Before the regularly scheduled Peabody City Council meeting Monday night, council members made short work of a special “performance” public hearing to closeout the sewer project that has dragged on since December 2002. The purpose of the hearing was to evaluate the performance of the project and allow the public to ask questions or make comments about it.
Nine people attended, but no questions or comments were made and the council unanimously approved a motion to close the hearing.
Members of the Peabody Main Street Association board presented council members with a cake congratulating them for finally completing the project. The cake was decorated with an unfurled roll of toilet paper being flushed into the bowl of a toilet. On the squares of toilet paper were some of the “buzzwords” of the issue — KDHE, demolition, lagoons, mercury, 21 extensions, $160,000, and others.
The regular council meeting convened at 7 p.m., and for the first time in six and one-half years the agenda did not include multiple listings under the heading “sewer project issues and updates.”
Although the sewer project ended, public works superintendent Darren Pickens indicated ongoing problems with the lift station at Prairie Lawn being overwhelmed during heavy rain such as the storms that hit Peabody from Sunday to Monday. In addition, Peabody Veterinary Clinic had water backed up and Pickens believed storm drains and the aging sewer system were simply unable to keep up with the amount of water with which they had to deal.
No solution was noted and no action was taken.
Mayor Larry Larsen told the council he was not yet ready to appoint anyone to the final council chair. Two additional candidates had contacted Larsen and expressed an interest in serving.
“To be fair, I think we should go through an interview process with each person so the entire council can hear how each candidate thinks he or she will fit into the current group with the issues we have facing us,” Larsen said. Council members unanimously approved deferring the decision until the next meeting.
In other business:
- Flooding in the alley behind 311 Maple was reviewed. Pickens noted that the south end of the alley is three feet higher than the north, which causes the water to backup at the alley entrance on Third Street. Again, no solution was reached, but council members agreed that if any work were done to level the alley, sewer replacement would need to be considered a part of the project. “There is no reason to try to fix the flooding issue if you are just going to have to dig it up in two or three years because of a collapsing sewer,” said councilman Tom Schmidt. “It just makes sense to budget for the whole thing now.”
- A new truck parking area will be designated at the west end of First Street between Olive and the alley parallel to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Trucks no longer will be allowed to park on the curbs on east First Street. The city will maintain the alley adjacent to the Union Pacific tracks.
- Larsen made a presentation May 7 about the Safe Kids’ Camp program at Peabody-Burns Elementary School. It will be hosted by Peabody emergency services. A $100 donation for the project was approved.
- An amendment to the Standard Traffic Ordinance was reviewed again and city administrator Mac Manning noted state legislators had approved the use of golf carts as an alternate mode of transportation. Manning will get the state’s wording for the change. The original committee that crafted the amendment for Peabody will meet at 1 p.m. May 11 to review the ordinance.
- Planning and zoning chairman Bob Marshall reviewed a recommendation for curb and gutter cleaning and repair in the city’s comprehensive plan. He requested the council consider either a plan to begin work on Walnut by asking the street contractor to patch damaged areas with millings or allow volunteers to use city equipment to keep the gutters clean. Marshall said it was the committee members’ understanding that the city could hire the volunteers at $1 a year and be covered for liability issues. Councilman Schmidt said option number one would be his choice and that APAC would be at the May 11 meeting to review street repair plans. The subject will be addressed at that time.
- Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke introduced Brad Cady who had been hired as a full-time police officer.
- Following a presentation by Burke, the council discussed, but took no action on his recommendation to install an additional 20 to 25 yield signs. Burke requested and received permission to attend training in New Mexico to deal with elder abuse. He also informed the council that he has had an increase in requests for financial help from people stranded in Peabody because they cannot afford the fuel they need to complete their trip. He was instructed to contact the Peabody Ministerial Alliance to see if they still have a program to help individuals in financial difficulty.
- Council members denied a request from the HUB to fund a youth center. The denial opens the door for the non-profit center to seek funding from other sources.
- The council approved a request from the Fourth Fest Society to split the cost of security on July Fourth and a request for barricades at First and Walnut streets north of Santa Fe Park June 6. Marion County Health Department will host a bicycle rodeo there from 8 a.m. to noon on that Saturday. Also approved was a request from Fred Berns for a written document confirming that the city will keep the former sewer plant site fenced, maintained, and unused and that those conditions be filed with the deed.
- Pickens told the council new pool drain guards were installed and the city is in compliance with a new federal law requiring the guards in public and private pools. He announced plumbing will be replaced in the bathhouse at the pool, painting will be done when there is a seven-day window for dry weather, and a new sand filter will not arrive until mid-June which might cause some scheduling conflicts. Schmidt asked him to meet with the pool committee and manager Beth Peter to arrange a schedule that would be least disruptive to children in swimming lessons and swim team practice. Pickens also told council members they would need to budget for a new pool cover at the end of this swimming season as the current cover has begun to rot and disintegrate.
- Pickens took the mosquito fogger to McPherson for a class in its use and to have it certified and calibrated. He thanked Frank Woodruff for volunteering to install a new electrical box at the gazebo in Santa Fe Park.