Bluffton sidewalk ordinance advances

By BRIAN LESTER
STAFF WRITER
BLUFFTON — Talk about the village’s sidewalk program continued at Monday’s Bluffton Council meeting, and the second reading to amend the original sidewalk ordinance was passed by a 4-2 vote.
If the amendment is approved, the village will pay for the cost of installing sidewalks in areas it believes need them, which is a sharp contrast to the original plan in which residents would be forced to pay for installing sidewalks on their property.
Residents would still be responsible for repairing and maintaining sidewalks. The amendment is scheduled for a third and final reading by council on May 5.
Several citizens on Monday asked questions about the sidewalk program, and some questioned the need for sidewalks.
Council President Mitchell Kingsley said the sidewalk program goes along with smart growth for a community, making the town walkable. Councilman Joe Selhorst said the amendment is the best route to go to benefit the community as a whole.
“There are a lot of positive aspects, and we are looking at it as an improvement to the community,” Selhorst said. “The original plan caused a lot of battles, but this one is a compromise. We have to look at what is best for the whole community, and we believe this is a positive for it.”
Chamber of Commerce President Fred Steiner told council he believes the program is a good step forward.
“I’m happy these improvements are going to be made,” Steiner said. “I have full confidence in council that they will make the right decision in where we need to put sidewalks and where we don’t need them. I applaud their efforts.”
Separately, installation of a sound system was proposed in the third-floor meeting room in town hall, where council meetings are held. The idea was presented because some people have difficulty hearing at the meetings.
Village Administrator James Mehaffie and Bluffton Police Chief Rick Skilliter obtained quotes for a system and presented the figures to council. Schoolhouse Electronics in Bluffton offered a quote of $7,713 while Custom Audio in Lima gave an estimate of $5,535.
Council took no action, asking Skilliter and Mehaffie to get additional estimates and to see if there are other options for a system.

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