Council OKs bidding for water work

City council gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the utilities department to seek bids on a circulation system for the Stewart Road Reservoir and to replace a water line on East 12th Street.

Both measures were passed as an emergency with all three readings at once, based on a recommendation by the Utilities Committee of city council, which met recently to hear an overview of both projects by Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart.

Weingart noted that the legislation related to the Stewart Road reservoir may or may not come into play, depending on whether the estimated cost exceeds $50,000, which would then require a

bidding process. He wanted to have everything in place in case going out to bid becomes a requirement.

By law, a project costing less than $50,000 does not have to be bid out.

The city Utilities Commission has been discussing the project to improve flow and circulation at the Stewart Road Reservoir for several months to improve water age and reduce the amount of disinfectant by-products in the water system. The by-products are formed when naturally-occurring organics come into the water supply and react with the chlorine used as a disinfectant to control contaminants in the water.

Improving the circulation of water at the reservoir can help in the battle against those by-products.

For the 12th Street water main project, Weingart said the current 2-inch water main on 12th Street between North Lincoln Avenue and North Union Avenue has had a lot of leaks, leading to costly repairs. Plans call for installation of a new 6-inch water main to improve the infrastructure.

Both projects have been planned for in the utilities department budget.

In other business, Councilman Clyde Brown questioned city Law Director Brooke Zellers about an agreement between the city and the owner of Downtown Metals & Recycling, asking “is it worth the paper it’s printed on?” He rephrased his question at Zellers’ request and asked if it was enforceable.

Zellers responded that he wasn’t sure that it was an actual agreement but that the business owner needed to be in compliance with zoning. He agreed that it would appear to be binding. The agreement in question dealt with previous issues at the West Pershing Street site and what was required for compliance with city ordinances. Besides having a fence installed, which the business did, the agreement called for empty dumpsters to be located within existing buildings on site to be loaded while under cover and then removed.

Vehicles were to no longer be stored or processed at the West Pershing Street site, with Downtown Metals to construct a suitable building to wholly contain the process of cutting and shearing any additional metal items and loaded into containers inside the building.

The owner of the business purchased the old Pittsburgh Foundry building on West Wilson Street last year and was recently ordered to cease and desist from any auto wrecking, scrap or junk activities on the property based on an ordinance council passed last fall to prohibit auto wrecking, scrap and junk activities in light industrial and heavy industrial zoning districts.

Brown also thanked Mayor John Berlin for an email reply sent to Brown which Brown read stating enforcement of ordinances related to scrap yards will take place.

In the area of economic development, downtown building owner Scott Cahill addressed council, urging the members to make the changes necessary to make Salem vibrant again.

Cahill and his wife, Lisa, led a group of citizens who put together a Technical Advisory Committee report last year on revitalizing downtown. He said Salem is a very special place and now is the city’s most critical time for taking action.

He said he’s planning to return to council with some written information and isn’t planning on going away anytime soon. He said zoning matters and if something’s not working, things need to change.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey reported that she held an infrastructure subcommittee meeting as part of the planning process city council members have been working on since last year to come up with their own plan for spending and taking action related to what’s needed in the city.

Councilman Dave Nestic noted that each member of the subcommittee dealing with infrastructure improvements was provided copies of the TAC report and the Sustainable Development report done several years ago. He wanted to assure Cahill that the report he helped compile is being studied.

Brown announced a couple of upcoming meetings. The Utilities Committee of city council will meet at 6:30 p.m. May 13 and a meeting for Second Ward residents will be held at 6:30 June 24, both in council chambers at city hall. Councilman Rick Drummond, whose recent Third Ward meeting was not very well-attended, said he’ll be setting up a date for another one and try to advertise it better, but no date was set.

The next city council meeting is 7 p.m. May 20.