Follansbee talks water leak, ice rink

FOLLANSBEE – As the temperatures fell, ice was a recurring topic, in both negative and positive ways, at Monday’s Follansbee Council meeting.

Resident Mitch Grishkevich told council water believed to be flowing from beneath a house at 850 Gilbert Ave., has frozen, causing people to fall. He added he’s concerned about vehicles skidding there.

Grishkevich came to council about the matter a few months ago, saying the water was flowing over the sidewalk in front of his home.

City Manager John DeStefano said city crews dug a path to divert the water into a nearby storm drain, but a more permanent resolution has been blocked by efforts to gain access to the house.

He said crews have dug for broken water lines around the property and found nothing, leading him and others to believe the source is beneath the house.

DeStefano said though a man has been seen entering and leaving the home, no one answers the door when city officials knock and the house actually is owned by an Evansville, Ind., bank.

He said a representative of the bank has told him “they will do whatever they need to do to get us in there” but the bank hasn’t acted yet.

Second Ward Councilman Dave Secrist noted he suggested the city take legal action, noting it could withdraw if the matter is resolved before it’s heard in court.

He and other council members said the situation has gone on too long and expressed concerns about someone getting hurt.

City Attorney Michael Gaudio said he plans to take action through the city’s municipal court, but the matter might be resolved more quickly by approaching the man living in the house.

Grishkevich said he’s spoken to the man but doesn’t know his name.

In other business, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro asked if the city’s portable ice skating rink will be set up this year.

Secrist said the rink’s liner was damaged last year. He asked about whether it can be used, the cost to replace it and whether it is well used.

The city’s first portable rink was funded with a grant from C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. in 2009 but council decided to replace it with a larger one that cost the city about $4,945 in 2010.

Several council members said the rink’s location could be more accessible. Last year it was on the Blue Wave football field north of the Rite Aid drugstore.

Before that, it was below the city’s softball field near Follansbee Middle School. While the area was well lit, work had to be done to make it level.

Mahan Park had been suggested but city officials suggested stakes would have to be driven into the basketball court to support the rink.

Follansbee Fire Chief Larry Rea noted Wellsburg’s own portable ice rink has been set up on a basketball court without driving stakes into the court. DeStefano agreed to approach Wellsburg officials about how the rink is secured.

While winter was the focus of much of the meeting, council heard from a group with summer plans.

Joe Douglas, a member of Open Door Baptist Church, has asked to rent the city’s swimming pool from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on five days in August. The two hours have been designated for pool rentals in the past.

DeStefano said the city normally doesn’t accept pool reservations until May and encouraged him to contact the city then. He said park officials then should have the schedule for the Follansbee Swim Team, which holds meets there, but they normally are in June and July.

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