By Sarah Richardson
Lewisburg City Council met on Tuesday, Aug. 17, to hold readings of several ordinances, hear an update on the City Hall repointing and painting project, designate American Rescue Plan Act funds, and discuss winterizing the public restrooms at City Hall.
“You’ll notice on the outside of City Hall the paint job that’s been going on,” said City Manager Misty Hill. “It’s working beautifully. There’s been no real big hiccups that have come into play with that.”
A pay request for the first part of the project in the amount of $57,327.90 was approved by council to the contractor, Schleiff Construction, LLC.
The city also reached out to the Schleiff’s to ask that they submit a bid to winterize the public bathrooms located on the side of City Hall. Currently, the bathrooms are only equipped to be open to the public through the warmer months, and closed for the winter.
“We are in the middle of CARES Act Reimbursement with winterizing the bathrooms, so while he is already here we’ve asked him to give us an estimate for what he would charge to winterize the bathrooms for downtown. They are going to be painting in there anyway, so we just asked him to go ahead and get us a bid to see what that addition would be.”
Hill explained that this would not be an annually-needed winterizing, but a permanent solution by adding a heater, solid ceiling, and insulation to prevent the water in the facilities from freezing and causing damage when the temperatures start to drop.
“This way we can keep the restrooms open for holiday traffic,” said Hill. “And now that we’ve had some more restaurants that have opened downtown, we have had to double the cleaning downtown in the bathrooms since we’ve seen some new businesses.”
The council also held the second reading of Ordinance 293, updating language within the coded ordinances, and Ordinance 294, rezoning an area north of town from industrial to a planned use development site. No comments were presented from the public for either open hearing.
The first reading of Ordinance 295 regarding public park rental fees was also held. This rate change affects the daily rentals of the shelters at Hollowell and Dorie Miller parks, and also changes the concession stand and ballfield reservations to “per season” rather than per “scheduled league activity.” Council said this bump in pricing is just to help break even with the cost of park cleanup and maintenance.
If passed, the new rate will run as follows:
- Lewisburg Parks Shelter Reservation: $50/day
- Lewisburg Parks Concession Stand Use: $10/day or $100 per season
- Dorie Miller Ballfield Reservation: $10/day or $100 per season
- Hollowell Ballfield Reservation: $10/day or $100 per season
The ordinance would be made effective Jan. 1, 2022, if the second reading passes at the next council meeting.
Parks Commission Chairperson Sarah Elkins explained, “We have updated this to make them a little more competitive with other fees in the area, we are still the most competitive, I believe, of any municipality in the area as far as how much we charge per day use of the shelters. I think our concession fees say the same. I just want to acknowledge that Councilmember John Little did voice at Finance Committee that he really is uncomfortable with the idea that we have to charge for use of the park, and I want to acknowledge that we are sensitive to that and we will make sure that it is only covering the cost to clean the park and make sure it stays nice.”
In other news:
- Over $840,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds was approved to be designated toward the updating of the municipal water plant.
“Following discussion of the importance of the city’s water supply built for its current residents and as a necessity for future growth, development, and stability, the Finance Committee recommended that the city allocate the entire received amount, $840,081.66, in funding to the new water plant project,” reported Finance Committee Chair Arron Seams. The city passed the recommendation unanimously.
Councilmember Seams also noted that the Mills Group LLC is working on “wayfinding” signs to be placed in the city to help visitor’s locate public parking, restrooms, shopping, restaurants, and other places of interest. There will be an online version, as well, that is easy to update and download. The cost is not to exceed $10,000.
- Planning and Zoning Officer Marsha Cunningham reported that after years of work, the Planning Commission is finally closing in on finishing the updated sign ordinances for the city. They hope to wrap up the project next month.
- Parks Chair Elkins said that they have been working on moving forward with some renovations of the pickleball courts at Hollowell Park thanks to the help of some interested citizens and CARES Act funds. The courts will be located adjacent to the skate park. The commission is working to install lights, which will run around $5,600, and they plan to use the existing poles there to keep costs down.
- Lewisburg Fire Department Chief Joseph Thomas recommended the city renew their automatic mutual aid agreement with the Fairlea Fire Department that has been instilled for “19 or 20 years.” With the terms of the agreement remaining the same, the council passed it unanimously.
Schleiff Construction has been working hard on the tedious brick repointing and painting project for all of City Hall in downtown Lewisburg. Repointing is an essential part of the historic preservation of the building, as it prevents water damage and other issues that come with aging brick and mortar structures.