This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

An unusually long City Council meeting

At its first meeting of May, the Rensselaer City Council approved use of Potawatomie Park for the Rock the Arts Festival on July 29. It also heard a brief presentation about endangered historical structures in Jasper County. Of the Jasper County properties listed as endangered in 2005, one (Hanging Grove School) has been demolished and four others saved. The Historical Preservation group intends to make a new list that will include two properties currently owned by the City, the old Monnett school building and Well House Number One on College Avenue. (A bit later in the meeting the Council gave the Mayor the authority to sign the sale papers for the Monnett building if the proposed sale goes through.)

The longest part of the meeting was discussion of the INDOT property in the northeast part of Rensselaer. KIRPSE has a grant of $800,000 to deal with brownfield sites and working with them is a company called SME. A geologist from SME told the Council that the INDOT property had had three underground storage tanks that had been removed. However, they had leaked and in order to clean up the site, 3700 tons of soil had been removed. There was still some localized contamination several feet below the surface near the center of the lot. Although that contamination did not seem to be moving, there will be several covenants on the property. It cannot be used for residential purposes or for daily care or for agriculture. There can be no water wells. If any digging is done below four feet, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management must be informed. He said if the City acquires the land, it should not use it for fuel storage or fuel transfer because if there are issues with the contamination migrating in the future, the State would then argue that the contamination was caused by the more recent fuel storage or transfer.

It was not clear if the State would give the property to the City, but the City is unlikely to be willing to pay for it. The City may not be willing to take the property even if it is available at no cost. Councilman Barton and City Attorney Riley expressed strong reservations about acquiring the property. The most likely use of the property would be for storing materials and parking vehicles. The Council agreed to seek another environmental study because the previous one had expired. There should be no cost to the City for the study.

(Left alone, microbes will eventually degrade the chemicals. So it is not something that will last forever.)

The Council approved a gas tracker decrease of 14 cents per hundred cubic feet for May. On May 3 there was a committee meeting about tax abatement and the committee recommended to the Council to continue abatements to ConAgra, Donaldsons, Genova, American Melt Blown, IMPA, and National Gypsum. All were granted. The Mayor asked the Council for a donation of $500 for the traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial planned for 2018 and it was approved. The project already has had donations of about $7000. There are three candidates seeking the Council's School Board appointment and a time was selected to interview the candidates.

Work is finishing up at the high water treatment plant, which has been operational for two and a half weeks. Late on Monday Lincoln Street reopened for traffic.
The fence around the plant is almost finished. Landscaping will continue for a a few weeks.

Several Councilmen commended the Street Department for their hard work with Cleanup Week. Below is a picture of the convoy of vehicles that took part.
If the weather permits, paving of Grace Street will take place Tuesday. Finally, someone mentioned that the County has purchased the stone that is at the Babcock Quarry and has begun to move it out.

The meeting lasted almost an hour and a half. Many meetings finish in about 30 minutes.

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