By Pam Robinson
With all members present, the New Harmony Town Council voted unanimously Thursday evening, Nov. 15, to rescind a $150,000, 20 percent matching grant and return the money for an additional 1.2 mile trail, honoring veterans, to connect with an existing 2.5 mile trail running along the river. A New Harmony Business Associate had donated almost another $50,000 to cover the match portion. Council members had met in a special session already on Monday to discuss this issue. According to Town Council President David Campbell, the vote to rescind the grant was necessary to stop the trail project; otherwise, council must proceed to lay out the trail.
Some of the reasons cited for the decision included being able to afford maintenance on the trail, the existence of enough trails already, the lack of a scenic view along the trail and the meandering of the trail outside New Harmony town limits. Maintenance on existing trails is funded through golf cart registration fees. During discussion, it was stated also that the trail project was the work of previous council members.
Since current council members agreed to engineering fees of $3,500 for the project, the Town of New Harmony will honor that expense.
During public discussion after the vote, New Harmony resident Don Williams commented, “I’d like to say this isn’t exactly forward thinking in terms of development of our town around where the trail might be. Whichever board signed, I think has a contractual obligation to maintain the trail. And it’s a little like voting down the consolidation of government. I would like to go on record as saying I would really like to see the trail completed around. I personally feel like the maintenance would be somewhat less in the areas that it’s being done, with the exception possibly over close to the river, than it has been in the past. That’s one man’s opinion, and we’re all entitled to have an opinion on it.”
Immediately following Williams’ comments, New Harmony resident and outgoing Parks Board President Jeanne Maudlin spoke. “One woman’s opinion—here it comes. I’m sorry that the council decided to terminate the trail project. I would agree with what Don said. I’m surprised that the maintenance concern is an issue where the trail is going to be. I understand there would be maintenance, but it seems not as much as there is down on the river. The last thing that I want to address is you all have to appoint citizen volunteers to work on these boards, and I think you need to think about the big picture because you had a citizen volunteer who worked for years on this trail and also was the first President of the Parks Board and did Playtopia, a one of a kind thing in the nation. So I’m hoping I’m in the minutes that number one, Mick McConnell, enormous thanks and huge praise – the same to his wife, Barbara – and, golly, I hope you haven’t shot yourself in the foot trying to find interested and educated and community-loving citizens who are willing to give of their time and talents to the promotion of this community.”
At the end of the meeting, council member Karen Walker spoke in an audible, confident voice when she asserted, “I’d just like to say one thing to both Jeanne and Don who spoke on behalf of the trails. One of the things that we wanted to do was make some modifications to the trail, and we were told we could not do that, or we’d have to relinquish the grant. There were some elements of the trail that I could not approve. And I know that we talked to several people. . . . We talked to people for it and against it, and we didn’t take that decision lightly. And I don’t think we shot ourselves in the foot. We have a lot of things to work on and a lot of things to do, and we have a lot of forward thinking going on with this board. So I think we’ve got it all under control.”
In other business:
• Additional vandalism was reported at Murphy Park: a holly tree was run over by a car. Hillside Nursery has agreed to replace the holly tree. Council member Don Gibbs suggested the park close in November for the winter season as it did previously to stop cars from entering and deter additional vandalism.
• The architect selected for designing the bicentennial Harmonist house, along with a USI engineering professor and a USI engineering student involved in the project, presented drawings to council for the building’s external and internal design.
• Council passed changes to salary ordinance 2012-10 as follows: the water and sewer superintendent’s hourly rate shall be no less than $17 and no more than $21.95; the utility laborer’s hourly rate shall be no less than $9 and no more than $13.54; the clerk-treasurer will be paid a salary of $3,039.20 per month; and council members will be compensated $3,600 per year
• Council voted to retain the current health insurance provider.
• New Wave Communications representative Mark Bookout agreed his company would support the town in its wireless endeavors to the extent he is able. He stated that the current wireless network in downtown New Harmony provides free Internet access to townspeople and tourists for two hours per day. He said that it suits the needs of the casual user. He explained that three installed transmitters form a triangle that covers primarily the downtown area on Church and Main. He said that another hotspot might be added for an additional $300-$400, but emphasized service to the Atheneum would be difficult.
• Community leader David Flanders reported that the signage at Illinois 1 and 15 indicate “for local traffic only,” but no “bridge out” sign is posted. Town President David Campbell volunteered to call the Indiana Department of Transportation and ask that department to follow-up with the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding this issue. In addition, it was noted that a second “bridge out” sign is needed in New Harmony to make the detour route clear to truckers.
• Eric Arneberg approached council with the request to register his Polaris electric vehicle (maximum speed of 25 mph) as a golf cart. Council informed him that according to state law, only golf carts may be registered as such.
• Council member Joe Straw reported insurance was replacing the roof destroyed on the fire department.
• Outgoing Parks and Recreation Board President Jeanne Maudlin was thanked for her work during her appointment. She replied, “It’s been my pleasure. Thank you.” Earlier, she had reported that 187 trees were in the ground to fulfill the goal of 200 trees for the bicentennial. She added that as a Tree City, New Harmony stands with $15 per capita for trees.
• Sheriff Greg Oeth was recognized for sending helpers to do work at Playtopia and Murphy Park.
• Bobby Grider reported that limb and leaf removal would continue the next day since broken equipment had been replaced. He said 75-80 percent of this work was complete—except for leaf removal at Murphy Park.
The New Harmony Town Council will meet again in regular session Thursday, December 20, 2012, at 5 p.m. in Town Hall.
By Pam Robinson
- Debbie Koester Reed on Sixth River Days hits a home run
- dee on Hunter Education class announced
- jewels on A visit to the other New Harmony, Utah
- Alicer and Charles Christmas on J. Sue Wassmer
- Mark Lacey on Chief Deputy Buchanan retires from Posey Sheriff’s Department
- November 2013 (21)
- October 2013 (23)
- September 2013 (11)
- August 2013 (10)
- July 2013 (29)
- June 2013 (59)
- May 2013 (60)
- April 2013 (229)
- March 2013 (158)
- February 2013 (193)
- January 2013 (192)
- December 2012 (69)
- November 2012 (143)
- October 2012 (158)
- September 2012 (152)
- August 2012 (151)
- July 2012 (191)
- June 2012 (129)
- May 2012 (71)
Popular TopicsAlexandrian Public Library American Legion APL BBQ CDC Community Center Crafts Club Deaconess Hospital Evansville Gibson Southern Harmonie State Park Historic New Harmony Indiana INDOT Kiwanis Lady Vikings Lady Wildcats Main Street Maple Hill Cemetery Mater Dei Matthew Catholic Church Mount Vernon MSD MVHS New Harmony New York North Elementary North Posey Posey Posey County Posey County News Poseyville Purdue Extension Red Cross Reunion Southern Indiana Tell City United Methodist Church United Way University USI Viking Vikings Wadesville WMI