the funds would be used toward the cost of a magician, egg prizes, costume rentals, a candy jar and jellybeans, and other miscellaneous items.

Ireton also presented a request from the Bethel Village Council for $1,500 to be used for printing and postage of a survey to be given to all residents and to the businesses on Plane Street.

The community planning survey will ask the participants' opinion about potential improvements to the Plane Street business district.

"If we don't start somewhere to find out what ideas the residents have, what ideas business owners have, what type of businesses their wanting to come into Bethel, tax bases, our planning commission won't be able to start healing some of the mistakes of the past," Ireton said.

Mayor James Dick said the survey was something the planning commission has been working on for some time and was originally designed to gauge public interest in creating a uniformed look for the Plane Street business district. He said the survey is a necessary step before making any changes to the zoning code or developing a master plan for the village.

"I think it would be a little bit unreasonable to have planning commission members...making those recommendations to council and council passing them without any public input," Dick said. "This was a way that the planning commission kind of took it upon themselves to put a survey together instead of hiring consultants for this."

Dick said the $1,500 will cover the cost of printing the survey and mailing it to the residents as well as returning the surveys in pre-paid stamped envelopes. The planning commission will then compile the data themselves.

Village Solicitor George Leicht recommended taking the opportunity to also review and revise the zoning ordinances for the entire village.

"I would like to see the possibility of making this the first step in an organized method of revisiting and possibly making changes to our zoning code," Leicht said.

The mayor, councilwoman Donna Gunn and Ireton agreed with Leicht's recommendation, however councilman Gary Hutchinson expressed his differing opinion.

"I think first of all the code, as far as I'm concerned on council, has been visited and amended and it's in a shape that we would like to work with," Hutchinson said. "We don't really have any need to change the zoning code unless somebody has a pretty good idea of something we have missed or need to change or something like that. This is the purpose I see in this, to get the first input from people of the village to see if they want to change the zoning code for any reason."

Council unanimously approved requesting funds from the Burke Trust to finance the mailings and held no further discussion on potential changes to the zoning code.

The mayor said that if the Burke Trust Commission approves funding he would like to see the questionnaire mailed out this spring before residents begin spending more time outside, which would give them the opportunity to forget to fill it out.

Ireton shared a letter with council from resident Judy Adams who asked that the asphalt lanes in the park be repaved.

"Priscilla (Johnson) and I drove around the park the other day and there are several places in the park that really could use some care," Ireton said. "She's asking that the park be repaved in time for (the Bethel Art and Music Fest in May)."

Ireton said Burke Trust Commission member Frank Manning asked that council approve the official request immediately in order to move forward as soon as he is able to get estimates together. Village Administrator Travis Dotson said the project could be completed alongside the planned repaving of the walk path.

Council approved the request of sufficient funds to complete the project. Hutchinson voted against the request.

Ireton said Manning is looking into replacing the chairs in the upstairs meeting room of the Grant Memorial Building. He is getting estimates and will ask for council approval of a request at a later date.

Ireton said she is also preparing a formal request for cement benches or tables for the park. She said they will need a concrete pad to sit on. Gunn said the park is too wet to pour concrete right now and Dotson suggested waiting until the village has enough projects needing concrete so that the village can order an entire truck load and save money.

"Tonight I'm not ready to place a formal request, I need to write one up," Ireton said.

Manning presented a finance report for the Burke Trust. He said in 2008 the trust's investments lost almost $307,000 in 2008. In 2009 the Trust gained about $146,000.

"We stayed with conservative investments, but when the market falls we lose some," Manning said.

In other business:

• Mayor Dick presented a proclamation to Coach Mike Arlinghaus and members of his Bethel-Tate boys basketball team for their "unselfish play...courage, determination, and success." The team finished the season with a record of 21-1.

• Council member Tim Cherry said the public works committee has begun soliciting bids from Duke Energy and American Electric Power for a new electricity supply contract. The current contract expires at the end of this year. Cherry said the rates are trending down.

• Cherry said the village will focus on repairing the sub grade on roads in the village with deep depressions on the sides as part of their annual resurfacing projects.

• Mayor Dick said he will prepare a list of positions village residents can volunteer for in response to an interested resident.

• Kari Brooks thanked the village for awarding her the Burke Trust Scholarship last year. She said the scholarship has been very helpful as she tries to work while going to school to become an RN.

• Leicht and Gunn both reminded everyone to make sure they fill out their 2010 census forms. Gunn said the census is important in helping to secure federal funding for local projects.
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