The Watseka City Council agreed to entertain the deeding of part of a road on the west side of the city.
The city heard from Jon and Lori Duden, who own the road up to their house The road has three houses on it that are in the city limits.
Lori Duden told the council Tuesday night that they have talked to city officials quite some time ago about getting the road repaired. Half of the road is in the city limits and half is in the county limits.
“All we were wanting is for the city, whose snow plows come and plow that portion of the city, to fix the road,” she said. She said they thought things were arranged and then it was brought up that since they own the road, the city doesn’t have to take care of it. She said the road still needs repaired, with two dips in the road.
She said there are three houses in the city limits that are on that road and they would like for it to be repaired.
One option to rectify the issue is that the Dudens deed the portion of the road that is in the city limits to the city.
Mayor John Allhands said that one issue has been that the snow plows and other heavy equipment need a turnaround. Lori Duden said that at this time, those trucks already back out of the area and don’t turn around.
The Dudens said they are not asking the city to plow their portion of the road, but are asking that the city fix the road.
“If they dedicate the road to the city, that’s fine,” said city attorney Joe Cainkar, “but I don’t recommend maintaining a road that is not the city’s.”
Alderman Don Miller said the water main is on private property and the city should have an easement on the property to maintain it. Cainkar said, “I don’t know how water and sewer get installed without an easement.”
Miller suggested seeing if they could get an easement for the utility and to also get a turnaround for the trucks. The turnaround property would be on private property in the city limits, not the Dudens, but had not been determined as of this meeting.
“I guess if the Dudens are willing to deed this over I don’t see another wrong with accepting the deed and taking it over,” Alderman Dennis Cahoe said. “Mr. Cainkar just got done saying we shouldn’t maintain roads that don’t belong to us. We do the same thing out here on Grant Street. We plow it and we take care of it. If we aren’t going to do this, then let’s quit doing Grant. I think we ought to accept their offer. We maintain it a little bit. They aren’t expecting a four lane highway with asphalt, curb and gutter.
“The Dudens have lived and worked in this town their entire lives. They work here, they spend their money here, they pay taxes here. I think we are sort of obligated to give them a hand.”
Cahoe asked if there are signs stating that it is a dead end road. Lori Duden said there are three signs stating that.
Allhands said they would check on the turnaround and easements. Alderman Benny Marcier said he does not believe the agreement should be dependent on the turnaround. “The easement I agree with,” he said. “This turnaround…that’s an option.”
Cainkar said he can prepare the paperwork to get the deed of the road completed.
“I think we are getting closer,” Allhands said.
In other business, the council approved an ordinance to raise the impound fee of a vehicle to $500. That motion passed 5-2 with Alderman Mark Garfield and Alderman Darrin Rushbrook voting no. Garfield said he would like to see the actual paperwork on the ordinance before voting on it. It was discussed in committee, Allhands said. Rushbrook said he thinks it could be held off one month.
The council also approved codifying the ordinances. Allhands said the city has been working on this for a while, with aldermen going over ordinances and making sure they are up to date. The city hired a company to prepared the new code books, which Cainkar said will be here soon. Allhands said there were several antiquated ordinances and it will be good to get them updated. The ordinances will be posted online also. That ordinance was approved 7-0 with Alderman Dave Mayotte absent.
For an ordinance on donation of real property, 303 S. Yount, Garfield asked about the liens against the property. “I’m not against the property, it needs to be torn down,” he said, noting that there is no money to tear it down for now. Cainkar said the back taxes are owed, but the agreement could be made so that the city doesn’t pay them. The motion was approved to accept the property 6-1 with Garfield voting no. Alderman Brandon Barragree said that the city can go over budget for demolition if it needs to.
In another matter, the council voted to not purchase a mule from Watseka Suzuki to be used in the water department. The amount of the purchase is $9,605. Voting no on the purchase were Cahoe, Garfield, Miller, Marcier and Alderwoman Monna Ulfers.
A facade grant for $5,000 was approved for Sonia Bradley and Silo Pub. That was approved 7-0. The council also approved widening the facade grant parameters to Walnut Street south to Locust, Walnut Street north to Ash Street and Route 1 north to the city limits. That also was approved 7-0.
Allhands updated the council on separation of duties for the water and sewer and public works departments. The personnel committee has been talking with the department heads, he said, noting that there are some divisions among employees. Rushbrook and Garfield said equipment has been sitting outside because of the divisions. Garfield said the city has built a new building to house all the equipment and none of it should be sitting outside.
Cahoe and Allhands were to meet with the department heads again on Wednesday. Garfield said when the project to take back the water department in house was started a couple of years ago, it was thought that they would be separate departments. “We’ve spent a lot of taxpayer money down there,” he said, noting that everyone should work together.