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Oolitic Town Council To Sell Property, Begins Proceedings For Safe Route To Schools
Updated May 29, 2013 7:15 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(OOLITIC) - The Oolitic Town Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to sell the property at the dead end of Welsh Avenue.

The council will now advertise for bids. But one Councilman Bill Kendall voted against the action.

The town filed a lawsuit last year to determine who owned the property.

During the suit Bob Szemsack claimed his wife's family owned the property, but that suit determined the city owned it. Now businessman, Jack Kellams would like to purchase the property to put up a billboard that would face Ind. 37 from both the north and south sides to advertise his Antique Mall on Main Street in Oolitic.

But the council voted to offer the property to the highest bidder.

After receiving the bids and reviewing them the council will then decide who to award the bid to at their July meeting.

Kendall is against selling the property.

"I would rather not doing anything with the property," Kendall says. "But the only fair way to do this is with sealed bids. It has just caused so much damn aggravation. I just rather not sell it or maybe lease the property."

Council President Delvin Nikirk says leasing the property would still make the town responsible for it and he would rather not do that and the other council members agreed.

Kendall was not happy with that decision.

"This bothers me a whole lot," he added. "I want it clear that we are not selling it just because Jack Kellams is wanting it."

But if Kellams bid is approved and the town decides to sell the property to Kellams, Szemsack says, the town council must first have the zoning of the property changed from residential to business and develop a comprehensive zoning plan to permit Kellams to place a billboard on the property.

Szemsack says if the town fails to do that, the town could lose federal highway funds and will be violating federal law.

The council also approved a resolution to move forward with their Safe Routes To School project.

The council voted to give Town Attorney Greg Pittman permission to offer Kenny Hawkins $3,650, the average of two appraisals the city received, for an easement at 601 Hoosier Avenue. INDOT says they will pay for the process to acquire the land for the project.

The appraisals were required so INDOT can begin the process of eminent domain.

Hawkins has refused to donate his property on Hoosier Avenue for the side walk project because of the possible repercussions to his business. All the town's residents have granted easement rights expect Hawkins.

Hawkins will now have 30 days to accept the offer. If he refuses, INDOT will proceed with eminent domain proceedings.

Eminent domain is the power to take private property for public use by the state.

Safe Routes to School project, would add sidewalks on the east side of Hoosier Avenue from Fourth Street to Ninth Street.

In other business:

* The council voted to hire Clifton Tipton to the street department. Tipton is replacing Jeff Franklin who resigned. Clifton, who still needs to obtain his CDL license and complete a physical, will begin his duties on June. 4.

*Sue Holmes, with the Oolitic Festival committee presented the board with insurance for the festival. She told the council she still needs to secure insurance for the fireworks display. She says there is still time to have an entry in the festival parade. Anyone interested can contact her or town hall.
The festival is June 15.

* Town officials and the town marshals have received complaints about traffic at the intersection of Indiana Avenue and 3rd Street.

"It is just a bad spot," says Town Marshal Jon Jefferies. "One solution would be to make it no parking on both sides of the road."

Currently the residents on that street can park on the east side. Another suggestion was to place a three-way stop sign at the intersection.

Town council members and Jefferies will take a look at the issue and report back to the council with suggestions.

* Another traffic problem was on Walnut Street, turning onto 10th Street.
Deputy Marshal Bill Allen says people are parking where they shouldn't, making it difficult for the town trash truck to make the turn.

Allen says he can't write tickets for illegal parking because the curb has deteriorated and the yellow lines are not longer there, designating the area no parking.

The council approved the street department to address the issue by re-building the curb and repainting the yellow line.

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