MOUNT VERNON — With the city’s jet/vac truck out of commission, repairs to water lines in Mount Vernon are taking longer and are more troublesome.
Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf said a water line repair in 700 block of Coshocton Avenue Friday resulted in shutting off water to two customers and a boil advisory issued for the area. To get to the line, crews had to excavate with a backhoe; before digging, other utility lines had to be located and marked.
Doing repairs with the jet/vac truck is much simpler. The jet can excavate straight down using a stream of high-pressure water. If it comes to a line, the jet can go around it; once to the problem, the waterline can usually be kept under pressure during repair and a boil advisory can be avoided.
The truck, which is 19 years old, has been out for repairs for several weeks. Orndorf said he hopes to replace the truck within the next five years. A new truck costs around $350,000 – $375,000, Orndorf said.
Orndorf further explained how billing of a stormwater utility fee will be handled. Rather than attach the utility fee to water and sewer bills, the property owner may be billed directly.
Billing the property owner directly would allow the city to collect delinquent fees. Under the current draft of the stormwater utility, the only mechanism for collecting unpaid fees is through attaching a lien to property taxes.
As the draft stands, renters who pay the water bill could decide not to pay the utility fee and there would be no way to collect – you can’t attach a lien if someone doesn’t own property.
Orndorf said his department is in the process of figuring out how the billing will be handled.
Parks and Building and Grounds
Watering bags will be removed from trees planted by the Shade Tree Commission, Parks and Building and Grounds Superintendent Dave Carpenter said. The bags will be cleaned and stored for next year, to be used on trees planted this year.
Carpenter said the bags go around the new plantings for one season. The bags are filled through a tree watering program.
Carpenter noted that while saplings can thrive without the help of water bags, it greatly improves their chances of survival.
The final concrete pour for parking spaces at Memorial Park for the Harmony Playground was finished on Thursday. The spaces will be mostly reserved for use by the handicapped, Carpenter said.
The parking was installed by the Knox County Career Center Building Trades class, funded through a private donation.
Leaf collection may take a little longer this year, due to a shortage of leaf rakers that work with city crews.
Streets Superintendent Tom Hinkle said despite his department’s best efforts, including advertisements, the city was only able to hire three rakers. The optimal number is 12 – four for each leaf collection crew — but at least nine are needed to keep things moving along at a good pace, Hinkle said.
Three parks department employees will be assisting with the raking, which brings the total number of rakers to six. That means there will only be two for each crew.
The rakers stay ahead of the leaf collection equipment, raking the leaves into rows.
The three crews consist of two trucks, the leaf vac, and the rakers. Leaf collection is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 4, Hinkle said, but crews may start the week before to test the equipment and go after larger leaf piles.
Hinkle further reported that work repairing the shoulders of Eastern Star Road were mostly completed this week.
The base under the shoulders of the road was crumbling and needed asphalt and berm repair.
Some of the asphalt ground out from the road was used as fill.
City Engineer Brian Ball reported that the Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge is scheduled to be completely closed by ODOT Nov. 4-6 as new beams are being set. The bridge has been maintaining one-lane traffic throughout construction.
Ball further reported that the Dixie Drive portion of the Dixie Drive/Newark Road waterline project has been completed. The line should be tested next week.
Mayor Richard Mavis has suggested weekly recycling pick-up be required for all trash haulers operating in the city in newly-amended city ordinances. Mavis has also amended the trash hauler ordinances to state that all trash haulers must provide recycling as part of their residential service packages; the ordinance will be presented to the city council at their next meeting.