City council vacates street

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Resident fears action would affect emergency access

CANNELTON - Despite a protest from an adjacent landowner, Cannelton Common Council members voted in a public hearing July 14 to vacate a portion of the city's Richardson Street.

"My concern is the people living above me," said George Markline, who resides at 15 Clifton Heights. "If something happens, fire equipment can't get to them or they can't get out. There are kids up there, plus adults. I fear for the safety of children and adults if something should happen."

He gave the council permission to "put drainage across my property" if that would aid their decision to disapprove the vacation.

The council first discussed it this year at an April meeting. Councilwoman Lynn Fulkerson said then the previous city administration talked about it but never followed through.

Councilman John Young III said at the April meeting he has seen cars start up the road, but their drivers realize "it's extremely dangerous, and they'll start backing down." That action is also dangerous, he said, and "I don't want the city to be liable if something happens."

"That road was left alone for many years," Mayor Smokey Graves said at this month's hearing, which preceded the council's regular meeting. "Looking at maintenance from the Clifton Heights end, there are some ... issues."

City attorney Chris Goffinet noted a cable blocks each end of the road.

"If something happens, you can't get in or out now," Graves said.

"There are other streets in Tell City and Cannelton that dead-end, and have only one entrance," the lawyer noted. "I'm not sure the fire department would take a truck up that road."

"It's impassable for a fire truck or ambulance," said Young, also a firefighter.

Graves called the road "past the point of revivability," but noted people ride motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles on it, subjecting the city to possible liability.

"I would say we have more liability problems now than we would" after the street's vacation, Young said.

Goffinet said the city's sewer department would retain a perpetual easement for a line running through the area, but the property would otherwise be divided among property owners on each side of the street. He also said the city would have no obligation to remove or repair its asphalt.

The vacation went into effect when council members signed it.

In other business during the regular meeting, Young said residents have asked him who's responsible for sidewalks.

Goffinet said homeowners are, "but we don't have an ordinance." He would look into preparing one, the lawyer said.

Before the hearing and council meeting began, city Building Inspector Bruce Myers told The News residents are responsible for any grass growing on the street side of sidewalks in front of their homes. "Mostly along Seventh Street," he said, "people think the state will take care of it." Seventh Street is also Indiana 66.

"Are we still allowing limb disposal behind the floodwall?" Young asked.

"I've not had an issue with that," Graves answered,

"We've been patrolling," Cannelton Police Chief Kenny Kellems said, "and have made people put garbage back in their cars."