A train derailment near the Thrifton bridge was one of the things discussed by City Manager Todd Wilkin in his report to the Greenfield Village Council at its meeting Tuesday.
The Jan. 9 derailment was “small,” Wilkin said, as there were no injuries, no equipment was destroyed, and product to local industry was only delayed by one day.
It happened in a section of track that has long been assumed to not be the responsibility of the village since it is beyond the Thrifton sign, where it was believed the village’s responsibility ended. However, Wilkin said, since the derailment it is now known that Greenfield’s section of track extends 100 feet beyond that sign. Now that the boundary is clearly understood, a marker has been placed in that area so that those maintaining and servicing the rail will see to include that last 100 feet.
The derailed train car came to a stop on the Thrifton Road bridge, but that is not where the car derailed, and it was not the bridge that caused the derailment. The bridge may look bad, Wilkin said, but it is inspected on a weekly basis and is capable of handling the stress of the rail cars.
As to ongoing railroad matters, the village administrators have been working for months with a team of agencies including the Highland County Board of Commissioners, Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, Ohio Rail Development Commission, and Appalachian Regional Commission to secure the funding it will take to thoroughly repair the 29-mile rail spur.
So far, the village has been awarded enough grant money to be used as match money for a $3.5 million Federal Rail Administration CRISI safety grant. Wilkin said Tuesday that word of whether the multi-million dollar grant will be awarded to Greenfield should come in April.
The city manager previously said the CRISI grant funding would “go a long way” in taking care of the maintenance needs of the railroad, especially the replacement of ties along the 29-mile spur. Greenfield’s rail supports industry in the region — Adient, Candle-lite and Huhtamaki — and more than 1,200 jobs.
In other business, Wilkin and council members lauded the efforts of the Greenfield Police Department.
According to Wilkin, recent weeks have seen two of the largest drug houses in Greenfield closed down and the recovery of a “significant amount” of stolen property.
The efforts of the police department on such matters are weeks and even months in the making, Wilkin said, as law enforcement investigates.
“It’s not seen in the papers,” Wilkin said, what police do as they investigate. “These efforts aren’t orchestrated in one evening or coordinated in a few hours. The work that leads up to these types of drug busts take weeks of preparation and coordination. Our police continue to lead the efforts in felony indictments at the county level, and we appreciate their hard work and dedication.”
Council members echoed the appreciation with councilman Mark Branham saying, “I applaud them,” and councilman Eric Borsini adding his gratitude to police and fire personnel for choosing to serve the Greenfield community.
In other matters, Tuesday’s meeting was opened with a prayer delivered by Borsini. Following that prayer, the meeting proceeded normally, but at the conclusion of the meeting, Borsini addressed the act of opening the meeting with a prayer.
He said it was prompted by President Donald Trump’s recent move to make public prayer in schools something that should occur without fear of repercussion. He said it made him question why every council meeting wasn’t begun in this way, and that when he brought it up to other council members, there was no objection.
It is the intention of the council moving forward to begin each meeting with prayer, Borsini said. “We are keeping God a part of our community,” he added.
A property at 719 Spring St. had its last open house recently. Bids on the property are due Jan. 28. For those interested in bidding, a proposal form is available on the village’s website (greenfieldohio.net). It may be dropped off or mailed to Greenfield CIC c/o City Manager, 300 Jefferson St., Greenfield, Ohio 45123 and must be received by Tuesday.
It is the first of the blighted and nuisance properties that the village has taken steps to rectify through Greenfield’s Community Improvement Corporation, which has the ability to acquire, sell, and fix-up properties — things that are beyond the village itself to do.
On the related matter of blight and nuisance, the village made the decision to remove three recycling bins previously located on Mill Street due to the constant “deplorable” conditions from people dumping all sorts of refuse in that area, Wilkin said.
There is one bin located in the front of the old Shopko building, and it is monitored. It will remain there as long as it is not mistreated as the Mill Street bins were. If anyone has ideas about where recycling bins can be placed in Greenfield, feel free to share them by calling the village offices at 937-981-3500.
Wilkin reported that the McDonald’s Classic, a youth basketball tournament hosted by the Tiger Youth Basketball Organization, is set for Feb. 20-23. He mentioned it because he wants the community to be prepared for the arrival of so many people and said, “there is a lot of opportunity for commerce that weekend.”
Sixty-three teams, plus their coaches and families, are expected over the course of the tournament.
A draft of a new zoning code has been completed and is to be reviewed by council members and the committees that helped put it together before going to council for approval. Once it goes to council, the new zoning code will go through the required three readings before coming to a vote, ensuring that there is ample time for discussion and revision if necessary.
The first monthly lunch meeting with the city manager was held last Friday and Wilkin thanked everyone that turned out.
“I appreciate those who came out and asked questions, made statements, and enjoyed the wonderful food at Big City Pizza,” Wilkin said. “We will announce the location of our next lunch in the coming weeks, and hope that others will come out and enjoy the food and camaraderie that is shared.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.