Linton council addresses residents’ concerns, applauds Pride in the Park

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Linton City Council, minus member Les Newman, met before a sizable audience Monday evening at Linton Town Hall.

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Linton Stockton Elementary fourth-grader Chloe Bailey.

In 2018, the then four-year-old Bailey was selected as the Linton Freedom Festival’s Little Miss Sparkler, next to her self-professed boyfriend, Little Mister Firecracker Lucas Spears.

Linton resident Carolyn Earle addressed the council, expressing her concern over a nearby neighbor said to be planning to open a pool hall at his residence on 12th Street. Earle cited excessive traffic, speed limit infractions and noise among her concerns and asked the council to consider enacting an ordinance prohibiting businesses from operating in residential neighborhoods.

After some discussion, Council Vice President Tony Richards told Earle he had spoken with the neighbor and said the man plans to live at the residence and makes and sells hand-crafted pool cues. Richards said the man has no plans to open a pool hall at the location.

The council listened to an appeal from another resident, Jerry May. May owns several rental properties in the city and told the council an existing city ordinance defining the responsibility of property owners to remit payment for services provided by municipally-owned utilities to rental properties was illegal.

To support his claim, May offered the Mayor and council members copies of Official Opinion 2020-2, a document sent to State Representative Woody Burton by the Indiana Attorney General.

Though the document and official opinion it detailed did seem, in conclusion, to declare a municipal utility cannot hold a property owner responsible for tenant’s utility bills, further examination of the document reveals the Attorney General’s opinion that any doubts about whether such a requirement is permissible “could be resolved by amending Ind. Code 8-1.5-3-8 to clarify that a municipality may not require a landlord to agree to be responsible for a tenant’s utility bills”, indicating an amendment would be necessary in order to relieve the landlord’s responsibilities.

Further, the document offered an opinion, not a ruling, was generated in 2020 and authored by former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, whose legal reputation has been well-documented, is not relevant to May’s situation and can be learned through a simple internet search by anyone desiring to learn more.

The council explained to May it was not willing to consider an amendment based on an interpretation filed by a former state official.

May continued briefly, reporting a fallen pole at 568 G. St., which he said was reported and not yet fixed. May said the pole is leaning on a mobile home, He then stated it was his understanding that the city sanitation department would pick up brush left out for pick up, and said his had not been picked up by workers. He offered no information as to whether the brush was stacked in manageably-sized pieces or put out in a container.

A status report was given by Linton Park Board President Janette Evans. Evans, who serves with fellow board members John Cotter, Tim Bledsoe, Gayle Margraf and Herb Abbott, works closely with the nonprofit Pride in the Park, Inc., whose president is her spouse, Bob Evans and vice president is John Cotter.

Both entities have worked together for some years, executing over $300,000 in more than 22 projects and improvements to Humphreys Park.

In 2023, the groups worked together to replace all exterior doors in the Roy Clark Building, installed carpet on the walls to deaden sound, purchased two folding chair racks, updated the kitchen and renewed the building’s front facade. Elsewhere in the park, they replaced two existing open shelter houses, installed two permanent picnic tables, installed a new playground set, planted five new trees to add to the 35 trees added in recent years and restored the roof of the summer kitchen adjacent to the East Shelter House.

On the group’s to-do list, Evans said, are several more projects, including improvements to park lighting and the band shell, installing 10 to 15 accessible park benches, adding more trees and installing cushioning to existing play equipment not slated to be replaced.

To date, all projects at the park have been accomplished through grant awards and public fundraising.

Historically, Evans said, city budgeting for the park system has focused on payment of utilities and funding part-time employees to maintain facilities.

Evans asked the council for their consideration in establishing a funding stream for capital improvements and major maintenance issues and said the Park Board would like to work with the city to develop an annual park budget to provide predictable funding, which could be used to execute the five-year park master plan currently under development.

Mayor Preble and the council agreed to consider the proposal, suggesting an online survey of the park’s user base be put in use to determine the priorities of city residents.

In other business:

Council President Linda Bedwell made a motion to reappoint Kristy Lewellyn to the Greene County Convention, Visitors and Tourism Commission. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.

Other appointments approved by the Council included Tom Bailey as flood plain administrator and Jathan Wright to the Economic Development Commission Board.

City Utilities Manager commended Bailey for his hard work on sewer projects, saying he wanted to offer a public “pat on the back” to Bailey.

Bailey shared with all the location of the streets included in the next phase of the Community Crossings program.

The next phase will include:

• Oak Street from Meadow Lane to the dead end

• Chris Schenkel Drive from Willow Lane to the dead end

• SE 7th St. from SE Vincennes St. to SR 54

• NE D St from N Main St. to NE 2nd St.

A donation in the amount of $500 was given to the Linton Fire Department in support of the upcoming Fire Training Tower by Dave O’Brien of the Buck Creek Muzzle Loaders.

The next meeting of the Linton City Council will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 11 at City Hall.

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