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Merrillville looks into using bonds to pay for road repair

Updated: May 15, 2013 6:17AM



MERRILLVILLE — Deteriorating roads, possible expansion of the 101st Avenue bridge, a second round of leaf collection and the Stormwater Resource Center were among topics discussed during this week’s Town Council meeting.

Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-4th, said he will meet with the town’s financial consultant, James Bennett, to see how much money the town can bond for, if it can even bond at all, to repave some of its worst roads.

He suggested council members do an inventory of the most deteriorated streets in their districts and all those streets be prioritized according to importance.

“It’s something we’ve never really done before. We need to have a master plan on paving,” Gorlczyk said.

Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said they would ask the town engineer what it would cost to do an inventory. He said every council member has a wish list of roads that need to be paved, some costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Public Works director Bruce Spires pointed out, however, that any master plan could be outdated in five years, as new “worst cases” will have popped up by then.

During a Redevelopment Commission meeting, council members agreed to enter into a contract with engineering firm Butler, Seufert & Fairman to get concrete cost figures to widen the 101st Avenue bridge.

Pettit has said the bridge will need to be widened due to increased truck traffic that will come when Dawn Foods completes construction on its new building in the Ameriplex at the Crossroads off 101st.

He said the town may be able to refinance a bond to pay for the work.

Pettit also questioned what authority the council has over the Stormwater Management Board, referencing the board’s decision to construct a new educational center/office building on Broadway.

“I know they did a bond issue and acquired property. But we have a lot of vacant buildings in town. Could they occupy ones of those and could we reauthorize the bond issue,” Pettit asked.

Council President Carol Miano said that money could be put back into flooding concerns.

Town Attorney John Bushemi said he would need to research the issue.

Goralczyk said the proposed storm water building has been scaled back significantly, however.

“It looks like a public works building in front and a garage in the back,” he said.

Spires said any building would need to be high enough to store equipment, adding that he likes the site chosen because it’s next to the Public Works garage.

Spires said Public Works will make a second pass through town to collect leaves left at the curbside beginning on the north end of town in two weeks. He said the second pass is being done because the town newsletter didn’t get out until a couple days before the cleanup started, leaving people little time to get their leaves to the curb.

The council also purchased two dump trucks from low bidder Truck City of Gary for a total of $327,108 and new software from Bitco at a cost of $42,500, which Miano said was a significant savings from the original price of $100,000.



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