Friends: Growth of Rally needs attention

Published 1:00 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

Ironton’s Rally on the River motorcycle event has continued to blossom since its inception.

Friends of Ironton President Rick Jansen talked about that growth at the Ironton City Council meeting on Thursday … and everything that comes with it.

“The Rally blew up on us. We’re having some good growing pains,” Jansen told council. “It’s going to grow and grow fast.”

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Jansen said the event’s growth will require more of a police presence and a more structured approach to how vendors are allowed to operate.

Jansen had concern that some vendors were paying a small fee for a food permit from the city health department and the Friends had no control on where they set up. Jansen said that is unfair to other vendors who paid a higher fee to the Friends. He said it also undermines existing businesses.

“We want to close that loophole,” Jansen said.

Jansen recommended a committee to examine that issue and other aspects of the event’s growth, to which council members were receptive.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the event means a lot of money for the city.

“We had some complaints about too many motorcycles and too many people,” he said. “But it’s important for our citizens to know it brings money into our city and businesses, and we should be appreciative of that.”

In other business, council gave first reading to an ordinance to agree to a consent decree with the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA regarding an agreement on the combined sewer overflow.

At current costs, the project, which will separate sanitary and storm sewers, is estimated at $12 million over 17 years. The issue has long been a problem for the city, which was fined nearly $100,000 earlier this year.

Doug Cade, an engineer with E.L. Robinson Engineering, said the consent decree gives the city a clear path to a resolution.

“It allows us to come to a solution of the problem of the combined sewer overflow,” Cade said. “No. 1, by entering the consent decree, it will save the city nearly $450,000 in study costs. No. 2, it allows us to build it as quickly as we can because it’s only going to get more costly the longer it gets drawn out.”

In other news:

4After a third reading, council unanimously passed an ordinance to enter into an agreement with E.L. Robinson Engineering to replace outdated water meters.

4Blankenship said the move will eliminate “slow” meters that do not properly gauge water usage and will reduce the manpower necessary for readings. He said there will not be an elimination of jobs, but those employees will instead be redirected to projects that would otherwise go undone.

4Council suspended the rules and unanimously repealed an ordinance that sent 3 percent of garbage fees to the Garbage Equipment Reserve Fund. The fund has more than $160,000 and no monies will be sent to that fund for two years. The move will not affect citizens’ garbage bills.

4Council suspended the rules and unanimously adopted an ordinance for Blankenship to enter into an agreement with Blacktop Industries and Equipment Company for the South Fourth Street Improvement Project. The cost is $23,750.

4Council unanimously passed a resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant from the state for the Liebert expansion. The expansion is expected to create 50 new jobs within two years of its completion.

4Council suspended the rules and unanimously adopted the 2008 edition of the national electric code of the National Fire Protection Association. The code outlines the parameters for “design, alteration, modification, construction, maintenance, and testing of electrical systems and equipment in the city of Ironton.”

4Blankenship announced the city received an award from the Ironton Garden Club for the city’s beautification efforts.