Council hears storm drain repairs ordinance

Published 9:52 am Friday, April 29, 2011

Two special meetings called for weekend

The Ironton City Council will be working this weekend.

The council has scheduled special meetings for 10 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday mornings for the purpose of considering an ordinance to authorize the repair of a storm drain that collapsed at Eighth and Ashtabula streets.

The storm sewer collapsed about two weeks ago. Mayor Rich Blankenship received an estimate of $125,000 for the repair.

Email newsletter signup

An ordinance to contract with Southern Ohio Trenching was on the agenda for the regular meeting Thursday evening. However, with only four of seven members present, the council could not suspend the regular meeting rules and vote on the ordinance as an emergency measure.

Regular rules require the council to hear three readings of the ordinance during three separate meetings before voting on it. To pass the ordinance on the first or second readings, six members of council have to vote for it.

The ordinance would also declare the situation an emergency. A two-thirds vote is required to pass the emergency declaration. Without an emergency declaration, the mayor would be required to take bids for the work, a process that could take up to eight weeks, he said.

“We don’t have eight weeks,” Blankenship told council. “I’ll be honest with you, it’s very frustrating for me to be standing here having an emergency and I can’t get council members to attend meetings.”

Council members Bob Cleary, Beth Rist and Frank Murphy were absent. Murphy attended a funeral Thursday, Blankenship said.

“I don’t know what else to do I can’t make them come to the council meetings or finance meetings,” Blankenship said. “But it should be heard by the citizens who’s not showing up and if their house gets flooded, call them because I’m doing everything I possibly can to get this done.”

Blankenship has said that without the fix, the problem has the potential of causing flooding in the south end of town. As it is, there are two exposed holes in the pipe that city workers constantly monitor, he said. The contractor has ordered the materials and is ready to start work, Blankenship said.

The mayor brought the situation to the council’s attention at a meeting two weeks ago, when he declared it an emergency.

Blankenship said he took it to council because it fell on a week when there was a council meeting and he could get it on the agenda.

If six council members attend Saturday’s meeting and agree on the ordinance, it can pass on the second reading and the council will not need to meet Sunday.

Blankenship said after the meeting that he has a legal opinion from the city attorneys that says the mayor can proceed with repairs without council approval in an emergency situation.

“Either way we’re going to do it,” Blankenship said. “How can you dispute that this is an emergency?”

Also at the meeting, the council heard from residents Phyllis and Bill Spanner and Jerry Watson of Ora Richey Road. The Spanners’ son-in-law, Mike Rist, also spoke to council about the road’s condition.

A hillside along the road is slipping onto the road. Part of the problem is that water is running from the hillside. Another problem, the residents say, is that a house has been built on the hillside, causing the land to become unstable.

The residents asked council for helping fixing the problem.

The situation was the topic of discussion at a public utilities committee meeting last week. At a previous council meeting the mayor had said the city would put a catch basin in to divert the water to a creek. At the committee meeting though, members discussed the possibility that diverting the water into the creek may violate Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, since it’s not known what is in the water.

The city clears off the road when needed.

“We had an engineer two years ago give us an estimate of what could be done,” Council Chairman Kevin Waldo said. “That answer is beyond our financial capabilities.”

Resident Jerry Watson responded by asking what the city planned to do.

“The city is going to try to maintain an open thoroughfare by remedying the runoff,” Waldo said. “It’s our obligation to maintain that road as best (we can).”

In other business, the council also:

• Heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to convey a piece of property to the state of Ohio. The property is around a bridge on Lawrence Street. Construction is planned for next year to elevate the bridge.

• Heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter an agreement between the city and the International Association of Firefighters

• Heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with Red Oak Consulting for a financial feasibility study. The ordinance, as well as an ordinance to amend the annual operating budget for the fiscal year, will be on the agenda for the special meetings called for this weekend. The budget amendment ordinance was also given first reading.

• Heard the second reading of an ordinance establishing rules and regulations regarding the disposal of material at the city garage and landfill

• Passed a resolution approving the re-appointment of Patti Rice and Dr. Mark Pack to the Ironton City Health Board and

• Passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to appoint John Willis to the position of code enforcement officer for the city. The previous code enforcement officer, Karl Wentz, resigned, the mayor said.