Council gives mayor go-ahead to handle bridge with ODOT

City council gave the go-ahead Tuesday for Mayor John Berlin to act as the city’s go-between with the Ohio Department of Transportation regarding the 2015 project to redeck the Dean B. Cranmer bridge on West State Street.

ODOT will cover 100 percent of the costs of the improvement project, with the exception of the lighting, which falls to the city. Council already agreed last month to set aside $52,000 in capital improvements to cover the lighting cost.

Bids will be let in May for the bridge work by ODOT, but construction won’t begin until July 2015, after the 2015 Salem Super Cruise, city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said. The bridge will be closed at least 90 days, with traffic rerouted.

In another ODOT-related matter, Kenst reported that the fourth seriously-at-risk traffic light pole has been replaced, located at the corner of State Street and Ellsworth Avenue. The pole that snapped a few weeks ago, causing traffic lights to crash to the street at Broadway and State, was the first to be replaced, followed by one at the corner of State and Lincoln and now the two at Ellsworth and State.

He said ODOT District 11 personnel are reviewing the rest of the poles to decide what to do. City Electrician Mike Bibbee had reported that an ODOT project to install the traffic light poles in the mid-1990s had called for the poles to be galvanized, but it was determined the poles installed by the contractor were not galvanized. Metal objects are galvanized to protect them from the elements and make them last longer.

Councilman Rick Drummond asked if ODOT was going to pay the city’s costs for an outside engineer who tested the welds and the wall thickness on the poles. Kenst said they’ve already been asked. The city was already trying to get the state to cover the cost of replacing all the poles.

“We don’t know what ODOT’s going to do at this point,” he said.

City council heard a complaint from Jennings Avenue resident Charity Townsend, who said she and her family live beside a rental and despite having a designated parking space, the tenants park in the back yard near the public alley. She said they’ve created a 3-foot deep hole and the mud’s everywhere, including in the city-owned alley. She said it’s getting on her daughter’s shoes, in her car and in her home.

Townsend said she’s talked to the police about the parking in the yard, but was told nothing can be done. She was hoping something could be done to get the matter resolved. City Law Director Brooke Zellers said he would have to look at the ordinances.

Councilman Clyde Brown said he’s been fielding lots of complaints about people blocking alleys and parking in yards and on sidewalks. He said he drove around the city for about an hour and saw 13 cars parked in front yards, which is against the rules, and saw one on a sidewalk. He said city residents need to be aware of the rules.

In other business, council gave final approval to an ordinance regarding construction project requirements for plot diagrams prepared by a surveyor, engineer or architect. The ordinance outlined three project areas for the professionally-prepared plot diagram requirement. The areas were defined as: any structural construction addition to a permanent, non-moveable, existing structure, regardless of final completed value; permanent, non-moveable detached structures whose completion value exceeds $5,000; and non-permanent, moveable detached structures whose completion value exceeds $10,000.

Council also gave final approval to a resolution giving Kenst permission to sell the city’s surplus asphalt grindings collected during various street repair and resurfacing projects. No less than 50 percent of the sale proceeds will go into the capital improvement fund, with the rest going to streets.

Berlin announced that he appointed city resident Lucille Karnofel to fill the unexpired term on the Salem Parks Commission. Karnofel takes the spot left vacant by the resignation of longtime member Ken Schrom. Her term will expire Dec. 31, 2015.

City Treasurer John Conrad reminded residents that April 15 is the deadline for filing their city tax returns, noting that even if they don’t have any income, they still need to file a return. If a resident has a problem, they can come to the income tax office and the staff will be happy to help them.

The following upcoming committee meetings were announced: Rules & Ordinances Committee, 6:30 p.m. March 27; and Committee of the Whole, 6 p.m. March 25; both in council chambers. The city Parks Commission meets at 5 p.m. March 26 at the Memorial Building.