MOUNT VERNON — If the Ohio Department of Natural Resources decides to make repairs to the Knox Cattleman’s Dam, enforcement of billing for the repairs could still come back to the local level.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said Friday in the weekly meeting with the News and city department heads that ODNR visited the dam Wednesday to view areas that need repair. ODNR does not intend to step in on the project right away, and probably will not unless no one else does the repairs, Mavis said.
The city has asked Mount Vernon council to approve a $300,000 draw from the reserve balance fund to address the repairs. It is the city’s intention to recapture the money from the reserve fund through an assessment on property owners in the area of the dam. Of the $300,000, $100,000 would be spent on engineering to identify the repairs and how best to carry them out. The rest would be spent on repairs.
However, if the city does nothing about the dam, ODNR will likely step in and do them. They, too, would assess nearby property owners for the cost of the repairs.
Their process of collection would be to pass delinquent payers of the assessment on to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Mavis said. If the OAG fails to collect, they will pass it down to the local level, with an order through Knox County Common Pleas Court.
The dam needs repair to a stone-filled drainage channel and a weir that is failing. The top of the dam itself may also need some repairs, Mavis said.
Mavis said Wednesday’s meeting with ODNR was “informative” and has convinced him that the repairs need to be carried out.
“I believe a great deal of information will be obtained through the” engineering portion of the project, Mavis said. “It seems clear to me, before anything can be done, that study needs to be completed.”
Council has not voted on whether they will approve the city’s request for the funds. They will hold a public hearing on the issue Aug. 12 at the Station Break from 6-7 p.m.
In other business, Mavis said the city is looking into installing more pickleball courts at Riverside Park. Pickleball players have asked if they can use tennis courts at Memorial Park, but those courts cannot be altered to the perimeters for pickleball due to a previous decision by the city.
The city has gained a tenant at the CA& C Depot with the Knox County Chamber of Commerce moving in a few weeks ago. However, it has lost the ability to open the public restrooms there during the weekend, as to get to the restrooms you have to pass through the lobby, which holds displays and a reception area.
Mavis said there are currently discussions to hire paid, part-time staff for daytime hours on the weekends. The depot is located right off the bike trail, which sees a lot of weekend traffic.
The Newark Road/Dixie Drive waterline project is expected to start next week.
Assistant City Engineer Jason Epley said the project will start on Newark Road. Work will be on the east side of the road, and will not involve excavation inside the roadway. However, traffic interruptions are expected, with one-lane traffic maintained by flaggers.
The line will provide city water service to new customers on Newark Road and Dixie Drive. Customers on the west side of the road will be connected by boring beneath the road.
Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf said a waterline project being prepared for the new 4-H building at the Knox County Fairgrounds may be completed this fall. It will run across Wooster Road, through the old Seventh-day Adventist academy, and hook into the building and camping area above the fairgrounds.
The waterline will also allow the academy’s buildings to be on separate meters. Fire hydrants will also be installed on the old academy campus.
Orndorf further reported that Dixie Drive can expect 80 psi water pressure once the new line is installed. Pressure readings were taken at hydrants in the area to the find projected level. Orndorf said a hydrant at Glen Road and Newark Road was found to be in need of repair while the pressure readings were being taken.
Parks Superintendent Dave Carpenter reported that the tornado siren at Foundation Street is out of commission. The siren’s batteries were found to have been overloaded, and the control board may have been damaged.
Carpenter said the damage may have been caused by a lightning strike. It is not known how long the siren will be out of order.
With college coming back into session over the next few weeks, Carpenter said he will be losing several students who signed on as summer workers. Thus, his department will have openings for fall seasonal workers. The jobs include mowing and tree watering.
The city council chambers have been newly carpeted and repainted.
Repairs to five catch basins damaged by sinkholes were carried out this week, Streets Superintendent Tom Hinkle reported. Of the five, a catch basin on Deer Run Court was rebuilt and four catch basins on Decatur Drive and Taylor Road were resealed.
A section of sidewalk that had risen up in the 800 block of Coshocton Avenue was repaired.