By Sterling McGinn
The Village of Newberry will soon be advertising to hire a full-time working DPW (Department of Public Works) superintendent and has adopted an ordinance allowing downtown restaurants to operate sidewalk cafes.
The two matters were discussed at the April meeting of the Newberry Village Council, which took place on Monday, April 17.
The regular meeting date was changed from Tuesday evening to Monday evening to accommodate two required public hearings that night.
The village has not staffed a full-time DPW superintendent in approximately 15 years. “For whatever reason, the council did not continue with a full-time DPW superintendent and should have,” stated Village Manager Allison Watkins. “The DPW department had slowly over the years been underfunded and under supervised.”
Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent George Blakely has been serving as the DPW superintendent, but does not wish to continue, Watkins said.
“Part of it is he doesn’t have enough time and the other part is he doesn’t have the experience as a heavy equipment operator or with plowing roads,” she said.
Staffing a DPW superintendent would cost the village an additional $90,000, and is allotted for in the budget.
“I think this will really help in the wintertime with plowing,” said trustee Dennis Hendrickson.
The board voted to advertising for the position with Trustee Kip Cameron voting “no”.
Also approved that evening was the unanimous approval of Ordinance 56, which allows and regulates sidewalk cafes downtown.
The ordinance expands on a resolution approved last year, which allowed Rob and Angie Doughty from Timber Charlie’s to pilot the program.
“We want to encourage this type of business downtown to bring folks in and help businesses expand their ability to provide services to customers,” Watkins said.
Last summer, Timber Charlie’s offered outdoor dining along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. A retractable fence was also installed to allow the service of alcohol outside.
“It is not something where someone can say they are going to start serving food on the sidewalk—they have to be a business already providing a full menu,” explained Watkins. “Timber Charlie’s is a perfect example of that.”
The ordinance committee is also considering an ordinance which would govern sidewalk sales for businesses downtown.
In other news, the public hearings held that evening revolved around Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the (CWSRF) Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater system improvements for the village.
The CWSRF is a low interest loan financing program through EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy).
The original project plan for Phase 1, which includes the proposed sewer relining, was approved last year, however, the scope of the projects had changed.
“The village is approving the changes to the scope—we lost some of the lining we wanted to do,” Watkins said.
Phase 1 will rehab existing sanitary sewer lines within the Village limit, to restore the structural integrity and reduce backups and maintenance issues.
Relining sewer lines is an alternative to laying new lines and is estimated to extend the life of the sewer system to 30 to 75 years.
An additional 550 feet of sewer lining will take place on the easement east of Washington Boulevard and West John Street, located near the hospital. Intruding sewer laterals will be removed.
The second public hearing revolved around Phase 2, which include an amendment to replace 5,000 feet of sewer lines and the removal of over 700 intruding sewer laterals throughout the Village limits. Eventual improvements to the wastewater treatment plant are also included.
In the regular council meeting, the board voted to adopt the amendments to the CWSRF project plans.
Watkins also updated the board on the ongoing downtown tree survey.
The online survey, which was launched earlier this month, has received 14 responses.
The printed survey will be mailed out with the April utility billings.