Opposing views voiced about abandoning part of Liberty St.
Frank Subasic and Attorney Bill Harmison, representing St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, appeared before the Bath Town Council on February 5 to discuss the town abandoning the unpaved area of Liberty Street next to the church.
At the January 16 council meeting, Harmison had presented a draft ordinance which, if passed, permits the town to abandon 3,781 sq. ft. of Liberty Street. This is the grassy slope between the end of the paved portion of Liberty Street and Mercer Street.
If the ordinance is approved by council, the land could be ceded to the adjacent property owners — St. Vincent de Paul and CNB. The bank has told Harmison that they have no interest in the land.
Subasic said the church has no specific plans for the land. The church has been maintaining the unpaved green space at the east end of Liberty Street at no cost to the town for the past 15 years, he said.
Subasic said the church has lost green space due to the construction of a new addition. Abandoning the property to the church would relieve the town of any liability, he said.
Harmison cited a number of examples of the town abandoning other unpaved streets. "Time and time and time again, the town has abandoned streets for the benefit of private concerns," he said.
Harmison noted that only the adjacent land owners had legal standing to object to the abandonment.
Mayor Susan Webster pointed out that though it was legally true that only an adjacent property owner could object and kill the issue, it was up to the council to make a decision.
Pratt Street resident Dean Maxwell told council that he represented a group of citizens who live on the hill above Liberty Street. Many people use the undeveloped part of Liberty Street as a pathway to the park and the main thoroughfare in town. He and his neighbors are concerned about losing the steps leading down from Mercer Street.
Maxwell said since there is no intended use of the land, it is more appropriate for the church to bring their petition before council after they have decided what they will do with the land.
He also raised the issue of what the town would do in the future when asked to abandon unused portions of streets. "No inventory has been done, no valuation set," Maxwell said.
"I and other citizens do not support this action and beg the council's further investigation and discourse in the community." Maxwell wrote in a note presented to council.
"Philosophically, I am opposed to giving up any town property," Councilman David Crosby said.
A second reading of the ordinance by council and a public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Water Works manager Kevin Hancock reported that three water main leaks were caused last week by three different contractors working in town. One break caused the shutdown of U.S. 522 for an hour.
Four water meters in town were frozen up due to extreme cold temperatures. Meters
experiencing the problem
were the old ones, not new meters being installed as part of the water line replacement project.
Hancock also reported the two pumps that failed over the holidays have been repaired and placed back in service.
The council approved the next payments of $313,586 to CowgirlUp and $13,085 to Thrasher Engineering for work completed last month on the water line replacement project.
The mayor and council
have received a letter from Jackson Bain of the Coolfont Mountainside Association.
The letter asks permission
to allow Skyweb, Inc. to place
a high speed wireless internet antenna on the railing on top of the water tank on Warm Springs Ridge, south of town.
The antenna and associated equipment would bring internet service to the Coolfont Mountainside homes. In return, Skyweb would provide free wireless tank status monitoring to the water department.
Hancock said they already have electronic monitoring of the tank. Council felt the town needed more of an incentive before considering the request.
Town Recorder Garnet Marsh said the committee is looking into more efficient routes for garbage pickup. The study will decide if it is possible to schedule an additional day for pickup.
Council member Nancy Harvey said the last 50 historical surveys have been completed. The data will be stored in the archives of the state Historic Preservation Office. The Landmark Group is looking into several ideas for the data collected, including the possible publication of a book.
Town Recorder Marsh reported that the paperwork has been submitted for the additional $500,000 grant for the Streetscape project.
Mayor Webster has asked Thomas Potts, the architect for the new courthouse, to sit in on Streetscape planning meetings.