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Paden City Council Discuss Busy Agenda

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Apr 14, 2021

Paden City Common Council met in regular session on Monday, April 5, 2021 at 7 PM in the council chambers addressing a busy agenda. Councilman Bob Kendall and Steve Kastigar were absent.

Among the many items discussed were the water projects, the slip repair at the south tank site, renting a street sweeper, sewer upgrade, and questions about how the Federal Covid stimulus dollars awarded to the city could be spent and the city’s expected designation by the EPA to become a Superfund Site in August.

Following the approval of the minutes from the March 1, regular council meeting and the March 8, special meeting, Mayor Casteel addressed the council with his concern. The Mayor shared his concern about some of the neighborhoods in the city starting to look bad. Police Chief Anthony Lauer stated his department has been sending out warning letters. The first letter is asking the property owner to take responsibility for cleaning up the property. If ignored, a second letter will follow. After three warnings, and still no action, citations could be issued.

Chief Lauer also approached council regarding the upcoming need to replace police cruisers. The chief explained two of his vehicles are over 10 years old and starting to show their age. He also requested permission, and council approved, to begin to advertise for a second police clerk at the same rate of pay as the current clerk.

Public Works Superintendent, Josh Billiter, requested a street sweeper be rented at a cost of $3,750 per week to begin cleaning the streets. He said he would only need the sweeper for one week. Council approved the request.

A question was asked by council wondering how the stimulus money the city will receive is going to be spent. Mayor Casteel explained, “There are guidelines from Charleston outlining the use of the money.” He also shared the guidelines have not been handed down as of yet, but his belief is it will be used for infrastructure including sewer, water, broadband, etc. Mayor Casteel also cautioned the funds could not be used to aid in lowering city fees.

Steptoe and Johnson Attorney, John Stump reported to council that the water project is now expected to cost $4.8 million down from the original estimated cost of $5.8 million. The city will borrow 4.8 million from the USDA with a 40 year term and a fixed 1.5 percent interest rate.

The old block building on the corner across from the city building is falling apart and residents near the property previously spoke to council expressing their concerns. Mainly they said the bricks are beginning to fall out towards the street and there is suspicious activity occurring inside the building. Council responded saying the city’s lack of a building inspector is the sticking point. They said they would look into possibly sharing a building inspector with other municipalities to advance the demolition. Also they need to identify the owner, as it has changed hands.

Thrasher Engineering reported to counsel that the water project is moving forward and bids were opened. They are recommending two contractors, Stone Gate for the waterlines and valves and Mid Atlantic Tank for the water tanks. A per-construction meeting is set for May 4.

The slip repair work at the south tank site is underway. The city has also made application for grant funding for the sewer project, but is waiting on results of the grant awards.

As a continuation of the process to clean-up the contamination from the former Band Box Dry Cleaners to the town’s water supply, the EPA is expected to announce the community will be designated as a Federal Superfund Site in August. Connor O’Loughlin, site assessment manager with the EPA, explained they have drilled test sites at the other two former dry cleaner locations in town, and determined the contamination came from the now closed Band Box Cleaners. O’Loughlin assured the council members the high school and elementary buildings are fine. During the site inspection the air quality in the school buildings met all ecologically and human health criteria. The area under the high school building is different, but fortunately the ground water is very deep and the building’s slab prevents vapors from entering.

Mayor Castel explained once Paden City receives Superfund designation, the EPA will come in with a plan of attack and funding on how to clean it up. In all the project cost is expected to be between $7 million and $10 million over several years.

Finally on April 21 at 5 o’clock the special meeting will be held for Lay the Levy, which allows the city to continue with the budget that they have submitted to the state for approval.

Also approved was a baseball parade on Saturday, April 24 at 10 AM. The next scheduled meeting of the Common Council of Paden City is May 3, 2021 in the Council Chambers.