Cannelton eyes community-center fees

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Repairs made to old-gym roof, more coming

CANNELTON - Cannelton officials will likely start charging for use of the city's community center, and a leaking roof on its old gym is being repaired under warranty, with more funding being sought, common-council members heard at a regular meeting Monday.

The city was prohibited from charging fees for use of the community center under terms of the grant funding used in its construction. The prohibition expired recently, leading council members to raise the question of if and how much rent should be charged to groups using the facility.

Mary Lawalin handles scheduling, and asked the council if they'd made any decisions.

"That's a public-works-board decision," city attorney Chris Goffinet said, "but they'd probably welcome council input."

A $50 fee is assessed now, but is returned if no damage is done, Lawalin said, adding that people request use of the center only occasionally.

Discussion later in the meeting on city insurance policies resulted in a special council meeting being scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday. Mayor Smokey Graves said Tuesday the community center rental issue will be discussed then, as well.

In response to a question from an audience member, the mayor said work was performed on the old-gym roof last week. As The News reported Feb. 25, city leaders were seeking repairs after work warrantied by Carl Cronin of Tell City proved inadequate.

Lawalin said the roof still leaked as of Monday morning. The attorney said Cronin had fixed two leaks, but "he needs to know when it's leaking" so he can identify places that need further repairs.

He is agreeing to fix that under the warranty, Goffinet said.

In response to an audience member's complaint that roof leaks have led to floor damage, and her asking whether a grant could be obtained to fund repairs, the mayor said he talked to a representative of Sen. Richard Lugar a week earlier. "He heard me about that gym," he said. "He has been notified of our needs."

In other business, a public hearing was conducted on proposed repairs to city storm and sanitary sewers. Matt Rueff of the Bernardin and Lochmueller engineering firm said a Community Focus Fund Grant application will go to the state's Office of Community and Rural Affairs Friday, seeking $342,600.

The city would contribute $41,400 toward the work, which would alleviate ponding in areas touched by Knight Street and St. Louis Avenue. A forced main delivering sewage to Tell City will also undergo repair.

"You now pump as much as you can to Tell City for treatment," Rueff explained, "but during storms you can get storm and sewer water combining and overflowing into Castlebury Creek, and from there to the river. We need to repair the latter half of the line to Tell City."

Until the repairs are made, the city will have to continue paying to have rain water treated at the sewage plant.

A sewer master plan developed under a previous OCRA grant identified a number of projects, the engineer said, some of which are small and can be handled by city workers as time and funding become available.

Rueff also said the city had increased its matching funds by $3,000, calling that "important because you're in competition with other communities."

"That means a lot" to the people who will evaluate applications, he added, "from a city they know doesn't have a lot of resources."

The city can expect to hear the outcome of its application in May, he said. "If the city is successful, the projects could probably be done next year."