Nappanee council hears Internet, speeding concerns | News

NAPPANEE — A variety of issues were brought to the Nappanee City Council Monday night at a packed meeting and the mayor clarified the Wellfield Park timeline that was challenged at the last meeting.

Resident Barbara Keck brought up four issues — two of which she was bringing because she has been “monitoring the Facebook page of City of Nappanee and Wakarusa and there are repeatedly concerns about Internet services.”

Keck suggested a thorough study should be undertaken. She said there have also been repeated complaints about speeding on city streets.

She also asked what the city was using the American Recovery Plan funds on and why there were no recycling bins in city parks.

Mayor Phil Jenkins responded that there are multiple Internet providers in the city, but if residents don’t have minimal coverage they can contact the Office of Community Rural Affairs and they’ll be put on a list. As for the ARPA funds, he said the city has received half — about $1.5 million — and with the city’s water projects they’d probably use it on water and sewer to offset future rate increases.

Jenkins asked Police Chief Steve Rulli to respond to the speeding issue. Rulli said obviously they can’t be everywhere so when they get a complaint they place a mobile speed sign in the area so they can get date on average speeds and specific times of day when there’s speeding so they know best when to patrol the area.

Jenkins said he’d forward the question about recycling bins in the parks to Park Superintendent Chris Davis.

Judy Spicher, who lives on South Locke Street near the Tri State mill, came with pictures to show the council. She said the issue of the slimy grain continues to be a problem for her. She has children with medical needs and they can’t be outside. One boy had 14 surgeries last year. She said she’s been complaining about Tri State for three years and asked why Tri State hasn’t been required to do anything.

“Every day that stuff is all over — they clean it up but it’s everywhere — it stinks, it’s noisy; we have to clean our pool filter every two weeks,” Spicher said. “They’re not doing anything because they don’t have to.”

Jenkins said last year they toured the facility and owner Travis Luke explained improvements he was making. Spicher asked if he had made them and the mayor said he wasn’t sure all of them had been made but he would contact the owner and get back with Spicher within a week.

Council Member David Kauffman asked Spicher if there’d been any change at all

“No, it’s gotten worse,” Spicher replied.

Dominique Byers was there for speeding issues and felt a 25 mph speed limit was too high for side streets and asked if it could be changed to 15 mph. She was concerned about drivers not having enough time to stop if kids ran out into the street.

The mayor said that was a board of works issue but they tend to use the recommended speed limits. He said drivers need to be more aware as summer is approaching about kids playing.

Byers also wondered when her grass would be redone. She said they spent a lot of money on their yard on Centennial Street and it got dug up for the water project and hasn’t been fixed yet.

Water Superintendent Gale Gerber was present and he said the contractor moved into town a couple of days ago and hopes to be done with the work in a couple of weeks.

“We are as frustrated as you are,” Jenkins said.

Byers also asked about the boil order at Meadows Mobile Home Park as she lives nearby and has friends there. Gerber explained Meadows is a private entity on their own system so the city water is fine. He also said it was up to Meadows to inform residents of the boil order and if anyone had complaints they could direct them to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Wellfield Park Timeline

After resident Shawn Johnson accused Jenkins and city administration of “dragging its feet” on the Wellfield Park Soccer Complex and claimed other entities got their projects completed but the soccer kids were shortchanged at the last meeting, Jenkins went back and reviewed the timeline and presented that at the meeting.

In Fall of 2015 former Wa-Nee Superintendent Joe Sabo, Former Mayor Larry Thompson (who was present at the meeting), Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Kevin Deary (also present at the meeting), Family Christian Development Center Executive Director Mark Mikel and Phil Jenkins start discussions on capital projects each organization planned to complete individually. They discovered all projects were interrelated and could provide synergy if done together.

In spring of 2016 there was a non-binding letter of intent between the parties to work collectively on projects. Those projects involved a new soccer field at Wellfield Park for Northwood High School and Northwood Soccer Club, a new Boys and Girls Club at Nappanee Elementary School (former NWHS soccer field) a relocated FCDC to the former Central School (former site of the B&G Club), additional downtown parking at former FCDC location on Locke Street and renovated Elder Haus Senior Center. The Wellfield Park had an estimated cost of $3 million.

In fall 2016/Winter 2017 the Community of Wa-Nee Vision 2020 steering committee hired Mark Germano to conduct a community survey to gauge the interest and formula estimated fundraising capacity. The study revealed that the project overall had community support; however there was some concern over the cost of the soccer portion of the project. Based on that study they revised the soccer fundraising goal to $750,000 and the redevelopment commission approved adding $1 million of Tax Increment Financing funds to construct the new field. The city and school would work on an overall plan for adding future amenities as funding allowed.

In the Spring of 2017 the steering committee sought to raise $5,750,000.

“As a result of that study it was decided that we would complete the project but not necessarily as part of Vision 2020,” Jenkins added.

  • Spring 2018 one year from the day the fundraising began, they raised in excess of the goal and began implementing the projects.
  • In April of 2018 construction began on Wellfield Park Soccer Field. In October of 2018 the artificial turf field was substantially complete.
  • In fall of 2019 the NWHS boys and girls soccer play all games on the new field at Wellfield Park.

“IHSAA Boys Soccer even held its sectional tournament at Wellfield,” Jenkins said.

  • In Summer-Fall 2020 the city hired Barton-Coe-Vilemaa to develop construction drawings for locker/restroom/concession building.
  • In January of 2021 an interlocal agreement that set out roles and responsibilities of both parties in relation to the future development and operations at Wellfield Park was drafted between the city and the school.
  • In spring of 2021 the city planned to utilize the Build Operate Transfer model for project construction of locker/restroom/concession and works on financing options with Wa-Nee Schools.
  • August 2, 2021 the council approves the BOT agreement with the developer and work begins in fall of 2021.
  • Sept. 30, 2021 Shawn Johnson met with Phil Jenkins to discuss the status and possible financing options since there were additional funding available through the school. The agreement was amended.
  • Nov. 22, 2021 another amendment to the agreement between the city and Wa Nee Schools was amended when Wa Nee proposed a finance option that allows school to prepare plans, bid project and construct additional bleachers, press box and additional parking in 2022. City of Nappanee agrees to pay half the cost of January 2023.

“The price of the press box was more than anticipated so they combined it with the bleachers and because of supply issues we heard it would be spring,” Jenkins said.

The current status according to the timeline is the locker/restroom/concession building is scheduled to be completed and ready to use end of May, first of June, 2022. Additional bleachers will arrive and be installed in July 2022, additional parking has been awarded to the contractor, scheduled completion prior to the start of the 2022 high school season and addition of press box to new bleachers is scheduled to be added by spring of 2023.

The mayor said the council was aware of the status all through the project.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mayor Jenkins read a proclamation proclaiming May Mental Health Awareness Month in Nappanee and called upon “all citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools in Nappanee to recommit our community to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, the steps our citizens can take to protect their mental health and the need for appropriate and accessible services with all people with mental health conditions.”

Lindsay London, co-chair with Mayor Jenkins on the Mental Health Task Force was there and thanked everyone for the support. She said as a school counselor she, along with Mandy Gerber and Kevin Deary of the Boys and Girls Club are working with kids but all citizens are affected.

“COVID gave a heightened sense of mental health,” Jenkins said. “We’ll continue to fight the fight.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved an additional appropriation ordinance for $42,247 for the parks department for a new truck — the mayor explained after the meeting it’s really a re-appropriation from last year and $717,988.69 for the street department for Community Crossing grant.

• Set a public hearing for the above for May 16 at 7 p.m.

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