NEW BUFFALO—At its Monday, Aug. 19, regular meeting, the New Buffalo City Council by a 5-0 vote approved a $58,500 master plan for the city beach, of which $7,000 will be borne locally. The bulk of the funding for this un-budgeted item will be covered by a U.S. Department of Rural Development Business Grant.

“The proposal is to develop a master plan for the redevelopment of the waterfront area, and complete preliminary engineering plans and cost estimates for approved projects.” City Manager David Richards said in his routine remarks to the conch.

Abonmarche Engineering’s Aug. 12 document on the master plan, on file at City Hall and included in the council members’ packets, says that Abonmarche proposes “forming a project advisory committee which includes a representative from each of the following groups: City Council, city staff, Parks/Harbor Commission, Downtown Development Authority, Planning Commission, New Buffalo Business Association, New Buffalo Public Schools, Pokagon Fund.”

As outlined Aug. 19 by Abonmarche’s Tony McGhee, the proposed steps as recommended and outlined by Abonmarche, in order, are: Solicit public input for preliminary design; conceptual land use and design; review conceptual land use and design options; hold two public-design “charrettes” (stakeholder meetings for resolving differences) to solicit public input and gauge public support of plan options; develop final plans for consideration; review the final two options with the advisory committee; finalize the waterfront master plan; complete preliminary engineering; and develop a financing strategy.

In another, more imminent matter that also calls for public input, Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV announced late in the meeting during “council comments” that, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, a public hearing on proposed repairs of the busy Whittaker Street bridge will be held at City Hall. The actual work on the deteriorating bridge, O’Donnell said, won’t take place until after Labor Day.

In another Aug. 19 matter, the council voted 5-0 to set a public hearing date to discuss vacating portions of Franklin, Farmer and Virginia streets in light of the New Buffalo Area School’s proposal to build a new technology center.

The proposal “requires street ‘vacatings’ and property transfers from the city,” the City Manager’s report states. “The City’s attorney has prepared the necessary paperwork and Abonmarche has a detailed description of the project to be presented to the City Council.”

At press time the public hearing date and time hadn’t been set yet. Inquiries can be made at City Hall, 224 W. Buffalo St., (269) 469-1500. There is on file a pending real estate purchase agreement which states that the “City agrees to convey the property to the buyer (the school district) by quit claim deed for the sum of $10.” The closing is set to take place Sept. 30.

The school district is responsible for applicable transfer taxes, deed-recording costs and other applicable closing costs. The agreement covers two parcels, blocks 206 and 207 in the “Virginia addition” to the city.

In other business Aug. 19, the City Council:

• Heard from resident Debbie Schmidt during public comment that a recent Indiana chemical spill had reportedly released dangerous substances, including cyanide, into Lake Michigan, raising regional concerns on drinking water being affected. City Manager David Richards responded by saying that City Water Superintendent Kevin Anderson is testing city water for traces of cyanide.

• Followed through and approved the final readings of ordinances 242 and 243. The former ordinance combines the Park and Harbor Commissions; the latter reduces the Planning Commission’s seats to five; the number had been nine, and then was reduced to seven in recent years.

• Approved a request from the Street Department to paint three sides of its garage. The budgeted item costs $6,600. Richards noted two sides of the building painted in 2016 already are peeling and cracking. E. I. Construction of Three Oaks was approved for the job.

• Voted to advertise for seal bids in order to sell the city-owned property at 435 S. Whittaker Street, which is a former hardware store property acquired by the city during a 2015 tax sale. “The DDA has considered many unsuccessful options to developing the store and has come to the conclusion it should be sold,” Richards said, while noting that the city’s only costs consist of advertising.

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