GREENVILLE — It was “standing room only” at Greenville City Council as a large turnout of citizens gathered to show their support for the construction of an urban park in downtown Greenville.
Council unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing the project, spearheaded by the Y.O.L.O. Organization. The group is seeking to build an urban park at 100 Martin Street, at the intersection of Martin Street and South Broadway.
The estimated total cost of the project is $500,000. Upon completion, ownership of the property will be transferred to the city.
Members of the community spoke to council during the public hearing portion of the session, with most urging council to approve the project. These included project lead Phillip Pierri, Darke County Visitors Bureau Director Matt Staugler, Main Street Greenville Director Amber Garrett, former Greenville Mayor Mike Bowers, and Darke County United Way Campaign Chair Matt Jordan.
One citizen, Mark Heggie, expressed his disapproval of the project, citing his concerns with public safety at the intersection and the costs involved.
“The cost of this project is just astronomical,” he said.
Pierri says the final project design is still in the works. The initial cost estimate was $750,000.
“We have taken a few things out of the original design so the cost is less than the initial estimate,” he explained. “We are moving forward on the design ASAP and hopefully be able to file the final grant application this month. Once that is all approved, we’ll be able to move forward. I would hope to break ground in the spring.”
“I’m very excited that city council was a unanimous ‘yes.’ It shows a lot of support and trust the council is giving our organization. We’re very excited to get started and continue to help make Greenville better than it already is,” Pierri added.
Mayor Steve Willman presented a check for $9,000 from the city to representatives of the Friends of Harmon Field group, which is seeking to renovate the sports complex at Greenville High School.
Council also received a number of committee reports, including a report recommending increasing compensation for Council President (to $7,200), City Treasurer (to $6,000), and Council Members at large (to $6,000).
Councilman Todd Oliver expressed an objection to the $6,000 increase for at-large council members, saying he’d prefer seeing the raise scaled back to $5,400 instead.
“From the current salary of this position, $4,400, to take it from there to $6,000 is a bit of a stretch,” he said.
Council amended the committee report recommendation from $6,000 to $5,400. The committee’s report was added to the agenda to be voted upon, where council agreed to the pay increase for the president and treasurer, but Councilman Leon Rogers voted against suspending second and third readings of the measure for increasing the pay for at-large council members, thus pushing a final vote on the issue until at least the next meeting.
The increases will not take effect until January 1, 2018.
Council approved an ordinance transferring $6,000 for the replacement of traffic signals at Harmon and North Broadway and $5,000 for a lime sludge removal contract. Also approved were ordinances hiring a part-time custodian for the Municipal Building, and the establishment of youth rates for Greenville Transit System, with children under 5 years of age being allowed to ride free, and children 5 through 17 paying $1, all accompanied by a paying adult.
Though not on the agenda, council members addressed an ongoing issue regarding the Erwin Bros. fuel stop being constructed south of Greenville.
Councilman Tracy Tryon expressed his frustration with the inability of the city, county and the business to come to an agreement on the city providing water and sewer services for the fuel stop, the lack of which has prevented the business from opening.
“We’re doing a disservice, not to the Erwin Bros. — yes, they’re hurting because they’re not opening up — but I don’t know how many numerous businesses, small businesses, that are relying on Erwin Bros., because they have their inventory, their stock in there,” he said.
Tryon also brought up the point that the fuel stop was being backed financially by a local institution.
“If we would like to see further investment by that institution, we best be able to work with them,” he said.
Council members Dori Howdieshell, Clarence Godwin, and Rogers also expressed agreement that there needs to be a breakthrough.
“We’re talking about economic development, people,” said Rogers. “We need to move forward. We are putting a black eye on this county and city, and we do not want that. Let’s get this thing solved.”
Greenville City Council meets 7:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Municipal Building, 100 Public Square. Citizens are welcome to attend and address council.
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