In what Hillsboro officials called a routine infrastructure project, city crews tore up an entire lane of Gov. Trimble Place in the uptown area this week, leading some to wonder if there was more to the project than authorities initially said — and few detailed answers were provided when The Times-Gazette asked city officials questions about the project on Wednesday.
In response to rumors of the road being changed to a one-way street, Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie said via text message that the project was “no big deal.”
“Just some infrastructure work,” he said. “Conduit running for lights, sidewalk and gutter replacement, and some waterline repairs. Take rumors with a grain of salt.”
When asked if there would be any changes to parking or the right-of-way, McKenzie said, “Not yet.”
When asked to clarify, the safety and service director said, “There was a plan for a green space long before I started. I don’t think that’s a lost idea.”
In 2015, Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings championed a project that would have turned Gov. Trimble into a plaza that would include trees, benches and decorative landscaping.
Some said at the time that a plaza would restrict traffic flow and make parking more complicated. Others supported the idea, saying a plaza would beautify the uptown area and encourage a community atmosphere.
Hastings said Wednesday, “There may be some parking spaces lost, or they will get moved to the other side of the courthouse.” He referred additional questions to McKenzie, who did not immediately respond to further inquiries.
As previously reported, Gov. Trimble was closed Tuesday and will likely remain closed for several weeks as city crews continue their work.
McKenzie said Monday that crews will place a decorative clock on the curb in front of the old fire station, install streetlights and demolish the structure known as the Armintrout building.
McKenzie said crews would have to cut through the asphalt on Gov. Trimble to install an electric conduit for the clock, which will be placed near the curb at the intersection of Gov. Trimble and North High Street, on the corner in front of the former firehouse.
According to Hastings, the clock will be paid for with funds from a $78,000 gift donated to the city in 2013 from a trust courtesy of William Mason Jr., intended to be used at Hastings’ discretion.
McKenzie said crews will pour concrete for the clock and let it set for two weeks to cure before the clock company installs the timepiece.
McKenzie said workers will also install streetlights and brick pavers along Gov. Trimble, which, he added, is the only street in the uptown area that does not have street lighting.
Crews will also place streetlights and brick pavers along the block of North High Street catty-cornered to Gov. Trimble, McKenzie said.
According to McKenzie, crews will also begin demolishing the Armintrout building at the intersection of Gov. Trimble and Gov. Foraker Place in coming weeks as Gov. Trimble remains closed. McKenzie said the demolition will take an estimated 10 days.
“It’s going to be a lot of hand work to start with because it’s a taller building,” McKenzie said. “We have to get it down to a safe level so things aren’t dropping on your head. So that’s going to be pretty time consuming.”
Hastings, who owns the building, has said it is blighted and beyond repair. He plans to create parking spaces for tenants of an adjoining property, including The Times-Gazette.
As previously reported, under the city’s demolition assistance plan, the city will front the expense for the demolition, estimated at about $30,000, and Hastings will repay it through tax assessments on the property over the next several years.
McKenzie said on Monday that he had not yet received confirmation on the start date for the demolition, but that the building would be down within the next couple weeks.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.