Things are rolling down the track. With the second meeting of Land & Traffic since 2007 under our wheels, you may be asking “What the heck was this meeting about, anyway?”
I can fully understand why they chose this to be a venue without public input, as it was obvious they hadn’t a clue on the issue before them or what they were supposed to be doing. So, I am going to recap as best as possible on what happened.
The full committee was there, Mary Jo Barton, Jerry Dishman, Julius Anderson, Alison Quirk and Mark Conatser.
The committee’s goal was to discuss the ordinance 17-11 which is to close the tracks permantly on 9th & 10th Streets. It wasn’t about the quiet zone. Julius Anderson was the facilitator of the meeting.
Mary Jo Barton began the meeting by saying the neighbors don’t want it closed. She said she found paperwork on when it first started. She believes it began with David Dominick wanting more parking for the convention center. Mary Jo Barton said the plan was quickly shut down by the council.
I was trying to picture the convention center and the proximity of 9th and 10th streets. There must be a link to connect the two…somewhere.
When asked what year this took place, she shuffled through some papers and said she didn’t know. Why she didn’t have the articles or a synopsis available is strange. Mary Jo Barton said the railroad can’t close down the tracks.
Conster said he believed the railroad could, and I tend to agree with him. He had spoken to someone at Norfolk Southern a few years ago when he tried to address the trains stopping on the tracks in his neighborhood.
Mary Jo Barton said it was up to the city and not the railroad to close the crossings.
A link to Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook – Revised Second Edition August 2007 outlines the procedures for railroad crossings. I want to be upfront, I don’t know if this is current, but it is a read, nevertheless, on the questions of who is responsible for closing the crossings.
Alison Quirk said this is an ordinance to vacate a public street. (Something the city council has done several times.) She said the purpose of the meeting was to determine who to invite to the public meeting in September. Mary Jo Barton reiterated it was to vacate/permanetly close the streets.
Allison Quirk stated the purpose of the meeting was to put our (committee) concerns in writing. She had no opinion, just wants to make an informed decision. Then she began to list the questions/statements. Not sure if I got them all, but here is what I believe she asked.
1. Why two crossing next to each other?
2. Who is responsible for maintenance?
3. Who determined 9th & 10th Streets closed?
4. There is an agreement and wants to know who has a copy of it?
5. She wants input from Police, Fire, and EMS.
6. What is the signage if the streets are closed?
7. What is the community impact?
8. What will the closing look like? (Drawings/rendering of the closings.)
9. Impact on businesses.
10. Who assumes liability?
Now, we are getting to the crux of the matter. She heard the railroad would compensate the city. What is the amount of money, how could it be used and would the money be appropriated by city council. (I thought they appropriated the money now.) What is the estimated cost for ongoing maintenance?
Mary Jo Barton said she believed it would be $4,000-$10,000 per year. I am just going to have to take her word for it, and that makes me uneasy. (Stole that line, but it is fitting in this case.)
Jerry Dishman asked some questions. More like a recap of Quirk’s list.
Conaster had no questions.
Jerry Dishman said the sound of the engine was as loud as the horn. (Huh?) Financial was his biggest concern. (Sure it is Jerry, which is why they paid $35,000 for a fiscal study on the consolidation plan after having it for nearly a year.)
Mary Jo Barton said she didn’t understand the vacate verbiage. 16 years on the council and she still doesn’t understand the word vacate.
Dishman thought the railroad would do the maintenance and the city would reimburse.
Quirk said she thought the railroad should be at the next meeting.
Anderson asked what are the codes? Need to talk with the department of transportation.
Barton forgets her question.
Quirk has pictures of the crossings.
Anderson will work with clerk on getting people notified.
The crossings have been closed for several years, the land & traffic committee hasn’t meet since 2007 and suddenly we have this concern for the public. Nearly four years to consider the impact and nary a word said. It’s an election year.
Don’t be fooled as Alison Quirk said at the 2007 candidate forum when asked if she had to cut the budget she would look at public safety, meet with department heads and work with the mayor. None of which she has done.
Sorry if this is a little jumbled, it’s the best I could do with what little I had to work with. The spell check stopped working so I had to eyeball it. We depend on technology for everything!
Have a great evening, folks. Sleep tight and know our city is in good hands….(not).