land and traffic committee
You may remember the first meeting was canceled because the committee forgot to post a public notice. The second meeting allowed no public input as the Land & Traffic committee’s goal was to get their questions in order and prepare a guest list for the next meeting. Last night was the third meeting.
Forgive me if I seem just a little testy, a little short-tempered and little angry. How stupid is it folks, to not invite the railroad to a public meeting on….the railroad? I am trying to figure out what is going through the minds of the Land and Traffic committee. Obviously, not much.
If you had attended what could only be called an “organizational meeting”, you would have noticed the chairperson, Mr. Julius Anderson, had taken on the responsibility of contacting various representatives which would offer valuable input into the closings of these railroad crossings. The list was short, but concise. The guest list included, Board of Public Works, Police, Fire, EMS and Norfolk-Southern Railroad
You may have noticed at the second meeting of Land & Traffic most of the questions and the conversation centered around Norfolk Railroad. Chairperson Anderson, Jerry Dishman, Alison Quirk, Mary Jo Barton and Mark Conatser all came to the consensus the railroad was the important factor.
At last night’s meeting, Julius Anderson announced he didn’t want to invite the railroad, so he didn’t. I don’t know about anybody else, but I find it truly amazing he decided to not invite the representative from Norfolk Southern Railroad.
“I know the railroad wouldn’t have acted on their own,” said Anderson, adding that someone in the administration must have signed off on the closings.
So, how does he KNOW this?
At the July common council meeting, with a representative from Norfolk in our midst, Mr. Anderson asked no questions of substance. He had done no homework. In fact, he and the others didn’t even show any interest at the prospect of our city gaining $4 million dollars. In fact, does any of the city council know we received $1.1 million for railroad improvements? Probably not.
Jerry Dishman asked if there was any documentation. Like documentation would really matter. They don’t read anything. What is so hard about taking the initiative to do some research on this issue, or any issue concerning the city?
- First meeting canceled – no notice
- Second meeting – disorganized
- Third meeting – no RR representative
So, either this was a planned political stunt, which would make their Democrats pledge to run a clean campaign 9-9-11 null and void. Or it was sloppy and lazy governing, which would make them poor representatives of our city. Or we may have heard how closing these crossings could benefit our city, and that would never do.
Regardless if it is one or all three, this is bad for Muncie City and bad news for her citizens.
All this, and we don’t even have an ordinance on the table.
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).
The first meeting of the Land & Traffic committee since 2007 circa met at Muncie City Hall Auditorium Wednesday. The meeting got off to a slow start and some of the candidates/committee members/council members mingled with the crowd.
Mary Jo Barton, council representative for District 3 spoke with a couple and said “I have lots of questions to ask.” One wonders who wrote the questions for her and would she understand the answers once given? After 16 years on city council, current land & traffic committee person and past member of the finance committee, she was clueless on understanding incoming revenue and outgoing expenditures. She also believed the city should spend $30,000.00 for fireworks to make $2,000.00. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a loss of ($28,000.00)?
Julius Anderson appointed council person for District 6 (he took Council Murphy’s place after the voter fraud guilty verdict) stopped by and told the citizens there would be no public input allowed.
Giving volume to your voice.
Alison Quirk, eight year veteran of city council and past president, looked uncomfortable as she took her place on the stage, and Jerry Dishman looked solemn. He is asking for four more years.
Sitting in the audience was ex-councilman and former Democrat Party Chair Phil Nichols. I don’t recall seeing him at any public meetings except for election board. Probably wanted to make sure his candidates and council members adhered to his instructions for this meeting. Just surmising, perhaps this is why Alison Quirk was nervous. What she does could impact her brother-in-law Mike Quirk’s continued reign as Democrat Party Chair.
Mayor Sharon McShurley along with some faces which looked familiar, but their names escape me, were there. You knew she would be.
The tone, a little tense as there seemed to be some pre-meeting conversations, it was already 6:10 PM the meeting hadn’t even started. Mayor McShurley was talking with Council person Anderson and then she stepped back. Puzzled looks, a bit of confusion and Mr. Anderson began to apologize.
The meeting had to be postponed due to the fact there was no notice posted on the door. It was a waste of time for the citizens of which there seemed to be plenty.
The committee consisted of four Democrats which immediately gives one the sense of a confidence this will be a non-partisan group working for our city. (O.K. that’s not true if you have followed their votes and actions for the past four years.)
Seriously folks, with 29 years of combined experience and they forgot the notice, makes one nervous to think of what is going to come from this committee.
The next meeting will be Monday August 29th at 6:00 PM. Muncie City Hall auditorium 300 n. High St. There will be no giving volume to your voice at this meeting, public input is not allowed. NOTE: Paper said it is 7:00 PM not 6:00 PM as the previous article states. Sorry. Meeting tonight on closings of crossings
September 14th will be another meeting at 7:00 PM and you will be given the opportunity to speak.
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