FOLLANSBEE - City Council and officials were questioned on Monday about the replacement of trees that had fallen on East Street early this year, as well as improvements to lighting on the city's south end that could deter crime.
Dale Biesecker, a resident of East Street, asked why the tree replacement project has been delayed, noting they had fallen during strong winds on New Year's Eve.
City officials said residents normally are responsible for the trees in front of their homes, but in this case the trees' roots were exposed because city crews were replacing sidewalks along the streets.
Biesecker also asked when the street's curbs will be painted yellow to indicate no parking, as they were before, and when a "No Parking" sign and sign bearing the street's name will be re-installed.
City Manager John DeStefano said a resident had requested a Norwegian maple for in front of her home. He said a representative of the West Virginia Division of Forestry will be visiting the site today to determine if that's the best type of tree for it.
DeStefano said planting the trees and other work on the street have taken a back seat to sewer line breaks, and the public works department has been shorthanded due to workers retiring or being off due to illness.
"It doesn't make your case any less important, but there have been some things that have come up," he said.
DeStefano said the new trees should be planted by Veterans Day, and Mayor David Velegol Jr. said the city will address Biesecker's other concerns before that.
Resident and business owner Vito "Skip" Cutrone asked about efforts to deter crime, particularly in the south end. Last week Cutrone addressed council about crime in the area, saying his store was broken into by someone using an ax five months ago and several vending machines were broken into on Sept. 2.
He said some street lights in the area are out and a light could be added to a telephone pole in the gravel lot north of his convenience store.
DeStefano said officials with Mon Power have advised the street lights will be repaired in two to three weeks, and he will check on the status of the utility pole in the gravel lot. Cutrone acknowledged the pole is on his property and said he could pay for a light to be added.
He also suggested strict enforcement of the city's curfew for youth, which is 10 p.m. City Police Chief John Schwertfeger said his department has been conducting additional patrols of the area.
In related business, council authorized Schwertfeger to purchase four security cameras that could be posted in various areas at a cost of $2,713. He said cameras in other areas of the city have helped catch juveniles who committed crimes.
Council also approved a resolution from Wheeling-Nisshin Inc. calling for the Follansbee steel firm to make in-lieu-of property tax payments to Brooke County, ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, over a 10-year period.
Approved by the Brooke County Commission, the agreement is in support of a $28 million expansion planned by the steel firm. It doesn't affect property tax currently paid to the county, of which the city receives a portion, or a $1 million addition that will be built for the production of a corrosive-resistant steel coating developed by Nisshin Japan, its parent company.
Council had given verbal support to the agreement last week, saying it would help the steel firm to survive difficult economic times. But it couldn't vote on it until Monday's meeting.