by Susan Sullivan, Public Communications Manager
On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, a Committee of the Whole Meeting was held in Council Chambers at 7 p.m. The following are highlights of discussion and presentation by council.
Councilor Wes Nugent opened the meeting on April 24 as mayor pro tem. Deputy Mayor Ron Bane was absent.
Starting off the meeting was a presentation by the West Virginia Univeristy Communication Course entitled, “Pedestrian Safety Assessment and Observation.” Their project was to gauge the pedestrian/traffic interaction downtown and on the Downtown Campus, and develop text messages that raise awareness about the issue. You can watch the presentation on YouTube here. Click here to download the PowerPoint Presentation.
Next, there were two non-profit presentations. The first was from Sharon Turner with the Morgantown Public Library. They noted the amount of people and groups who use the Library for their non-profit meetings. They also talked about a program they kicked off on Kids’ Day that will help to get books into the hands of kids. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends an age-appropriate book to each registered child every month. They also said they’ve been active on Facebook as well. Also, they’re trying a new program this summer called Universal Class. It’s a program for any age for foreign languages or continuing education, and they hope government and private sectors will turn to this for their continuing education classes. The presenter also touched on the renovations that have been going on at the Library the last few weeks. View Sharon’s Presentation to council here on YouTube.
The second non-profit organization to speak was the Mon Rail Trails Conservancy, represented by Director Ella Belling. The Rail Trail is a 48 mile linear park that runs through 3 counties, and she says they hope to head into Pennsylvania soon, as well.
Next was an Inclusive City Commission Presentation by Don Spencer and Barb Howe. Click here to download the PowerPoint Presentation. Click here to view the Ordinance they presented to council.
In the Public Portion, many came to the podium to support the Inclusive City Commission.
Items for Discussion
David Weaver, Project Manager from AECom, gave a short presentation on the final Phase of the upcoming Streetscape Project. The project will complete the last stretch of the High Street Streetscape Improvement Program. It will replace sidewalks, install pedestrian-scale street lights, and improve crosswalks from Foundry Street to Kirk Street. You can view his presentation here on YouTube, or Click here to download the PowerPoint Presentation.
Next on the agenda was “Solid Waste Franchise Agreement Considerations – Clean Community Concept.” Tom Arnold first opened his time at the podium by updating Council on Student Move-Out Proceedures – you can read the press release on that program here.
Mr. Arnold said there were four points to bring to Council:
1.) First, he asked that council and the Development Department consider changing all duplexes or apartments with three or more rooms from a residential zoning area to commercial. This will help Allied Waste with a lot of deliquent accounts. Instead of all students in an apartment building signing up for trash service on their own, landlords will be the ones in charge of the bill, and they can factor the cost into their rent accordingly. Mr. Arnold said there are more than 600 duplexes and apartment buildings within the city.
2.) Next, he highlighted the fact that the jump in recycling will be very big. The list of recyclables is being expanded from six basic items to seventeen categories. Patrons will also be able to choose whether they’re recycling is collected every week or every two weeks, like it is now.
3.) Something he said hasn’t been very popular, but would help out Allied a lot, is the ability to pick up trash earlier in the morning. Currently, they start at 6 a.m., and he says that’s one of the reasons trash and litter is a problem – a lot of the trash cans don’t get emptied until later in the morning or the afternoon, then the cans sit in front of the house until the residents get home. He said it would help if they could pick up early enough that residents could bring their cans back in from the curbs before they leave for work or school.
4.) Last, he talked about the City taking over Billing for solid waste and recycling services. It would be a long term-phase in process ending in October 2013. This would mean that a resident’s trash would be picked up regardless of whether or not their bill is current or past due, and Allied can focus on trash collection.
Cathy Linton, General Manager of the Mountaineer Mall, presented next and talked about redevelopment at the “Old Mall.” She said it was opened in the late 1970s with three major department stores. Gross Leasable Area (GLA) in the mall is 687,922 square feet. She said they did their first major renovation in 1987 and added 22,000 more feet of GLA and anothe Anchor store, Stone & Thomas. The Mall’s hayday was in the 1970s and 1980s, when the city didn’t boast Towncentres and Plazas. After the Morgantown Mall was built, the Mountaineer Mall switched to a value-added strategy with the additions of WalMart, Goodwill, consignment shops, the Dollar Store. They moved to a mixed-use era in the early 2000s when TeleTech came in. “We had to do everything we could to stay afloat.” Now, however, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has expanded from JC Penneys to WalMart and the space between it and JC Penneys, and currently, for the first time in YEARS, the Mountaineer Mall is at 86% occupancy. Cathy said it has been hanging in the 50% range for nearly a decade. “We’re getting calls every day for office space. We’ve done a lot of painting on the facade, and we’re getting ready to do a major parking lot paving,” she elaborated. She said 2,000 people work there on a regular basis, Monday through Friday. Cathy hopes to change the perception that the Mountaineer Mall is the “old, dead mall,” because she says it’s really been making a comeback as an office use mall. However, she says it’s not really a mall anymore – so they’re talking about changing the name and doing some rebranding there.
Next, Constellation Energy was invite to give Council an update on the energy savings the City has achieved. The City hired Constellation a few years ago to help make an energy use assessment for the City Buildings, and recommendations were made as to how to improve the “green”ness of the building. The quarterly “Green Report” will be be in place for the first five years. The City has saved $225,000 based on the changes it implemented in 2010. They said the building “overperformed” based on the parameters he measured, maybe the boiler retrofit, the chillers, the lighting. That equipment that came with the changes is being paid for with the savings they’re getting on the greener technology.
The City then discussed an ordinance authorizing a Right of Way Agreement with Mountaineer Gas Company for Gas Line Installation through Airport Reality. It would apply to not only the WV National GUard Readiness Center, but to future industrial expansion up there as well. It’ll be 4″ wide and run 700′ from West Run Road to the Readiness Center property, then can split off from there for future development. The motion was seconded to move it to the agenda. You can view that ordinance here.
Item 6 was an Agreement with the Division of HIghways for establishment and Maintenance of Traffic Signmal System, Intersection of WV 7 and I-68 (that’s the Sabraton Exit). The DOH would like a little city help with traffic light installation and maintenance there. The Eastbound entry and exit intersection along Rt. 7 has a light, but the Westbound entry and exit ramps do not, and the DOH is finding the rubber barriers between lanes inadequate to stop accidents and traffic backing up. To (hopefully) help remedy the project, the DOH would like to put traffic lights at the Westbound entry and exit ramp intersection.
Next, the Committee briefly touched on implementation of the High Pressure Cleaning Program and the official agreement with West Virginia University. “We still are planning to go forward with the lease of a large piece of equipment to execute the High Pressure Cleaning Program,” said Mr. Moore, And the contribution by West Virginia University is the contribution of a smaller piece of equipment.” The smaller gum buster that WVU is letting the city borrow will help to complement the larger piece of equipment that the City plans to lease. The City is looking at paying $2400/mo for 2 months a year for the larger piece of equipment, then use the Gum Buster to help during the other 10 months for basic maintenance of sidewalks.
WVU Gumbuster: Small wand, heat the gum, then scrape it off as best you can – turns dark gum spots into lighter, barely noticable spots. Offered on lease from WVU. (Click here to read the lease.)
Larger Sidewalk Cleaner: Bigger, more labor intensive machine – REMOVES everything from the sidewalk, from the buildings to the streets. Could also be used at Ampitheater, dog parks, and in graffiti removal. Looking to leas 2/months a year at $2400.
A basic plan of attack is already being created by the Downtown Task Force for the use of these machines.
Lastly, J.R. Sabatelli offered a Quarterly Financial and Budget Update. The last one was given in December.
The Capital Escrow account has had a flurry of activity happening with it given the fact that the paving season has been completed for several months, and there is also a bit of carry over and the paving season is going to be starting here in a bit.
He said that the City is doing faily well maintaining costs assocated with that fund. Things that will more than likely be brought to you as a general budget adjustment regarding the Farmers’ Market Pavilion: the City will continually be taking in donations to help cover those costs.
The general fund, in short: 73.9% of budget revenue has been recieved. There is no real correlation between the time that has passed and now much of our budget revenue we’ve recieved. 80.7% of budgeted B&O Taxes & 60.51% of B&O Construction Taxes have been colected. there’s roughly a 6% increase in all standard B&O taxes from FY 2010-2011. Overall revenues from FY 2010 to FY 2011 are up about 5%.
Currently, 71% of the Airport’s revenues are in, a 14.2% increase over the previous year. Fuel sales are the largest portion of revenues, so it makes sense that the Airport is making more money from its sales. It has already purchased about 89% of the amount budgeted for this fiscal year. This Quarterly report, given at the April 2012 Committee of the Whole meeting, is the first that has included a report on the airport.
Meeting ajourned roughly 10:25.