Council Nixes Sidewalk Repair

RIDGEWAY (May 20, 2016) – Town Council reversed course last week on a February vote to fund the repair of a little more than 200 feet of sidewalk near the Post Office on S. Palmer Street, turning down a $5,900 bid from Dwight Robertson.

Robertson’s offer was the lower of two bids, the second coming in at $8,200 from M C Rowe Construction.

During their Feb. 11 meeting, Council voted unanimously to cash in one of their Certificates of Deposit (CDs) to fund the project, which at that time was estimated at $5,000. When the cost to meet Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements sent the estimate over the $5,000 threshold for no-bid jobs, Council was required to seek additional bids on the project.

At Council’s May 12 meeting, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said he had received negative feedback from citizens who were concerned about the Town spending money on a state-owned sidewalk. The state, Mayor Charlene Herring said, has obligated DOT funding for the repair of bridges and roads, with no money available for sidewalks.

Meanwhile, Council is facing another large expenditure with its Police Department. Officer Christopher Culp told Council on May 12 that the car radios as well as a pair of hand-held radios will stop working at the end of the year when the state completes its changeover to a digital system. The total estimated cost to replace the radios is around $5,000.

During the sidewalk debate, Councilman Doug Porter said repairing the sidewalk was a safety issue. Councilman Donald Prioleau, however, said that it was “more important from a safety standpoint for the Police Department to have the proper equipment.”

The money to replace the radios, Prioleau said, could also be pulled from CDs.

Sidewalk repair failed on a 2-3 vote, with Herring and Porter voting in favor and Cookendorfer, Prioleau and Angela Harrison voting against.

High Grass and Fire Hazards

Council also passed first reading on an ordinance to keep weeds and grass less than 1-foot high in lawns inside the town limits. Residents found in violation would receive a 14-day notice, after which time the Town would mow the lawn and bill the resident.

Prioleau said that 1 foot might be too tall and suggested leaving the definition vague at simply “high grass.” But Herring noted that the ordinance should have measurable definitions to be enforceable.

Council gave first reading to an amendment to its fire hazards ordinance, upgrading the fines for the accumulation on property of debris and other material deemed by the Fire or Police chief to be a fire hazard. The existing ordinance carries a penalty of $50 or 30 days in jail. The amendment contains a $50 fine for first offense and a $100 fine or 30 days in jail for second offense.