City talks capital improvement projects
Thursday April 12, 2012 | By:Rikki Cason | News
Lockport — Many needed projects could soon be completed in the City of Lockport. During Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, the Common Council heard from Treasurer Michael White, who presented them with the city’s proposed bond and bond anticipation note borrowings, which will be part of a capital improvement plan.
This would be phase two of the project, designed to help the city complete needed projects without severely raising taxes.
“We took items normally in the general fund out, in anticipation of borrowing to keep the tax rate the same,” said White.
The council will vote Wednesday to approve the city to go out to bid and begin the bond process. Because it will take several months for this process to be complete, White told them they needed to get started because there were several proposed projects that were in “dyer” need of being completed.
The proposed list included more than 20 projects that department heads, Mayor Michael Tucker or other city officials felt were necessary in the near future. Though the city will approve the entire list to be bonding, they are under no obligation to actually borrow the full amount.
White said that the city would have 10 years from when the bond is approved to decide if and when they want to complete a project. They can choose to complete all the proposed projects, some of the projects or none of them.
Tucker said that is has been several years since the city has bonded a project and they won’t do it again for years.
“The interested rate is the best it can be,” he said. “It’s time to get these projects done.”
Among the proposed projects is the demolition of the existing parking ramp in the city and to create a surface lot in its place. They project is estimated to cost $2.6 million.
Another $600,000 could be allotted to purchase new water meters to replace the aged meters. The city has been slowly switching over meters, allowing workers to simply drive by homes and get reading instead of going into every house and business in the city. The city has 4,229 meters left to replace and this project would allow them to complete it.
Alderman Pat Schrader said that this system is needed to make meter readings “more efficient and quicker.”
He said that the system also has the capability to detect if a home has a leaky toilet or faucet, resulting in high water bills.
“The meter can read and alert us if there is something wrong,” said Schrader. “We then have the ability to call the homeowner. We’re helping everyone.”
Tucker said that they would also like to complete a project, adding islands — similar to Main Street — on Chestnut Street at the ice area. He said that because there is no division between the street and the parking lot, this would help with safety issues and “dress up the area.”
Another $250,000 could be allotted for reconstruction of parks and recreational facilities. This would include repairing the tennis courts at Altro Park, a roof replacement at WPA shelter and at the garage that houses city vehicles at Outwater Park and other park maintenance and general repairs.
Many members of the Common Council agreed that the replacement of the roofs at the municipal building, highways and parks salt barn, the water filtration plant and filter building at the Waste Water Treatment Plant were needed very soon for safety reasons. This project would cost $2.7 million.
Tucker said because the city has not spent money on new equipment and building upgrades in the past few years, “there comes a time when we need to spend money.”
“I think we’re in a great position now,” said White. “We’ve done a good job but to continue to do all the great work in the city we have to give them the tools.”
Once the bonding process is approved, the council will discuss in depth each proposed project and determine its urgency. White will also present the capital improvement plan, listing the projects in order of importance and when it could be completed over the 10-year period.
“Just because we authorize the bond doesn’t mean we have to issue a bond,” said Tucker.
In other city news:
• Alderman John Lombardi hopes for council members to enact a new noise ordinance Wednesday for the downtown business district.
His version of the noise ordinance would allow outside music to be played from 10 a.m. to midnight during weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The current downtown ordinance allows music to be played from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. every night. Residence living near the downtown area, especially those living in the Urban Park Towers, have made numerous complaints about loud music being played until 2:30 a.m., making it difficult for them to sleep.
The main business that would be affected is Lock 34, formerly Taboo, who has outdoor bands playing during the summer months. Lombardi said that he has tried to contact the business but has not been able to speak to them about this issue.
He said that this ordinance would not prevent music being played indoors or people hanging out outside.
“Music at two in the morning is a little much for right there,” he said.
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