Mink Street improvements
Amid dissention, City Council approves roadwork legislation
Pataskala City Council on Jan. 3 approved two pieces of legislation to move forward with improvements to Mink Street.
The city expects to receive a $3.6-million grant from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, plus a $375,000 grant and a $125,000 interest-free loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the project.
The funds will cover more than half the total cost, with Pataskala responsible for $2.74 million, according to city staff reports.
The project includes reconstructing 2.5 miles of Mink Street from Broad Street to Morse Road.
City Administrator Timothy Boland said the project will be done in two phases and the legislation needed to be approved -- with City Council waiving second and third readings -- to move the project forward. City officials expect construction to begin in 2016.
The first piece of legislation approved Jan. 3 authorized Boland to enter into an agreement with MORPC to accept the funds, enter into contracts for design and accept bids for the second phase of the project.
Councilman Mike Fox tried to amend the legislation to remove the administrator's control over entering into contracts and accepting bids.
Council began to vote on the amendment, with Dan Hayes, Bryan Lenzo and Merissa McKinstry voting in favor until Mayor Steve Butcher stopped the proceedings and asked if the three council members understood what they were voting for.
Councilman Bernard Brush called for a point of order, citing City Council rules that do not allow any other discussion during a role call vote. Butcher countered Brush's point of order by asking the clerk to repeat the amendment being voted on.
When the second role call vote was taken, the amendment failed, with only Brush and Fox voting in favor of it. Mike Compton, Hayes, Lenzo, McKinstry and Pat Sagar voted against it.
Fox said he had issues with approved legislation Council Council viewed only once. He also said Council is giving up control of project costs by allowing contracts to be signed and bids to be accepted at a later date without further review.
Fox said City Council has control of spending in Pataskala and the city should not rush through the process on such a large project, especially when council members could have met Jan. 7 to further discuss the legislation. That meeting will not be held because of a lack of agenda items.
After the amendment failed, the legislation passed 5-2, with Brush and Fox dissenting.
Brush and Fox also voted against the second ordinance to enter into an agreement with the OPWC to accept the grant and loan funds, enter into contracts for design and accept bids for the first phase of the project. The ordinance was approved 5-2.
Fox did not try to amend the second piece of legislation but, he said, he opposed it for the same reasons.
Brush said after the meeting he agreed with Fox that the city could have approved the agreements to accept funding and waited to approve bid acceptance and contracts without delaying the project.
Boland and Butcher both said the Ohio Department of Transportation encouraged the city to start the process as soon as possible because of the time involved with studies associated with the grants. Boland said the environmental study, for example, can take up to a year.
Compton, who often votes with Brush and Fox, said he supported the legislation because Mink Street is in terrible condition and has been for the last 30 years.
"It's had one layer of blacktop in the last 30 years. It's falling apart," he said.
Compton said residents have told him City Council needs to do something about the road and he supports the receipt of grants and state funding to complete the project.
In other business Jan. 3, City Council:
* Approved Dan Hayes as council president in a 4-3 vote with Brush, Compton and Fox voting for Compton as president.
* Approved Merissa McKinstry as council vice president in a 4-3 vote withBrush, Compton and Fox voting for Compton as vice president.
* Approved meetings to be held the first and third Mondays of each month. Meetings will start Jan. 22, a Tuesday, because of the Jan. 21 Martin Luther King Day holiday. The vote was 5-2 with Brush and Fox dissenting.
* Unanimously approved City Council's rules of order.
* Did not take action to appoint a member to the West Licking Joint Fire District board.
Fox was the city's representative, but his term ended Dec. 31.
Law Director Rufus Hurst said City Council could not vote on the board appointment Jan. 3 because it was not part of the special meeting agenda. A fire board meeting is slated for Jan. 11, but Pataskala will not have a representative available to vote, Hurst said.