Wellsburg council talks traffic, parks

WELLSBURG – Tuesday’s meeting was a busy one for Wellsburg Council, as it moved to lower the speed limit on Main Street, install playground equipment at a local park and accepted the resignation of Wellsburg’s long-time city clerk.

At the recommendation of the city’s streets and alleys committee, headed by 3rd Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher, council unanimously moved to lower the speed limit on Main Street from 26th to Third streets, from 25 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour.

Fletcher also moved for new speed limit and Children at Play signs to be posed at key areas along the street. He said many residents along the street and side streets have complained of speeding there.

Third Ward Councilman Tom R. Diserio said some Wellsburg police have told him most drivers follow the current speed limit there but appear to be traveling faster because of the street’s narrowness, due in part to the large number of parked vehicles along it.

The change must be formalized through adoption of an ordinance in the future.

In other traffic-related business, City Attorney Bill Cipriani agreed to research the feasibility of the city prohibiting jake brakes on state Route 2 throughout Wellsburg. Formally known as Jacobs engine brakes, they are part of a secondary braking system for large trucks designed to reduce wear and overheating on the primary brakes.

The move was suggested by City Manager Mark Henne, who said he’s received numerous complaints of large trucks disturbing the peace by using the brakes and he’s heard them himself. He stressed truck drivers would be permitted to use them as they enter the city on state Route 27 since the brakes help to slow trucks in hilly areas.

In other business, a tied vote on where to place playground equipment donated by St. John Catholic Church was broken by Mayor Sue Simonetti.

Fourth Ward Council members Charlie Harris and Della Serevicz, 1st Ward Councilman Bruce Hunter and Diserio voted for the playground equipment, which had been used at the former St. John School, to go to the 4th Ward Park.

Second Ward Councilmen Paul T. Billiard and Brian Tennant, 1st Ward Councilman Mike Mitchell and 3rd Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher voted against.

Billiard, who chairs the city’s park and recreation committee, had suggested it go to the 1st Ward Park instead. He said he wants to address vandalism and safety issues at the 4th Ward Park and some new equipment has been purchased for that park.

The city has purchased a new swing set and slide for the park and received a $10,000 grant for a gazebo there. But some development has been delayed while plans are made for the area once occupied by the city’s swimming pool.

Harris agreed the 4th Ward Park has some safety issues, including a need for fencing. But he said it’s been stated more than once the equipment would go to the 4th Ward Park and if that was the donor’s intention, ignoring that wish sends the wrong message to potential future donors.

Simonetti said she hasn’t spoken to church officials recently, but they initially offered to donate the equipment for the 4th Ward Park.

In related business, council authorized Henne to seek bids for street lights at the Betty Carr Recreation Site using a $7,000 Governor’s Community Participation Grant. The city will provide a 10 percent match for the grant.

Henne said there also are plans to install new lights at the 4th Ward Park.

In addition to the natural benefit of providing more visibility, the lights also are intended to deter vandalism and other crime.

Resident Sharon Pavlik asked about a rumor city officials planned to remove trees at the Betty Carr Recreation Site.

Billiard said some dead trees were removed from Central Park and there are some trees with roots pushing up the brick sidewalk at the Betty Carr Recreation Site. But he said there are no plans to remove any trees there at this time.

Council also:

Accepted a letter of resignation from City Clerk Mary Blum, who said after 12 years in the position, “I have come to the conclusion it is time for new blood to take this position. It has been a great honor to serve the city.”

Blum has served with three mayors, five city managers, three city attorneys and numerous council members; overseen many city elections and kept minutes for numerous council meetings.

Council moved to advertise for someone to fill the position until the next regular city election, when it will appear on ballots.

Council agreed to amend an ordinance for the city’s police chief that would allow him to hold a part-time job in addition to the full-time elected position.

Following the meeting, Police Chief Stanley Kins said he didn’t know why the move was made because he isn’t seeking another job and didn’t request it. Kins noted several months ago he asked for a raise but was denied.

If it had been approved, the raise would have gone into effect after this year’s election, when the office was on the ballots.

Henne said the change was suggested in the event Kins or future police chiefs should want to seek additional employment.

Council agreed to remove sidewalks along the Wellsburg Moose Lodge on Main and Ninth streets. Billiard said the Moose Lodge plans to replace the sidewalks and add handicap-accessible curbs.

Henne said the move is in keeping with a policy allowing city crews to remove old sidewalks, based upon their availability, so property owners can assume their responsibility of replacing them.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)