Hillsboro council authorizes B Street repairs near arts center

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil passed a resolution at its Oct. 3 meeting authorizing the repair or replacement of East B Street now that the Tabor College fine arts center exterior structure is nearly complete.

City Administrator Larry Paine reported the initial construction damage to the street occurred when the city relocated the sewer line from going down the alley right of way between Lincoln and Jeffer­son to the alley right of way between Jefferson and Madison streets.

“We felt it was best if the reconstruction of B Street was done after the major construction traffic ended,” Paine said. “With the dedication of the new facility scheduled for early Decem­ber, it is important for us to begin the replacement of the street.”

To fund the project, the resolution proposed an “internal borrowing” approach, where the city would temporarily transfer $100,000 from each of the city’s four utility funds—water, electric, sewer and sanitation—and “loan” it to the city’s general fund.

“It is my expectation that financing will be completed in January or Febru­ary 2018,” Paine said. “Once the bonds are issued, one of the first transactions will be to transfer $400,000 to the general fund from the bond proceeds. Once the transaction is completed, we will then transfer $100,000 back to each of the (four) utility accounts.”

The council approved Resolution 2017-09 by a 4-0 vote.

Parking requirements

On a related issue, Tabor College President Jules Glanzer attended the meeting regarding the number of parking stalls required for the fine arts facility.

Glanzer said with Tabor’s acquisition of the former MB Foundation building at 315 S. Lincoln, plus the addition of off-street diagonal parking “would be exchanged for the parking we purchased with MB Foundation, and they’re all in the 500-feet zone requirements,” he said.

Glanzer said the college plans to do landscaping between the “street and/or sidewalk.”

“When people come into town, they make a left (turn) at Adams, a left at B, they make a left at Lincoln and they’ve driven around the campus,” he said. “So we’d like to have something nice there along the street where they drive.”

Glanzer said additional parking-lot expansion is in the plans.

“The (city’s) zoning commission gave us a three-year variance of a delay on our parking lot that would be north of the science building and go all the way between Jefferson and Madison,” he said.

Glanzer said after the fine arts center is completed, the college plans to raze the Mary J. Regier Building, the oldest building on campus and situated immediately east of the new fine arts center.

“The funeral for it is schedule for homecoming 2018, and then after that the whole space can be developed,” he said.

Public hearing

The council meeting began with a public hearing regarding the fire-damaged house at 311 Eisen­hower.

The fire occurred Feb. 16. On July 20 Ben Steketee, the city’s code enforcement officer, inspected the property and found “the dwelling to be blighting and uninhabitable,” with issues ranging from lacking a code-approved egress window, to black mold growing in the interior of the house, to buckled sub-flooring.

“Since July 20, I have not been invited back for any inspection, but I drive by multiple times a week, and have seen no evident of improvements,” Steketee stated in a Sept. 28 document.

City Attorney Josh Boehm said the sole purpose of the hearing was for the council to determine whether the structure was “dangerous and unsafe” or “habitable and safe,” based on evidential support.

Steketee circulated several photos of the damaged areas.

Homeowner Warren Deckert, who attended the hearing, said, “I didn’t recall ever having a conversation with you about the house being in that state.”

Deckert mentioned several improvements he has been making on the house, including a new roof.

“Right now, we’re in the process of choosing windows and replacing all the trim,” Deckert said.

“I didn’t know that I was under such scrutiny like this,” he added. “All I got was this letter from the city attorney that came the first of August.”

Deckert said he has been making improvements as he has time, but he works a full-time job and wasn’t aware he needed to schedule a contractor to move the restoration along.

Boehm said the council has a third option: recessing the public hearing to allow additional work, but setting a date and time when the hearing would resume.

The council initially considered a recess of 30 or 60 days. but agreed unanimously to recess the hearing for 90 days, calling for resumption at 4 p.m. Jan. 2. Steketee was asked to inspect the project occasionally to evaluate progress.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• approved a revised agreement with EBH & Associates for an engineering fee of $738,200 for the city’s water-pipe replacement project. The original agreement was for a fee of $508,600.

“The difference is a little more than the engineering total for the (automatic meter reading) part of the agreement,” Paine said.

The $4.3 million project will be bond financed.

• approved the mayor’s appointment of Staci Silhan to the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau board.

• at its Sept. 20 meeting, approved the following appointments to a planning group working to develop a splash pad in town: Staci Silhan, David Vogel, Sonja Hefley, Jenny Rector, Staci Janzen and Melanie Thies­sen.

• called for a 20-minute executive session, to include representatives of Salem Home. When the public session resumed, no action was taken.