The Grove City Council discussed the progress of the Highway 59 widening project at a regular meeting Tuesday night.
Public Works Director Jack Bower said ODOT is currently working on storm drainage and underground lighting conduits. He said they are getting close to doing the temporary paving that will be required to reroute traffic around work areas.
“The work is on schedule,” Bower said. “They are saying it will be completed in October.”
During the public comment section of the meeting, Grove citizen Dave Helms suggested that visitors to town will not know the road narrows as it approaches Leisure Lane, and that perhaps ODOT could leave out the center turn lane, which would serve no useful function, and make the highway four-lane up to the light.
City Manager Bruce Johnson said he would be glad to make the suggestion to ODOT, but they would have to be willing to pay for it.
He noted that the federal stimulus money was allowing ODOT to expedite its eight-year plan and they might be willing to make that change to the Highway 59 plan.
Ward III Council Member Larry Parham asked if the city could sponsor the change.
Johnson said he would run the numbers and find out how much it might cost.
In other business, the council tabled a resolution to establish a committee to make a recommendation regarding a possible hotel tax ordinance.
“I think we need to give this more thought,” said Ward IV Council Member Gary Trippensee. “The answer was ‘no’ just recently. I think it’s too early to discuss it.”
Parham disagreed. “Only one percent of the population of Grove would be effected by this. I don’t know why it failed. What’s wrong with $200,000 to $300,000 per year to promote tourism? We need to inform the public. We did not inform them properly.”
Ward II Council Member Terry Ryan expressed similar sentiments.
“We need to examine the issues and concerns ahead of time. The public needs to be comfortable with this. I don’t think we should wait to make them comfortable,” Ryan said.
After some discussion, the council voted three-to-two to table the resolution. Trippensee, Mayor Gary Bishop, and At Large Council Member Mike Davenport voted in favor of tabling it. Parham and Ryan cast the two dissenting votes.
The council also voted to apply for Federal Financial-Aid Surface Transportation Program Funds to replace two bridges in town. If received, the grants will pay for 75 percent of the replacement cost.
One of the bridges is located on Main Street between Third and O’Daniel, and the other one is located on O’Daniel in front of the fire station. The total cost for replacing the bridges is approximately $490,000 for one and $320,000 for the other.
Johnson said the city’s 25 percent would be placed in next year’s budget if the city receives the grants.
He noted that both bridges have received poor ratings in recent safety inspections.
Additional business included the acknowledgement of an in kind contribution “by and between” the Grove Healthcare Trust Authority (GHTA) and the Integris Grove General Hospital Foundation.
Johnson said the contributions — one from the hospital and one from the GHTA — will be given to the Grove Municipal Services Authority (GMSA) to fund the replacement of 15,000 feet of pipe which was determined to be inadequate for the new hospital.
During his report, Johnson said the city has received a grant for $30,550, which will fund the expansion of the water spray facility at Grove Rotary Park.
The Grove City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:00 p.m. in Room 5 of the Grove Community Center, 104 West Third Street.