Town OKs bonds for parks projects

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PENDLETON — Plans for upgrades to Falls Park, including a redesigned playground area, took a step forward with the town council’s approval of bonds to finance the work.
The council voted 4-0 on Thursday, March 10, to approve bonds, on behalf of Pendleton-Fall Creek Township Park and recreation District, not to exceed $3,450,000, with about $2.1 million of the borrowing for the improvements and potential land acquisition.
The bond amount includes more than $1 million of debt dating to 2013 that will be refinanced at a lower interest rate, if doing so will save money when the financing is lined up, as well as other overall financing costs, including fees and interest.
The playground plan includes play areas for certain age groups/ability levels, such as ages 2-5/lower ability and ages 5-12/upper ability. It also includes picnic and storytime areas, as well as a range of equipment, including slides and climbing structures.
Park Superintendent Aaron Burris said the cost for the playground project is estimated at $1.77 million “on the high end.”
The possible land acquisition includes almost four acres of property contiguous to park property, but not near the playground area, Burris said later. He declined to identify the precise location of the land at this time.
Town consultants said the bond debt is being structured in such a way as to keep annual payments and the tax rate at approximately current levels through a 14-year payoff period.
Two members of the public spoke during the March 10 meeting. One spoke in favor of passing the bonds in support of the park as draw to the town as a “destination spot.” The other person expressed hopes that the new playground area will be made more accessible for people with disabilities than the current one.
Burris responded affirmatively. “That was one of the big pieces we looked at when redoing this, was creating that accessibility.”
In other news, the town council also voted 4-0 (President Chet Babb was absent) to:
Lease Ingalls Fire Station for $10 per year. Pendleton Fire Department is under contract to provide fire protection to Ingalls and uses the station there for a variety of purposes, including housing equipment and apparatuses.
Spend $24,000 for 20% of the design costs to redirect a planned trail along the west side of State Road 67. Heading north from State Street, the trail will shift to the northwest (toward Hayden Way) at the U.S. 36 intersection, and head up to Water Street, instead of continuing northward along State Road 67. Town manager Scott Reske said the move would improve safety.
Appoint the town’s interim planning director, Hannahrose Urbanski, as planning director. Urbanski stepped up to serve in the position after Kayla Hassett resigned last year. “So, Hannah is at the right place at the right time, plus she has all the skills,” Reske said. “Hannah has a bachelor’s degree in planning and also a master’s degree. Also, I think she has the personality for this job. She has very good leadership skills and works very well with the developers that come in and talk to her about it.”
Establish a town pole attachment fee, to be charged to entities such as phone and cable companies for use of town utility poles. Reske said “it’s pretty standard practice” and that the town is “just catching up.” Proceeds from the fee, which has not been set yet, will go to the town’s electric utility to help maintain the poles.
Approve an “Extended Operations Policy,” to be used by town departments during times such as declared emergencies, snow and ice storms, water main breaks or power outages. It addresses issues such as overtime and maximum straight hours snowplow drivers can work.
Opt back in to class action opioid settlements. It reads, in part, “The Town of Pendleton, Indiana, after due consideration of said litigation, has determined that it is in the best interest of its citizens to opt back in to the opioids settlements under Indiana Code 4-6-15-2.”

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