Streets focus for Toronto council

TORONTO – City streets and infrastructure were discussed during Monday’s City Council meeting

Mayor John Geddis said inclement weather had seriously delayed the city’s water line replacement project. He added the harsh weather had been hard on city streets and infrastructure this winter.

We’ve laid 80 percent of the (new) line,” said Geddis, adding during a normal winter the project would probably be buttoned up by now. “A lot of people have asked me why we did this during the winter, but it would have been too dusty during the summer.”

The mayor also said the laying of asphalt on city streets would be extensive. He also said city crews have had to deal with several water line breaks, while the mayor previously had said Columbia Gas Co. had been tearing up city streets to repair some ruptured lines.

Geddis said the city was expecting more salt to arrive today, and the city would be ready to deal with any snow predicted for Wednesday.

“We’ve got two tons salt coming (today),” he said. “We should be in good shape.”

Several council members also said a portion of Third Street near the recent demolition of the former Toronto High School has been sagging since the demolition. It was discussed that equipment used for the demolition might have caused the damage.

“It’s hard to do a demolition in a residential neighborhood like that,” said the mayor, adding he hopes any new parking lot there would be sloped correctly or that drainage basins would be installed.

Councilman at large Ron Holmes, chairman of the streets and alleys committee, told the mayor several curbs throughout the city were damaged and asked if there was money available for replacement.

Curbs and sidewalks are the residents’ responsibility, according to city ordinances.

The mayor responded it was difficult to find grant funding for replacement of curbs. Geddis also said he believed some of the curbs had been damaged by large tractor-trailers coming into the city. He added trucks are supposed to enter the city at the Fourth Street exit, and that while most do, some don’t. He said residents parking up to the city’s stop signs also made it difficult for large trucks to properly maneuver in the city, sometimes forcing trucks onto curbs.

The mayor also asked residents to not throw snow from residential sidewalks and curbs onto city streets.

“People will come up and ask me, ‘Where do I put the snow?'” Geddis said. “I tell them to throw it back into their yard.”

The mayor also asked residents to sweep the street in front of their houses whenever possible, as some of the debris was hard on the city’s street sweepers.

“I saw two good citizens today sweeping the street in front of their houses,” Geddis said.

City Solicitor Craig Allen told council the city’s water current water policy needed to be overhauled, and the current policy was prejudicial and possibly unconstitutional. He added some landlords had run up water bills into the thousands for only one month.

“You would think these (landlords) who own these properties would be smart enough to ask us to turn the water off when the (residence) is vacant,” said Geddis, adding vacant residences needed to be winterized.

“There’s no reason the city should have to pay for this.”

Geddis also said while delinquent water customers are given the benefit of a doubt, once a customer doesn’t pay his or her bill, the city has the right to shut off their service.

“I don’t really want to shut off their service,” he said, adding the funds are needed for upkeep of the city’s water systems. “I just want the revenue.”

Council also adopted a resolution commending Mike Sabol of Boy Scout Troop 41 for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout for his project, which was erecting a welcome sign into the city. Several council members thanked him for his service and the achievement.

Council also adopted a resolution of sympathy marking the death of former city fire department Capt. Dave Cottrell. Council members congratulated Toronto Junior Senior High School pupil Nathan Keenan for winning the Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee for the second year in a row.