Berne reduces speed limits; 16 street lights set

    Berne City Council wrapped up its legislative agenda for 2011 on Monday evening with a handful of votes on topics ranging from lower speed limits near South Adams School to the selection of an engineering firm to guide the city through upcoming sewer projects.
    Meeting for the final time of the year, the council read for the first time an ordinance setting the speed limit at 20 miles per hour during specified times on Parkway Street, from U.S. 27 to Village Way. The street is the primary access route to South Adams School.
    The reduced speed limits will be in effect daily from 7-8:30 a.m. and from 2:30-3:30 p.m. throughout the school year. Following council's final approval of the ordinance, expected at its first meeting in January, new signs will be erected at each end of Parkway Street to inform drivers of the lower speed limit.
    In related news, city officials reported that 16 new street lights — each sporting 200-watt bulbs — will be added along Parkway Street by the first of the year.
    Also read for the first time by council was an ordinance authorizing the placement of stop signs at two intersections in the city. The new signs will be erected on Forest Ridge Court, at the intersection of Oakwood Trail; and on Oakwood Trail, at the intersection of Lakeview Trail.
    Adopted on its final reading was an ordinance authorizing the vacation of an alley along Harrison Street near the city's clock tower plaza.

    Acting upon the recommendation of a committee appointed by Mayor John Minch, council voted 4-0 (Curtis Wurster was absent) to approve the selection of Commonwealth Engineering as the firm to lead the city through more than $1 million in sanitary sewer improvements.
    The city has received a $960,000 Community Development Block Grant that allows the community to proceed ahead of schedule with sewer separation projects mandated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
    The city, under orders from IDEM to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in the city and to separate storm and sanitary sewer lines, has been aggressive in recent years in its attempt to achieve those mandates.
    Commonwealth was selected over two other bidders for the contract — Wightman Petrie of South Bend, SCO Engineering of Fort Wayne.
    The sewer work will be undertaken in three phases: on Buckeye and Columbia streets; Franklin and Hendricks streets; and at two sanitary sewer lift stations in the city.
    "These projects have all been engineered and are included in our Long Term Control Plan" submitted to and approved by IDEM, Minch said earlier this year. Through negotiations with IDEM, the city has been granted an extension until 2015 to totally eliminate CSOs in the community.
    In a related move, the council approved a request from the Indiana Department of Transportation for sanitary sewer credits to be awarded to the Subway restaurant at the intersection of U.S. 27 and State Route 218. Site preparation for an INDOT construction project at that intersection had revealed that the restaurant was using a septic tank for sanitary sewage disposal and was not tapped in to a sanitary sewer line. The state will install a short sewer extension line during the construction work.
    In other votes, council gave clerk-treasurer Gwen Maller "blanket approval" to execute a series of fund transfers as needed throughout the remainder of the calendar year.
    Also, in a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Mike Poulson opposed, the panel approved a contract with Wessler Engineering for shop inspection services on the city's new water tower. The contract calls for Wessler to be paid $10,000 for the work. Poulson correctly pointed out that council had called for the contract to specify that payment was "not to exceed" $10,000.