Progress continues on the Marriott Hotel project near the intersection of Harry Sauner Road and SR 73, and upgrades continue to be made at Liberty Park, Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said at Monday’s city council meeting.
“A couple weeks ago the city received some plans for the roadway improvements, water, sewer and storm sewer. There are a few minor discrepancies that we are waiting for them to return to us before those are approved,” Abbott said, speaking of the hotel project. “We also still do not have cost estimates from the developer for the TIF (tax increment financing) district, so we’re waiting on that as well.”
Bids have been received for a pedestrian bridge that would link Shaffer Park and Liberty Park, and Abbott said the bids were lower than expected.
She said a butterfly garden has been added to the paved trail at the park, and that butterflies are already starting to appear around the garden.
Abbott also said that in the near future benches, trash cans, charcoal grills and possibly playground equipment could be added to the park’s Harmony Lake area.
The city’s new parks committee has already received donations, Abbott said, and one of the group’s subcommittees has met with a disc golf group and is nearing installation of disc golf course at the park. She said a community garden for next year at the park is also being discussed.
“We’ve met with the trails committee, and it looks like we might be working on some trails this fall and winter on the old railroad beds and getting those open to the public, which would be great,” Abbott added.
The city has received several calls recently regarding the lights near the Hillsboro schools, Abbott said. “The ones that were currently there are out of date, so we had to order new, so those should be installed in the next week or two,” she said.
Monday’s meeting opened with Hillsboro Auditor Alex Butler telling council how the city plans to distribute $157,281 in CARES Act funding it has received. He said more money CARES Act funds could be coming to the city, but it’s too early to tell how much or when that might happen.
Council unanimously approved the city’s plans to use the money to reimburse the general fund, street fund, storm sewer fund, water fund and sewer fund on a proportional percentage of how those departments spent money due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The legislation’s going to allow me to move it from the COVID fund, where it’s all sitting, and divvy it among the different funds and departments,” Butler said.
The city would have to send the money back if it’s not spent by October, Butler said.
He said the city received enough money to refund all the money the departments had to spend due to the pandemic, with about $3,500 left over.
“We felt like that was the best way to spend that,” Butler said. “Each department, it’s as fair as it could be. What your fund or department paid out, you are reimbursed that percentage back.”
Butler also reported that the city’s revenue remains surprisingly steady.
“We anticipated much worse numbers, especially the income tax… I’m just glad we’re not here shaking our heads wondering what we’re going to do. That was a pleasant surprise,” he said.
In his report to council, mayor Justin Harsha said Kirby Ellison, a city employee dating back to 1995, will be taking over as Hillsboro’s new economic development director.
He said a lot of what Ellison currently does already involves economic development, leaving her little time to dig for grants. Harsha said that since the new city administration took over at the beginning of the year, one of its goals was to put together an economic development department. He said the administration originally planned to fund the position for next year, but decided to go ahead and get started now.
Harsha said Ellison will be writing a lot of grants and searching for new grants, an area where she has a lot of experience.
“Anything we can get our hands on as far as funding, we want her involved. It’s going to be a big job,” Harsha said.
The city is also hiring an economic development assistant and grant writer to work alongside Ellison, according to Harsha.
In other news, council voted unanimously to approve emergency legislation to vacate an alley at 415 Trenton Street that has never been opened.
“It’s simply on a map somewhere as a plan. The property owners are trying to transfer the property and have not been able to because the map office doesn’t have the ability to do that without some action on that vacated alley,” council president Tom Eichinger said. “As I understand it, this has been underway for close to a year now.”
Adam Wilkin, chairman of the street and safety committee, said the committee met Aug. 10 to continue to talk about local food trucks. He said the the committee was told that food truck owners/employees are required to pay city income tax if they work more than 20 days a year in the city. He said legislation is being prepared to address how food trucks can operate in the city, and that the legislation should be ready by October’s council meeting.
Council member Patty Day said her committee met Aug. 19 to discuss food trucks and a recommendation by a local resident that would let drivers only exit alleys in the city to the right. She recommended the alley issue be assigned to the street and safety committee.
She said the alley issue came up after several residents complained about drive through windows in alleys. She said that according to city codes, drive throughs can be located in alleys as long as they do not exceed a two-year permit. She recommended that issue be placed with the planning commission.
Also during the meeting, council heard a request to transfer a liquor license from Bliss Stark in Caton to R&B Beer & Tobacco Junction on Harry Sauner Road. Eichinger said that since there were no objections, the request would be sent back to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for approval.
The council president said it is possible that October’s council meeting will have to be moved from the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District building where they have been held in recent months. He said council will not be allowed to use that building and has no other location to go to at this time. He said it may have to revert to a virtual meeting on Zoom.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.