Jeff council wants input on closing RR crossing on Wilson

The Jefferson city council set its next meeting, March 28, as a time to hear comments from the public about  closing the Union Pacific railroad crossing at N. Wilson. The meeting will start at 5:30 pm on the second floor of the municipal building at 220 N. Chestnut St.

The city council is working toward establishing a railroad quiet zone through Jefferson. The cost of installing at every crossing the  supplemental safety measures needed so train engineers are not required to sound horns is prohibitive.

The council’s streets committee discussed a proposal last month to close the Wilson crossing. The May 2016 traffic count showed an average of 505  crossings per day, Monday through Friday. That is 5 percent of the crossings in town. Only the Maple St crossing is used less.

Cost of closing a crossing is about $14,000. The city would receive $23,000 in incentives from Union Pacific and the state for doing it. The additional money could be set aside for supplemental safety measures at the Grimmell Road or Cedar St crossing.

In other business, the city council approved the FY2017-18 budget after a public hearing at which no one spoke. The budget decreases the property tax levy 7 cents to $12.83 (per thousand dollars of taxable valuation).

The council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance to add a $1 monthly charge to residential water bills to cover costs at the city yard waste site. May will be the first month the charge is added to bills.

The council discussed a future drainage project in the area near Wild Rose Casino and to the south. Bolton & Menk proposed a project with a total cost of $5 million. Tom Timmons of Wild Rose Casino and Kim Rueter, who owns adjacent property, requested preliminary plans from McClure Engineering as a “second opinion.” The projects are not identical and city officials have not seen details of the McClure plan. No decision was made on either project.

The council also discussed the proposed Community 360 plan and whether the city should participate financially. Greene County Development Corporation has already decided to move ahead with the $98,000 plan, with or without financial support from the city or the county. In discussion, council members Dave Sloan and Gary Von Ahsen both spoke in favor of the plan, while council member Dan Benitz expressed some reservations.

No decision was made as it was not an agenda item. The city’s financial role in the project, which was suggested to be $24,000, will be on the March 28 agenda.

Adrienne Smith addressed the council during the open forum to ask what has been done regarding the animal shelter. She reminded council members that in late January they said they would tour the shelter and determine what improvements are needed. She also asked the council if they have thought about what would happen if the state inspector closed the shelter and all the PAWS volunteers quit.

City administrator Mike Palmer told Smith that scheduling a meeting/tour is on his to-do list.


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