With the recent boil alert that came following a drop in water pressure caused by a power loss at the pump station, it was but another drop in the proverbial bucket with the water-related issues of late, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin said in his report this week to village council.
Wilkin said the village is mandated by law to issue a boil alert as a precaution when there is a drop in water pressure. So the village did, then sent off samples for testing, and all were negative for any contaminants. The boil alert was lifted two days after it was issued.
The village notified the local newspapers, radio, and posted to social media about the boil alert. Still, comments flooded in about a notification system. The village no longer has an all-call system, but Wilkin said the new website, due to go live later this year, will have a notification section. It also may be possible to use the school’s all-call system in such situations, according to councilman Chris Borreson, who said he believes the school agreed to that when the village ceased its all-call system. This will likely be an option for future incidents, Wilkin said.
The village had also been working on an ongoing problem on Edgewood Avenue — a leak in a 10-inch pipe. Wilkin said if there was anything that could go wrong with this particular leak, it did. Every valve surrounding the leak broke and the village had to order specific parts and equipment to be able to turn the 10-inch main off to fix the leak.
“I realize the leak was unfortunate and a nuisance to the property owners in the area, but I promise you that the employees were putting all their efforts into trying to rectify the situation,” Wilkin said.
Village employees Tim Beach, Rachel Watson, Charles Davis, John Brewer, and Justin Sword were all thanked by the village administration for their efforts in fixing the troublesome leak. Beach, who has been with the village for 24 years, said the Edgewood Avenue water leak was the worst he had seen in that time.
Wilkin said there have been other leaks around the village, which is a problem usually seen in winter, not summer. The water issues have required “all hands on deck,” Wilkin said, and they have pulled other village employees away from their normal routine.
However, with things getting squared away, that normal routine is attainable again, and to that end, a “pothole blitz” is planned for next week.
Additionally, two new employees have been hired for the street department, a matter that is within the village’s current budget and staffing, Wilkin said.
In a water-related matter, a gateway radio read system previously discussed at council is nearly complete. The Beacon software will allow for water meters across the village to be read twice daily, which will help identify high usage or a potential leak early.
The system will save residents and the village water and money, Wilkin said. He said the goal is to have all meters online by mid-October.
In other business, Wilkin thanked members of the police department for their efforts in “removing a nuisance from our streets.”
That was regarding a property at 207 Edgewood Ave. that has had a number of complaints against it. There has been no running water to the property since 2011, Wilkin said, and there are thousands in delinquent taxes attached to the property.
Greenfield police served a search warrant at the address, Wilkin said, “and removed a few individuals who were illegally living in the home.”
After an inspection of the property, signs were posted prohibiting trespassing, then the property was condemned and boarded up.
The Greenfield’s Community Improvement Corporation is slated to acquire the property through an expedited foreclosure process permitted by Ohio law that would remove any liens or delinquent taxes from the property.
Wilkin reported that ODOT has increased its grant for a Mill Street project from $57,500 to $80,000, which allows for further reduction to the loan amount for Greenfield.
The project will consist of improvement of the water and sewer infrastructure, new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and create an entrance to the industrial park at the end of Mill Street.
The loan amount applied for, and granted, was $401,000. With the additional grant dollars from ODOT, the village’s loan amount became $321,000, the city manager said. A $47,000 grant from Appalachian Regional Commission reduced the loan amount further to $214,000.
The village is currently reviewing a bid for accurate scope and pricing on the project, which is currently set to begin next month.
The city manager addressed comments durng his report regarding the village having to pay out “match money” on grants for projects in the works, which would bankrupt the village. But Wilkin said that is not accurate.
A grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission match was for $49,000, which came from the sewer and water funds. A critical infrastructure grant match was for $68,250, and will come from street department funds. The Nature Works grant that provided improvements at Mitchell Park has an in-kind labor and materials match.
“The village will be performing $1,484,622 worth of work through grants in 2019,” Wilkin said. “Of that, we have $117,250 in match money associated with that work. That is less than 8 percent of the total funds we have secured for Greenfield.”
Additionally, Wilkin said he and finance director Carolyn Snodgrass have to each sign off on the grant applications and requested funding, and at times have debated the match dollars. In the end, he said, the goal is always to improve the village, not bankrupt it.
In other matters, Wilkin said he will be meeting with the Madison Township trustees at their upcoming meeting to discuss annexation of “the old Black Family farm” near the industrial park. As the school district now owns the land, it wants the property to be annexed into the village.
The village has met with the Highland County Planning Commission, the Highland County Commissioners, and the Highland County Engineer “to help assist the school and push the annexation through.”
On railroad matters, Wilkin, along with Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan, met with Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty regarding Greenfield’s 29-mile railroad spur that is in need of work, both on infrastructure and financial stability.
The yearly revenue is about $60,000 a year, Wilkin said, but the railroad costs the village about $100,000 a year.
Wilkin said he and Duncan emphasized the jobs dependent on the railroad — approximately 1,000 between Adient, Candle-lite and Huhtamaki — and the regional impact of those jobs. McCarty said he would speak to the other commissioners. Wilkin added that he believes “we will be talking with them again about financial partnerships to invest in our rail.”
Matt Dietrich with the Ohio Rail Development Commission has agreed to help the village through the railroad matters, Wilkin said, and Greenfield will be applying for a grant through the agency to help offset the costs.
Also, a project focused on the repair of two bridges on the line was ranked first in the county last week at a meeting of the Highland County Commissioners and Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission to review the latest ARC grant applications. Greenfield’s project ranked first out of three projects in the county, but that is no guarantee the village will be awarded the $250,000 grant, Wilkin said. But the ranking puts the village in a better position to receive the funding.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.