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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 10/27/14 (Rails to Trails Update, Old Prison Plan Update, CMU Contracts)

Rails to Trails Concept Advances
October 28, 2014

The city of Chillicothe will move forward exploring plans to convert the old abandoned shortline railroad that runs from Chillicothe to Sumner to a trail open to the public. City Administrator Ike Holland, during the regular city council meeting Monday evening at City Hall, asked council members for a consensus to move forward on the project. The council unanimously authorized the administrator to pursue the rails to trails project and look into developing a committee to oversee the project. Holland stated that he has traveled the trail and said that 99 percent of the trail is passable, and that a good portion of it has been maintained by farmers and/or hunters. Areas that would need significant repair, however, would be bridges. Around $10,000 has already been pledged by local community foundations for development of the trail and additional donations would likely be made if the trail project advances. Members of the Green Hills Trail Association were present at Monday night's meeting to voice support of the project and offer assistance. The trail could start off as a primitive trail and span just a portion of the route between Chillicothe and Sumner, and later be lengthened with added improvements, Holland said. Tom Ashbrook, who is a member of the city's railroad advisory board, the Green Hills Trail Association, and community foundations, told council members that a trail would be not only a destination, but would add to the quality of life for people, especially young people, who choose to live in Chillicothe. "We have an asset we need to utilize," he said. Terry Rumery, the city's contracted economic developer, stated the trail would help promote economic development. It was also noted that grant money would likely be available for the project.

Several items were up for discussion and action during Monday's council meeting. Among them was consideration of bids for a police car to replace one that had been wrecked. Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas motioned for discussion to be tabled, and his motion was seconded and approved with a 3-2 vote. Voting to delay discussions were Douglas, 1st Ward Councilman Reed Dupy and 2nd Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham. Councilman-at-Large David Moore voted against tabling discussion, as did 4th Ward Councilman Paul Howard.

Also Monday, Administrator Holland stated that the city had received just one reply to its call for bids on the former correctional center property on the south side of Third Street. No action was taken; however, council members discussed doing work to make the property more appealing for development, including possible building demolition. The city had taken ownership of the vacant women's prison nearly six years ago with plans that a private developer would turn the site into residential and commercial spaces. Those plans were formally dissolved last month after the developer pulled out and the city is asking the public to share ideas or if they know someone who might be interested in the property to contact City Hall. Councilman Howard stated that some people residing near the area had suggested converting the former prison site into a park. Others expressed interest in saving the facility's auditorium. Some discussion also took place regarding the $1 million that was set aside to reimburse a developer's expenses. Cunningham said that some people weren't happy with that offer the first time. Douglas suggested using some of the money that had been set aside to make improvements to the grounds. "A lot of people in that neighborhood don't like the way it looks, and I don't blame them," Douglas said.

In other business Monday evening, council members approved the consent agenda regarding Chillicothe Municipal Utilities' invoices and salaries as well as its health insurance renewal. The council also passed an ordinance regarding utility contracts.

Leslie Patek, with the Livingston County Humane Society, was on the agenda to discuss restrictions regarding monkeys and wild animals within the city limits; however, that item removed from the agenda and postponed until the council's next meeting.

In other business, the council approved the next carving for Simpson Park to be that of a lion. The carving will be paid for by a private citizen.

The council also accepted job descriptions for city positions.

The evening concluded with an executive session. No action was taken, according to City Clerk Roze Frampton.

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