SIDNEY — Beautification plans for the landscaping of Sidney’s Interstate 75/state Route 47 entrance and exit ramps were presented to Sidney City Council at Monday’s workshop meeting.
Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier reminded council a steering committee, including himself, Mayor Mike Barhorst, Council member Ed Hamaker and Sidney-Shelby County Chamber President Jeff Raible, was formed to review the current landscape condition at the interchange. The committee then gave guidance to Freytag & Associates Inc. Architects Engineers on what they desired the main exit into Sidney to look like after restoration.
John Freytag, of Freytag & Associates Inc. Architects Engineers, provided a presentation on two options for the landscaping gateway interchange. The presentation showed pictures and maps of current landscaping condition, the design concepts discussed with the steering committee and pictures and maps, as well as cost estimates, of the proposed plans. The firm worked with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the plans prior to the presentation.
The first proposal, which included various trees and shrubs, a lengthy limestone wall, along with a shorter limestone wall with “Sidney” on it, was estimated at $527,000. This estimate accounts for a three year inflation over the time it may take to complete the project. He said included a limestone wall to “show off the local limestone.”
Freytag admitted when looking at the figure, “Holy Cow, that’s a lot of money.”
He acknowledged the city is dealing with a lot amid the pandemic right now and decided to create an alternative proposal that is very similar but “simplified.”
The second proposal, estimated at $390,000, includes many of the same items, but is a “compact version.” Proposal two includes a three year inflation.
After a brief discussion, Barhorst said he liked proposal one better than the second. He noted if they chose No. 2, it may not look like much is there because it is a smaller improvement. Also, if they chose two, it is half the project, but not half the cost, so they wouldn’t want to redo it. He asked Freytag if they did chose No. 2, could add on to it in two or three years.
Freytag affirmed they could and would be easy to do. He said they would just need to extend the wall, which will give the area a much more dramatic feel. Also they would be sure when putting in the concrete surround, that holds in the plants and prevents erosion, in a way to allow for future additions. Freytag said he also looked at concrete for the wall because it is the most cost effective with less maintenance. Brick was previously considered, but he pulled away from it because of its tendency to fail in the long term.
When asked about funding, other than the possibility of private donations given, City Manager Mark Cundiff noted the city has $100,00 budgeted for the project, and they will continue to seek grant funds. Barhorst asked council members to think on the presentation for a couple of weeks and then they will revisit it.
In other business, Police Chief Will Balling provided new information learned which could impact the city’s decision about creating a city impound lot, which City Council has been considering over the last year. Balling informed council members the city was advised by the state of Ohio its method of processing towed vehicles and obtaining titles for tow companies was illegal and should be changed.
He reminded members discussions were held on the pros and cons of operating a city-run impound lot. He said Capt. Bill Shoemaker was directed to proceed with an option to formalize the fees and towing program with council reserving the right to revisit the idea of a city-run impound lot if the formalization was not satisfactory.
He told council as Shoemaker moved forward on the project, he learned Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, introduced House Bill 345 on Sept. 23, 2019, which was later referred to a committee on Oct. 2, 2019. This bill will make it easier for local towing companies to process towed vehicles and will be able to follow state law when titles are transferred, Balling said.
Due to the pending bill, Balling recommend council not take any action on a city impound lot at this time. The consensus of council was in agreement with the recommendation.