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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 10/13/14 (Street Crossings; Speed Limits; Healing Garden; Utility Contracts)

City to Request Changes to Washington Street
Slower speed near park, longer crosswalk time sought
October 14, 2014

The city of Chillicothe plans to ask MoDOT to consider two changes along Washington Street in an effort to enhance safety for motorists and pedestrians. The requests were discussed during the regular City Council meeting Monday evening at City Hall.

The first request was to extend the time pedestrians are given to cross Washington Street. "Crossing Washington Street from east to west, or vice versa, you really have to hustle to get across there," said Micah Landes, director of Main Street Chillicothe. She said that it takes four seconds before the crosswalk signal starts flashing the hand and that there are 14 seconds total before the traffic light turns yellow. "I would request 20 seconds," Landes said. "That seems like a good enough time to get across the street safely." Although she had not timed all of the downtown crosswalks, she said that at least three allow just 14 seconds. Crossing north to south, pedestrians have 38 seconds to cross, she added. City Administrator Ike Holland stated that changing the crosswalk times would be a Missouri Department of Transportation decision and that whatever request is made, MoDOT would like to have a consensus from the council that this is what the city wants to do. He said that the local engineer "had indicated that you don't want some lights too long because that encourages people to run yellow lights because they know they will have to sit at the light for a long time." The council gave support to have MoDOT explore options of extending the crosswalk time. "I would request 20 seconds, but if they come back and say two seconds, I would take it," Landes said.

Another traffic-related request will also be made by the city. This one involves the speed limit in the southbound lanes near Simpson Park. The issue was brought to the administrator's attention by Josh Norris, director of parks and recreation. "People, as they approach that traffic signal and entrance to Simpson Park, are traveling at a rate of 45 miles per hour and generally continue all the way up to the light, even though at that point they should be driving 35 miles per hour," Holland stated. "If they are driving 45 and the light turns to green, they automatically accelerate and they continue at a rate of 45 miles per hour until maybe they get past the armory. His concern is with Simpson Park and the entrance there." Norris had asked about moving the 35 mph sign north to slow down motorists before they get close to the traffic light. It was noted that in 2000, around the time additional lanes were added to that part of Highway 65, the 35 mph sign had been moved from Dale Drive to its current location. Council members requested to have MoDOT consider moving the sign.

In other discussions Monday evening, the council approved a measure authorizing real estate improvements to establish a healing garden at the new Hedrick Medical Center. Matt Wenzel and Lindy Chapman were present at the meeting to discuss progress for establishing the garden and talked about previous town hall meetings that were held to discuss the garden.

Council members, a few people from the public, and others discussed reports of concerns regarding parking at the corners of Fairway and Country Club. First Ward Councilman Reed Dupy asked to have discussion on the council agenda, stating that several people had raised safety concerns about vehicles parking along the road. No action was taken.

In other business Monday, the council approved the declaration of a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria as surplus property.

Josh Norris gave a presentation about the parks department's activities of the last year; and Barry Arthur gave a presentation about the street department's activities of the last year.

Also Monday, it was announced that the city had made its final payment to pay off the debt of the bowling alley.

Mayor Chuck Haney presided over Monday night's meeting with the full council present. An executive session followed the regular meeting, with no votes taken.

Council and Board of Public Works Discuss Utility Contracts
CT 10/14/14

The council and the Board of Public Works reached a tentative agreement regarding procedures for approving contracts that is favorable to both entities and would be in line with state statutes. The Board of Public Works in the past has approved contracts of all sizes. However, it was brought to the city's attention that the City Council should have the authority to approve all city contracts. The contracts could be for anything, such as buying equipment or installing a well.

The city recently sought an opinion from an outside attorney to address the issue and retained the services of Howard C. Wright, Jr., of CECB of Springfield, Missouri. Wright's opinion was that the council does have authority to approve all contracts and that the city can delegate that authority. Robert Cowherd, Chillicothe's contracted legal counsel, stated that he agreed with Wright's opinion. Chillicothe Municipal Utilities General Manager Jim Gillilan, and others on the board as well as city representatives who were present agreed that both entities work well together.

Although a draft ordinance will be presented for consideration of approval at a later date, the council and Board of Public Works generally agreed that the board would be authorized to approve any contract that is less than $50,000 and does not have a term that exceeds one year provided the goods or services have been procured through the applicable procurement code of the city. Contracts between $50,000 and $100,000 must have approval from the Board of Public Works as well as the mayor. Contracts exceeding $100,000 must be approved not only by the Board of Public Works but by the council as well. Both groups discussed how to handle contracts that extend beyond one year.

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