Historic preservation ordinance discussion; fire contract; new park ideas

Town giving historic preservation ordinance another look

The Nashville Town Council and Nashville Development Review Commission (DRC) will meet together in a special session Monday, April 1 to discuss how to protect historic properties in town.

The DRC, with help from Town Attorney James T. Roberts, had been working through a draft ordinance since August with the aim of making it tougher to demolish historic buildings.

What areas of town the ordinance would cover, who would deem the properties historic, and what incentive could be given to owners of those properties to keep them up are all points that have been under debate since then.

At the February town council meeting, DRC President Penny Scroggins suggested that the historic preservation ordinance be shelved and that the town focus instead on creating an ordinance addressing property maintenance. A majority of the DRC was thinking in that direction, but not all members were.

“Property owners that attended our work sessions do not want this ordinance,” Scroggins wrote in an email on March 20 to Town Administration Manager Phyllis Carr, which was shared with the town council at the March 21 meeting.

“Brown County, Nashville, Indiana, has been and always will be unique and historic, with or without older buildings,” Scroggins wrote.

DRC member Laura Renwick, who works for Indiana Landmarks, also wrote an email to Carr which was shared with the town council. “For the record, I still think the preservation ordinance is worth considering/pursuing, particularly in light of the likely sale of many of the downtown buildings that were owned by Andy Rogers,” she said.

“… I think it needs to include a better process regarding demolition, where we can do more to protect important buildings than just delaying demolition for a short period of time. And I do think it needs to have language regarding minimum maintenance — something saying buildings need to be maintained to meet certain standards and so architectural features are not being lost.”

Neither the DRC nor the council had decided whether the ordinance would apply only to commercial buildings downtown that could be considered historic and architecturally important, or if it would extend to some residential properties as well.

One of the sticking points with the way the ordinance is drafted now is that DRC members would decide whether a building would be historic and important enough to be preserved. Roberts, at the council’s March meeting, said that it didn’t seem fair to put that burden on the untrained volunteers on the DRC.

The DRC also has been discussing creating an ordinance that would address maintenance of non-historic properties, DRC member Jessica George told the town council. She spoke in the midst of a discussion at the end of the March council meeting about what can be done to get property owners to clean up and fix their sidewalks, such as scraping off gum and power-washing.

The April 1 meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

Town council ups fire department’s contract amount

The Brown County (Nashville) Volunteer Fire Department is getting a raise.

The Nashville Town Council approved the department’s contract for 2019 at $17,000, up from $12,000 last year.

The fire department also has access to a fund of economic development tax money, which Nashville residents pay. In addition to Nashville, the department contracts with Washington Township to provide fire protection to township residents.

None of the firefighters who serve Brown County are paid.

Bill submitted by Rotary prompts discussion

The Town of Nashville is kicking in some money to help the Rotary Club close out its Village Green pump project.

In 2016, while the town was building an all-ages play space at the Village Green with a state grant, Rotary applied for and received its own grant to redo the town pump on the same corner.

Rotary’s project ran over budget, but at the time, the club was told that the town could cover Rotary’s overage with the state grant money because it would likely have some left over, said Jane Gore, a town council member and a member of Rotary.

Rotary submitted bills totaling $1,370 at the March town council meeting. They were to pay local artisan Robb Besosa for a sign he had created at the pump and to reimburse Rotarian Wanda Jones for covering the deposit for the work.

Town council member Nancy Crocker flagged those claims for further discussion. She wasn’t sure that proper procedure was followed, and she didn’t agree with the town being responsible for Rotary going over budget. She said she wasn’t “slamming” Rotary and she thought the work Besosa did was “genius,” but she wanted to make sure things were done correctly.

Gore said the council had discussed several times, before Crocker was elected, that the town would cover the overage.

All council members eventually voted to pay the bill.

The money will come out of the town’s economic development income tax fund, as some money was budgeted for the park out of that fund, said town Clerk-Treasurer Brenda Young.

The remaining state grant money that was awarded for the Village Green play space has been put into a fund for maintenance of town-owned parks in general.

Residents weigh in on new town park plans

A lot of ideas have been proposed for Nashville’s next municipal park, but the design may end up being a simple one.

About five people attended a public hearing on March 21 about what to do with the town-owned lots at Washington and Johnson streets, and “overall, what people were suggesting was very minimal,” said commission member Anna Hofstetter: “benches and tables, maybe a lean-to.”

Suggestions gathered in earlier meetings and through social media included a splash pad for children, a synthetic ice-skating rink that could be used year-round, a sculpture garden, a raised-bed flower garden, a basketball court and other activities for children.

Neighbors at the February meeting of the parks commission raised concern about park activities bringing noise to their area.

No final decisions have been made about the park. The commission meets at 3:30 p.m. on third Thursdays at Town Hall.

The Nashville Parking and Public Facilities Committee does plan to remove the nearly block-long burning bush hedge that separates the park land from the Washington Street parking lot. That’s because burning bushes are invasive, said Town Administration Manager Phyllis Carr.

The shrubs will be replaced with something else. Covenants are attached to that land which require some sort of barrier on the side of the parking lot, following an agreement that was made with neighbors when the parking lot was created, Carr said.

Council OKs raise for town restroom attendant

The town council approved giving a 2-percent raise to the person who cleans town restrooms.

The total pay for this contracted worker will now be $3,874.02 per month ($46,488.24 per year), with $20 per hour for additional services the town requests outside of the contract.

The contractor is responsible for cleaning the restrooms at the Village Green, on Old School Way and on Mound Street year-round. The town pays for the supplies.

In late winter and spring, suggested work hours are 9 a.m to 5 or 6 p.m., and between Memorial Day and Dec. 26, the suggested work schedule is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. During September and October, restrooms are required to be serviced every two hours.

Most town employees also received a 2-percent raise in their pay for 2019.

Town council member David Rudd was absent for the vote on this contract.

Town council OKs new grant application

The town council will be applying for a grant to help locals find substance abuse recovery resources.

Council member Anna Hofstetter made the proposal. AIM, formerly known as the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, is offering $50,000 in grants statewide, up to $5,000 per municipality, to promote awareness of programs already in place. Hofstetter’s plan is to use search engine optimization to help boost the town’s existing resources webpage, and to create refrigerator magnets to help lead people to those services.

The council unanimously approved Hofstetter applying for the grant.

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