Buchanan commission approves two beautification projects

BUCHANAN – Beautifying the city was the ultimate goal of two actions taken by the Buchanan City Commission this week. Commissioners approved purchasing equipment to aid in the planting of more trees around the city and also spending money to restripe a section of Red Bud Trail to add bike lanes and other amenities.

Community Development Director Rich Murphy said the North Red Bud Trail restriping is a direct recommendation from the city’s recent collaboration with Andrews University students. The restriping project is expected to cost $46,000 for the section of the street from Third Street on the south to Richards Street on the north.

Murphy described the work as putting the street on a “road diet” by adding bike lanes and on-street parking on the east side of the road. The speed limit won’t change but the lane changes will serve to naturally slow traffic.

“This allows for flexibility, slower traffic speeds and more walkability,” he said.

“By doing this, we’re sending a strong message that we’re action oriented and making a commitment to place making and making non-motorized travel important,” he added. “We’re making that connection from downtown to the river. … I think this is a big bang for the buck project and one that the public will look favorably on.”

He said new pavement painting, signage and education will be part of the project to inform the public about the upcoming changes, including the narrowing of the street from four to two lanes in that area.

While some commissioners questioned the cost of the project, everyone said they liked the concept.

“I’m all for it,” Mayor Sean Denison said. “It’s a great way to show we’re working toward some of the Andrews projects. … I think this will be a project that’s very visible and transformative for the city.”

City Manager Heather Grace said part of the money for the project will come from the street budget and will help the city meet state goals of spending street funds on non-motorized transportation.

“This would prove helpful,” she said.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a Caterpillar auger and bits at a cost of $6,246.40 for use by the street department. Interim Public Works Director Mike Baker said the Caterpillar equipment will fit onto the machinery the city already owns.

Although it will have other uses in the city, the impetus for getting the auger is the commitment the city is making with the Buchanan Tree Friends to plant trees in the city. The group’s goal is to plant 100 trees a year for four years. That effort is expected to start this fall.

“If we’re planning on planting that many trees, it makes sense to own it (the auger),” Denison said. “It’s a waste of time to run out and rent it each time.”

Denison noted that the city has received funds from American Electric Power for tree replacement.

“We have money from AEP, this is a no brainer,” he said. “We owe it to the tree friends to get this.”

In other action:

  • Commissioners set a public hearing on the new 2021-22 city budget for 7 p.m. Monday, June 28 prior to that night’s commission meeting. That meeting will be virtual.
  • Commissioners approved a $32,000 change order to the city’s wastewater treatment plant project to allow for the construction of a septage receiving station. The move will allow the city to gain extra revenue by excepting sewage from outside haulers to use the plant’s excess capacity.
  • Commissioners made a number of board appointments and renewals. Dan Vigansky was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals and to the Buchanan Area Recreation Board for new terms. Jennifer Popielski was appointed to BARB. Michael Rowland and Joseph Paolucci were appointed to the Design Review Committee.
  • Commissioners committed to donating $5,000 a year for two years to the McCoy’s Creek Trail Expansion Project. The project will extend the trail from Schirmer Parkway out River Street to Walton Road.
  • Commissioners approved a new contract with police officers. Officers will get a three percent annual wage hike, the addition of Veterans Day as a paid holiday and an increase in their boot allowance.
  • Commissioners renewed marijuana permits for Walpole Limited Craft Market on Carrol Street for a microbusiness and for Michicanna Pharm LLC on Post Road for medical grower and medical processing.
  • Commissioners agreed to have the city of Niles take over operation of the Buchanan Dial-A-Ride transit system. The service is expected to stay the same or even expand at the same price.

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