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Village Council—Joint responsiblity for alley care

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Alley upkeep is the joint responsibility of Village government and local property owners, according to Village Manager Patti Bates at the May 2  meeting of Yellow Springs Village Council. And if Yellow Springers call Village government to alert staff about alley potholes, the Village crew will come out to fix them.

“That has been, and continues to be, our policy,” Bates said.

The alley issue was brought to Council by Stafford Street resident Liz Porter, who spoke during the Citizen Concerns portion of the meeting. A frequent walker in local alleys, Porter who had also written a letter to Council, praised alleys for their quiet and natural beauty.

“I think the alleys are such a treasure,” she said.

Speaking to Council, Porter said she was unclear who is responsible for alley upkeep, since she was told by a Village employee several years ago that upkeep was the responsibilitty of the property owners who abut them. Such a policy is unfair, Porter said, because the alleys are part of the local transportation infrastructure.

“I want Council to explore the issue,” she said at the meeting.

However, the Village official who previously spoke to Porter was mistaken, according to Bates. Rather, Village crews do respond to complaints about problems with alleys, although the policy tends to be reactive rather than proactive.

“If your concern is about a pothole, Jason will put it on the work schedule and it will be taken care of as soon as possible,” Bates said in a written statement.

However, property owners have some responsibility for the bushes that hang over alleyways, Bates said, stating that the property owner should keep bushes trimmed so that the alleys are usable. If the residents don’t trim the bushes, Village crew members will do so.

But villagers who care how their bushes look might want to trim the bushes themselves, Bates said, emphasizing that Village crew members aren’t professional landscapers and will simply trim bushes back rather than shape them.

Those with concerns about alley bushes or potholes should call Bates at 767-1279 or Streets Crew Head Jason Hamby at 767-7205.

In other Council business:

• Council members began a discussion on how best to use funds from the sale of Village-owned property. Two pieces of Village property will be sold soon, including a portion of the Sutton Farm to Glen Helen, and land on Cemetery Street to Home Inc.

It’s considered best practice to use income from land sales on special projects rather than operational expenses, since the sales are one-time events and consequently not part of the Village budget, according to Bates. Council President Karen Wintrow suggested that, when determining how best to use the income from the sale, Council members consider the land’s purpose before being sold.

For example, part of the Cemetery Street property had previously been earmarked to provide parking for the now defunct Northern Gateway project, so the income of that land sale could go into parking needs in other parts of the Village, Wintrow said.

And because the Village crew quarters are in need of repair, part of the Sutton Farm land income could go toward upgrading those quarters, Bates suggested. Hempfling urged that part of that sale income also go toward replenishing the Village greenspace fund.

“There’re all kinds of projects,” Wintrow said.

Council will continue the discussion of how best to use the income from land sales at a later date.

• Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis presented Council with a timeline for the Glen’s proposed purchase of 76 acres of the Village-owned Sutton Farm. The Glen had previously stated its interest in purchasing the land, with the help of a Clean Ohio grant, because it would be useful in allowing Glen staff to better manage Glen waterways and wildlife.

While an official appraisal of the land’s value has not yet been completed, it’s estimated that the land is worth about $300,000, and that the Glen would pay about $205,000, so that the Village is contributing about $100,000 to the Glen. The Village donation shows community support for the sale and thus will help the Glen win the Clean Ohio grant, Boutis has said.

The grant application is due July 1, so that Council needs to approve a letter stating its intent to sell the land as soon as possible. Council tasked Bates with drafting the letter for Council’s next meeting.

• Bates reported that phase 3 of the downtown streetscape project, including sidewalk upgrades on the west side of Xenia Avenue, is on schedule and expected to conclude at the end of May.

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that approves the purchase of landfill gas as an addition to the Village electric portfolio. The purchase was recommended by the Energy Board as a way to increase renewable energy sources in the portfolio.

• Council considered agenda items on the upcoming special working session with members of Springs-Net, a local group which is urging Council to create a municipal fiber optic system. The special meeting will take place Wednesday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at Bryan Center Rooms A and B.

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers at the Bryan Center.

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Village Council—Joint responsiblity for alley care

by Diane Chiddister