Rockport Common Council – July 22, 2019

by Dean Bolin

Rockport Common Council met on Monday, July 22, to address some issues tabled at the earlier July 9 meeting. Unfortunately, resolution to many of the issues remained elusive.

The first issue regarded the gazebo originally designed to be in the now defunct art park, which may now be placed within Rockport City Park instead. Councilwomen Roxie Decker and Donna Lashley met with some photographers to consider locations for the gazebo. Based on that site visit, the spot chosen was further away from the Community Building than originally planned to accommodate pictures taken at the site. The placement puts the structure near two large trees described as being “quiet and serene” by Lashley.

Needs besides erecting the 24’ x 18’ structure (the city already has the materials for the building) would be $500-$600 in concrete work plus the costs associated with installing electricity to the site. They also discussed placing greenery around the gazebo. Flowers were not recommended because they may clash with flowers chosen for bridal parties and weddings.

Mayor Gay Ann Harney sought council’s approval to begin work on the gazebo but Councilman Yearby said he wanted to see a plan with detailed costs prior to giving approval. Later on in the meeting, Yearby directed councilwomen Decker and Hargis to study the Community Service building to improve “curbside appeal.” 

Re-opening bids to demolish the structure on 405 S 4th Street was next. The low bidder according to the mayor was for $9,000 from 24/7 Excavating. [Note: The mayor reported receiving a third bid mailed to her home the day after the bidding closed. The bid was rejected unopened due to not being responsive.] During the original bid opening, the low bid was $9,945. Yearby asked to table the bid as he did with the gazebo because he wanted to know the monetary needs (particularly the city’s Capital Funds) for these projects for the next 1 1/2 years. The council complied.

Regarding the AT&T cell tower at the park, a bid opening is scheduled for Thursday, August 15 at 2 p.m. Yearby said the county was putting a cell tower of their own (for Verizon) at the former dump site along Eureka Road. Mayor Harney said the city will object to that location, being so close to the Pioneer Village. Yearby used that rationale to object to where the AT&T cell tower is planned to go near the park’s entrance. The mayor said the city negotiated with AT&T for that location based on a circle of the property provided by the company as to where the tower needs to go. Yearby said he would vote for the cell tower, but he was unhappy with the location. As for the Verizon tower, the county entered into a lease agreement with that company on May 27 according to the Spencer County Auditor’s Office. Based on this, it is unclear where and to whom the city would make their objection known.

Next came the ongoing alternate vehicle ordinances the city has been considering. What was said at the July 9 meeting and what was actually passed by the common council appear to be two different things. This confusion was repeated to a certain extent on Monday afternoon’s meeting, including the notion that the council did not pass 2019-07 on golf carts. They did.

A correction must now be made to the July 9 article. In regards to citizen desires to drive on Lincoln Avenue with golf carts, this reporter wrote (only relevant part quoted) “The resulting ordinance which incorporated that desire…”, a description that has since been proven untrue. Going back to the previous time the issue was discussed (June 11) the council said at that time they had accepted the reasoning for Lincoln Avenue over the objections posited by Chief Jason Overfield. The council directed city attorneys to incorporate the change for the July meeting. When 2019-07 was presented July 9, it passed with little comment and the discussion moved to side by sides. Throughout all of these discussions, council members repeatedly said they were trying to make the side by side requirements match the golf carts.

On Monday, it became clear that this could not be done. There are different state rules for the two types of vehicles. One significant difference are the licensing requirements. The state licenses side by sides but do not license golf carts. The city has been charging a licensing fee for golf carts since 2012, when the original ordinance was drafted. The council said they do NOT plan to license or collect fees for side by sides because the state already does so. They plan, however, to initiate a decal program for both vehicles that will be run by the police department.  

The golf cart ordinance (2019-07) does the following: 1) Requires proof of liability insurance; 2) Requires a valid driver’s license to operate; 3) Requires the following equipment – headlamps, taillamps, rear stop lamps, exterior or interior rear view mirrors, brakes, turn signals and either a slow moving vehicle emblem or placard; 4) Requires inspection by police department; 5) Requires a permit and permit fee from the police department, cost is $20 and is to be renewed each year on December 31; 6) Requires a decal issued by the city noting a permit has been issued and 7) Requires decal to be placed on the left rear for the golf cart in a way that it is visible. It also carries the following penalties for violations: $25 for first offense, $50 for the second and $100 for the third and subsequent offenses. These fines and the license fee goes into the city’s General Fund.

The golf cart ordinance does NOT allow the vehicles to be on SR 66 (5th Street), Sycamore Street and Lincoln Avenue except to cross onto a local street. On 5th Street, carts WILL be allowed from the northern city limits to its intersection on Main Street.

It should also be pointed out that while the council did pass the ordinance, it has not be been enacted as of yet. Since money amounts are involved, it must be published as a legal prior to the law going into effect. The Leader received the legal notice for this ordinance on Friday, July 26.

The council also:

• Learned Mayor Harney will put out a request for bids for unspecified sewer work on Silverdale Road. No objection was made.

• Set a budget session for Monday, July 29 at 6 p.m.

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