Council OKs ARP funds for city departments

After awarding American Rescue Plan funding to local nonprofit organizations, the Seymour City Council turned its attention to city departments.

During a meeting Monday night, the council approved awarding a combined $2.6 million to five departments. The second readings and final votes of ordinances, presented by Councilman Jerry Hackney, chairman of the finance committee, were approved 5-0 with councilmen Drew Storey and Chad Hubbard absent.

The money was divvied out as part of the city’s $4.16 million in federal pandemic relief funding.

Seymour Water Pollution Control received $300,000 to open dig a sanitary sewer line and install a storm drain in the alley between Indianapolis Avenue and Second Street. Utility Director Jarin Gladstein said the existing sanitary sewer line is about 10 to 11 feet deep, and a storm line recently was installed about 2 feet deep as part of a paving project.

“They installed a T there to accept that alley when that project goes,” he said.

The Seymour Department of Public Works received the most funding at $1.5 million. Director Chad Dixon said that will be used to construct a waste transfer station near the city garage in the Freeman Field Industrial Park that would combat increasing fuel costs, improve employee morale, could pay for itself in a few years and more.

With a waste transfer station, waste will be collected from throughout the city by smaller automated waste hauling trucks and held before three loads are combined into one semitrailer to Rumpke’s Medora Landfill.

The city has six trucks with four picking up waste and recycling in the city daily. Those trucks also then make daily trips to the landfill, which also offers recycling services.

Some of the drivers make the hourlong drive more than once a day. Dixon said the move to a waste transfer station would free up 2,000 hours of employee time and allow for training they need to do for their jobs.

By freeing up some of the 21 employees from making the trip to Medora each day, it would allow them to do other tasks for the department, such as filling potholes and preventative maintenance.

In 2021, the city trucks made 1,400 trips to the landfill, which could be lowered to under 300, Dixon said. That would produce cost savings because some of those trucks only get 3 to 5 miles a gallon of diesel fuel.

The move to a waste transfer station also will save money because the city is presently paying Rumpke to pick up dumpsters full of large items collected from the residents and hauled to the city garage.

Large items cannot be placed in the small automated trucks to be hauled to the landfill. With the transfer station, those items can be placed with the regular waste and shipped in a semitrailer to the landfill. The city paid Rumpke $22,000 for that service in 2021.

The Seymour Police Department’s portion of the funding is $240,000 to replace a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Police Chief Greg O’Brien said over the summer, one of the units went bad, and it was temporarily fixed and is running at about 60%.

With the ARP funding, the upstairs and downstairs units can be replaced. O’Brien said one of them has reached its life expectancy and the other one is close. Ordering now, he said the units will be in sometime in the spring.

The Seymour Fire Department received $160,000 for a traffic preemption system, which is designed to give emergency response vehicles a green light on their approach to a signalized intersection while providing a red light to conflicting approaches.

Fire Chief Brad Lucas said discussion started with firetrucks coming out of Station 3 onto Meadowbrook Drive and turning onto Tipton Street, or U.S. 50. That intersection is often congested, and Lucas said he has witnessed many times where a firetruck had to stop in the middle of it because people were driving through despite the emergency lights activated.

The idea is to extend that through all of the stoplights on Tipton Street along with the intersections of Sixth and Ewing streets, Second and Broadway streets, Community Drive and Second Street, Walnut and Second streets and Chestnut and Second streets.

The cost for a transponder for each firetruck is $4,000, and the cost per traffic signal is $6,500.

Finally, the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department received $400,000 to double the size of the parking lot at the Freeman Field Recreational Complex.

Director Stacy Findley said with two new ball diamonds, a growing soccer program, a new adult soccer league and cross-country practices and meets taking place at the facility, there is increased foot traffic and vehicles parked in the grass, near the entrance/exit and in a fire lane.

The number of parking spaces would go from 200 to 400, and the new lot would be in the area that now houses a shelter house and a playground.

Findley said her department is going to use its own funding to relocate the shelter house and playground. She received feedback from people saying they prefer to have multiple smaller shelter houses for smaller events versus a larger shelter house, so the department has included that in its five-year master plan and will implement that at the Freeman Field complex.

The playground currently is near the shelter house close to the parking lot, so moving that to a different location will make it safer for kids, Findley said.

“People park in the fire lane in front of the playground, and that creates one lane of traffic. That clogs it up,” she said. “With expanding parking, you would have two lanes of traffic going back and forth.”

The department received a grant from the Indiana Department of Health for new playground equipment at Freeman Field.

“I feel this is a great time to move our outdated playground equipment and relocate to a safer location and double our parking space,” Findley said.

Earlier in the year, the council OK’d a $200,000 request for ARP funding from Child Care Network to go toward a child care center in downtown Seymour.

In late September, the council approved $802,545 in ARP funds for 11 nonprofit agencies, and in November, more than $204,000 was awarded to four nonprofit organizations.

The city has until the end of 2024 to obligate the ARP funds, which must be spent by the end of 2026.