News

Council approves fireworks, plans city hall renovations

ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo

Jefferson County Supervisor Daryn Hamilton returned to his old stomping grounds Monday when he updated the Fairfield City Council about the supervisors’ plan to create an urban renewal area.
ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Jefferson County Supervisor Daryn Hamilton returned to his old stomping grounds Monday when he updated the Fairfield City Council about the supervisors’ plan to create an urban renewal area.

The Fairfield City Council met Monday and approved an agreement to purchase fireworks from a company from 2020-2022.

The contract is with the company J & M Displays, Inc. Fairfield is paying $5,000 for the city fireworks display this coming July.

City Administrator Aaron Kooiker said that, because of tariffs on Chinese-made goods, including fireworks, J & M Displays raised the price of the fireworks $500. They will now cost $5,300 per year from 2020-2022, because J & M Displays is giving the city a $200-per-year discount for signing a multi-year contract.

Urban Renewal Area

The councilors saw a familiar face in the audience Monday night. Former councilor and now Jefferson County Supervisor Daryn Hamilton was on hand to update the council on the county’s proposed urban renewal area.

The county plans to declare an urban renewal area in order to bond for major road improvements in the county affecting Brookville Road, Packwood Road and Germanville Road. The urban renewal area is not in city limits, but one of the streets affected by it is within the city’s 2-mile territorial zoning area. The council passed a resolution approving the urban renewal area.

Changes coming for North Fourth

The council plans to remove parking spaces along North Fourth Street where it intersects West Grimes Avenue. That intersection has been the subject of discussion among councilors and the public safety committee because of the poor visibility created by allowing cars to park on Fourth Street so close to Grimes Avenue. This is especially true for eastbound drivers.

Another problem has been observed on North Fourth Street where it intersects West Hempstead Avenue one block south of Grimes. Parking along the east side of North Fourth Street creates a bottleneck where traffic flow is restricted.

To solve both problems, the council’s resolution prohibits parking on the west side of North Fourth Street from West Grimes Avenue to a point 75 feet to the south, and on the east side of North Fourth Street from West Hempstead Avenue to a point 80 feet to the north.

Kooiker said the painted lines now indicating parking spots in those areas will be removed. He doesn’t foresee the removal of parking being a problem since there is ample parking elsewhere in the area. The Lord’s Cupboard, at the intersection of Fourth and Grimes, does not need street parking since it has its own parking lot.

City hall renovations

The city plans to use federal money to renovate its city hall. It will make the front of the building more accessible to people with disabilities, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The front desk area, bathrooms and foyer will be remodeled. The public hearing on the renovation will be during the council’s next meeting, at 7 p.m. Feb. 25 in the council chambers at city hall.

City Engineer Melanie Carlson said the bathrooms will be the most noticeable change. Not only will they be larger to allow for greater turning space for wheelchairs, they will also receive new fixtures. The faucets and toilets will be updated to environmentally-friendly low-flow versions.

At present, the front desk has three clerk stations, all at a standing position. After the remodel, a fourth station will be added, at a seated height. This is to accommodate not only people in wheelchairs but also those who have trouble standing and prefer to sit while handling city business.

A few other changes are in store, too. For instance, a ramp will be added to the council chambers so a councilor does not have to climb stairs. Carlson mentioned this is helpful for councilors with mobility problems. Another alteration is replacing doorknobs with levers. Levers are easier to turn for people with arthritis.

Those who wish to see a detailed layout of the changes may contact Carlson at 472-6193 or by visiting city hall during business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Shutdown delays

Carlson mentioned that the renovations at city hall would have already gone out for bid were it not for the federal government’s shutdown. The shutdown, which lasted from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, delayed the project six weeks because the city needed the United States Department of Agriculture’s approval on the design, and USDA employees did not work during the shutdown.

The city had feared the shutdown would delay the renovation of the city’s wastewater treatment facility. In the event of a change order, the city would have needed USDA’s approval since USDA is providing funding for the project. Luckily for the city, no change orders were needed during the shutdown.

The only problem the shutdown caused was delaying reimbursement from the federal government to the city after the city paid its contractor.

“It was an inconvenience, but not serious,” Carlson said. “In the three weeks since the shutdown, all of the paperwork has been taken care of, and we’re more or less up to date.”