Council members stress need for street levy

As a vote draws near to approve or deny a levy issue for the village of Bethel, the council reported on Oct. 9 that you sometimes have to spend money to save it.

A new police cruiser, said Councilwoman Donna Gunn, averages almost double the gas mileage of their old cruisers. However, money discussion soon turned to their road and bridge levy that will be responsible for replacing a number of broken infrastructure items within the village.

“This is some of what we’ve been looking at as far as bridge and sidewalk issues,” said Councilman Tim Cherry. “We have a tour of the town so to speak. The South Union bridge, this is the headwall, and I don’t know if someone is building a stone wall from this, but they are being pulled out. It’s continuing to erode. Other common problems we’re seeing corrugated pipe that’s rusted out. When you have rusting steal with concrete, it erodes the concrete.”

Cherry narrated an electronic presentation of several bridges and related structures within the village that, he said, are simply falling apart. Culverts, foot bridges, road bridges and creek bank supports have deteriorated around the village, and serious structure failures are only a matter of time, said Cherry.

“A lot of times, you get water that comes out of that culvert that gets behind the headwall, and it freezes and thaws and wreaks havoc on the rockwork there,” said Cherry. “That’s a condition we need to keep an eye on. On South Charity, we have another instance of stonework that’s falling apart. There is a footbridge, and if you see the joint in the center, there is a crack that goes from end to end. The support for that foot bridge has the potential for being lost if we have a few heavy rains. There is a gutter collector that appears to be a handmade woodshop project. You can see where some of this has been patched up instead of corrected.”

On Bone Street, for instance, the entire roadway may be lost if the utility poles used as a bank support in the creek aren’t removed and replaced with something better soon. Railings on foot bridges in the village have fallen apart or been stolen, and settling has caused separations in foot bridges that could cause people to trip.

“We have differential settling in the sidewalk where the footbridge is, which is a good trip hazard,” said Cherry. “This is what we ride across and walk across and what we don’t know about. Hopefully, it’s an eye-opener that emphasizes the need for the levy. We need to turn our focus on it as a village.”

While the village hopes to patch and repair any possible trip hazards right away, the overall situation will only be fixable with levy dollars, said Gunn.

“Some of the village residents have questioned whether they should vote for the levy because we as a council bought these three properties,” said Gunn. “They want to know why we are not renting them out. I wouldn’t feel good about renting them out to my neighbor’s dog. If we did rent them out, the amount of renovation money would be extensive. I hope people put that aside and vote for this levy, because Tim has shown us how badly we need the money.”

The levy will represent a replacement, with no additional millage, to a levy that is currently collecting funds for the village.

The council also discussed the process of finding a new member of council to fill the seat vacated by Mayor Travis Dotson, who assumed the mayor’s position after former mayor Kevin Perkins resigned.

“The Ohio Revised Code is byzantine on this,” said village solicitor George Leicht. “Basically, Travis has to decide what he wants. His term as a council member goes longer than the term as mayor. You have to announce if you want to hold onto your seat. We can fill the seat until the term as mayor ends. We can elect someone to fill this seat while Travis serves as mayor.”

“Basically, I have a choice to hold my chair,” said Dotson. “We can select someone to fill that chair for a year. Then, if I decide to run for mayor and get elected, then what?”

According to Leicht, the village will have the option to then fill the seat for the remainder of Dotson’s term, which will end in 2009.

In other business: