3/26/18 meeting transcript

The Churubusco Town Council met on March 26, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. for a special meeting in the Masonic Lodge. Members present were Council Members Mark Pepple, Frank Kessler, and Bruce Johnson; and Clerk- Treasurer, Madalyn Sade-Bartl. Also, in attendance were over fifty area residents (see attached sign-in sheet).


President Kessler called the meeting to order, welcomed visitors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Roll was called by the Clerk-Treasurer. All members were present.


The following is a transcript of the meeting’s proceedings.


Frank Kessler:                    Can I have your attention please? Since this is a special meeting of the town council, since all three members are here, we will have to follow some protocol before we go into the town hall mode.

Frank Kessler:                    First of all, welcome. I’m glad to see such a large crowd here. Pleased to see you here. If you would all please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.

All:                                          I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Frank Kessler:                    Thank you. Roll call please.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Frank Kessler.

Frank Kessler:                    Present.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Bruce Johnson.

Bruce Johnson:                 Present.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Mark Pepple.

Mark Pepple:                     Present.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Madalyn Bartl, Present.

Frank Kessler:                    The state of this will be a town hall format. There will be some information given. There will be time for questions and comments as we go through the agenda. If you want to make a comment or ask a question, we just ask that you be brief and concise so that everybody who would like the opportunity to speak has the opportunity to do so.

Frank Kessler:                    At this point, I will turn it over to Kevin Rothgeb, President of the Chamber of Commerce to lead the discussion.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I’m going to immediately turn it over to Pat McGuire for some opening statements. That’s you big guy.

Pat McGuire:                     What I’d like to do tonight, first I’d like to apologize to the Town Board. A few weeks ago, I addressed you gentleman relative to the issue of the referendum at the school, and I think I said some unkind, untrue words relative to your involvement in the growth of this community.

Pat McGuire:                     I based my comments on information that I’d gotten from somebody else and I should have checked it out a little bit closer, and I should have been more aware of what you have been doing in the past relative to the comprehensive plan, and the work you’ve done with the stellar program.

Pat McGuire:                     Had I known all that, maybe I would have had a different opinion. That being said, the reason I am speaking tonight is I am the chairman of the PAC for a referendum in support of the schools. I want to speak a little bit about that. I’ve got a little handout. I had 15 copies of it made, but I thought I’d throw about six of eight of them away. I don’t have enough, so I’ll pass them out and let you guys share them however you’d like.

Pat McGuire:                     What it does is it explains a little bit about how the school got into the situation it’s in, and what we need to do about it. The reason I think that this meeting tonight, this town hall meeting, is so important to the school that we’re talking about progress and growth and unity and how much needs to be done.

Pat McGuire:                     In 1988, 30 years ago, was the year I left the school board, we had 1,500 students back here. We now have 1,182. The question is does that cost $1.9 million; that drop in enrollment.

Pat McGuire:                     Ironically and coincidentally, I promise you it’s a coincidence, the amount of money that was generated by the referendum was $1.9 million. That tells us that the problem is the loss of those 300 students. Whatever can be accomplished by this group and by the greater group of Churubusco and the outlying community to grow this community, get those kids back in school. Then, our problems will go away.

Pat McGuire:                     The referendum lasts for eight years. It gives us eight years to solve the problem. On the bottom half of the sheet, it talks about contributing factors to the shortfall of this school and all the rest of the schools in the state. If I had my druthers, if I had my way about it, we would change a lot of things that go on in this state and in this country right now relative to the way schools are being funded.

Pat McGuire:                     I don’t understand them. I don’t agree with them. I think they’re wrong. I don’t know if that can be changed here tonight, but you need to be aware of the fact that there are other extenuating circumstances that are creating the problems we have. Now, Frank said keep it short, and that’s it, I’m done.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Thanks Pat. I’d like to welcome everybody to this meeting. I appreciate everybody being here and taking an interest in this topic. For those of you who don’t know me – I don’t know if you can hear me or if I’m talking loud enough. – I’m Kevin Rothgeb. I’m the president of the Chamber of Commerce this year.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I wish that we had this many people come to our pancake breakfast. Next time we have one, I’d like to see everybody out there. I apologize ahead of time for my poor public speaking. This is not my forte, so and the biggest thank you of all to the town.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I do have to say it takes a lot to come out here and do these kind of meetings and as Pat alluded to, you guys have done a tremendous amount of work in this community to advance things, you know, with the Kyler Ridge apartments, the additions beings done in Thresher’s Ridge, the sewer expansion to 375, and the work we’ve done with Main Street and getting that done.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 There’s been a lot of progress made over the last five years in this community. That being said, there’s more work to be done. Referendum or not, either one way we’re going to get some tax funds for the school or not. So, the only real solution to this problem is growth.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 As far as the Chamber sees it, growth is the solution. That’s why I’m here to hopefully work together on some of these things with the town. It all started with a comprehensive plan, and the Chamber being a part of that plan and using it as an outline in how we can move forward.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, tonight’s meeting, we’re going to be covering a couple topics with the town council just to get their input and maybe talk about how these things can get done going forward. The topics we’re going to be covering are annexation, utility services needed for expansion, housing development, economic development, and promotion of the town.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, that being said, I would like to lift something to start. I think this is a great way to start. From page 15 of the Stellar Plan, and in it, it says, “Churubusco has never held a Field of Dreams mentality. Officials realize that just because one builds something, it does not necessarily result in attracting people. However, officials also realize investment spurs investment, and intelligent investment is important in impactful projects that will result in future economic development.”

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, with this plan and the comprehensive plan, we have those outlines, and it is time that we start investing in ourselves, first and foremost. So, after each comment, we’ll open it up to questions, if anybody would have anything to add. That way, we don’t hear me ramble on about things, and we’d like to keep these things to 15-20 minutes per section. So, like I said, keep the comments short and concise, and we’ll move along. Sound good?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 The first area is annexation, and I know that’s not a word that a lot of people like, but annexation is how we grow communities. In the Stellar Communities application and in the comprehensive plan, I would just like to lift a few things from there, and then pitch it back to the town and talk about how we’re advancing on these items.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, in the Stellar Communities application, it mentions the biggest challenge the community currently faces is expansion and annexation. Currently, the town limits on US 33 North stop at John Krieger Drive, and on the southwest side, the limits stop at McCoy Drive.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Annexing both areas are integral components of the comprehensive plan, both for future economic development opportunities and to increase the town’s population. That’s on page 16, if you have a copy.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Northside annexation alone will add an estimated $2.24 million to Churubusco’s assessed value with almost one million being commercial property. Further, developing the area will become easier and more economical for developers and speculators.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 If you refer to the comprehensive plan, once again, annexation is a huge part of our ongoing strategy. If you look at page 13, Churubusco acknowledges to support to sustain the community’s character, must be proactive in anticipation in accommodating huge growth.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 On page 15, the future land map shows that future residential development is projected to occur to the north and northwest of town as well as along North County Road 800E, and then on page 50, the actual working plan of the comprehensive plan, if you look at L 1.6, the town administration is charged to investigate developed and underdeveloped land that is contiguous to corporate limits and otherwise meets statutory requirements for annexation as prescribed in the latest version of Indiana Code, blah, blah, blah, and to activity would be to strategically pursue annexation that’s beneficial to the community, and along with that, there’s utility remonstrances involved.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, the question is, it’s in the plans. What are we doing to get there, and how do we get there, and what is needed from the community? We’re all in this together, and I think that’s a bigger part of this plan. This is not a town council problem. This is a community problem, and we all need to get there together. So, I guess I will go back to you guys for a moment.

Frank Kessler:                    First of all, you need to understand that about three years ago, the state legislature passed some laws that make annexation very much more difficult than it had been in the past.

Frank Kessler:                    Right now, there are two feasible ways to annex. The one is what’s called a supervoluntary annexation and that occurs when all of the landowners within the proposed annexation territory all agree and request to be annexed. Obviously, even that takes some time. There’s a process you have to go through with hearings, notifications, and so forth, but that’s by far the easiest plan.

Frank Kessler:                    The second one is just called a voluntary annexation, and that’s when the majority of landowners within an area are amenable to being annexed, and that takes longer. There are more hearings. There’s more red tape, if you will, involved in getting that done, and that normally will take a year to do.

Frank Kessler:                    To annex an area where the majority of landowners object to being annexed is practically impossible at this point. It’s just not a feasible thing. So, that’s one thing that has stood as a roadblock to it.

Frank Kessler:                    In respect to the area south of town along 33 on the westside, two years ago, I believe or three, we had a study done looking at that. The result of the study was that financially we could not afford to do that. It’s not just a matter of providing utilities in that area, but within two years, the town is bound by law to provide all the same services to that area that currently exist within the current town limits, which include street lighting, street maintenance, storm water handling, all the things that go on with what we do in town.

Frank Kessler:                    When we looked at that, had that study done, it just was not economically feasible for us to annex that area. As far as the north is concerned, it’s been discussed. It really hasn’t moved forward yet because we know that’s not going to be a supervoluntary annexation, and that’s one that’s going to have to take some time, and we also don’t have a developed plan there yet. Gentlemen want to add anything?

Mark Pepple:                     First of all, thanks to the Chamber. I appreciate that. And when you talk about the pancake breakfast, I would love all these people to be at our meetings, too. It might make for a longer meeting, but I’d still love it.

Mark Pepple:                     I think annexation is important. I think we’ve got to be aggressive with it in the areas that make sense, and feasibly make sense. That’s the concern here is, when we’re talking about the school and limited resources and money coming in, we’re tasked with about the same thing, too. The last thing that you all want is your taxes to be increased and that kind of stuff. So, fiscally, we’re trying to be sound and make good money management decisions in that.

Mark Pepple:                     Now, with  that being said, I think some areas in town make very good sense to start annexing and start looking at that process and how that works. Again, once we’re going to really have to look at whether it’s going to be supervoluntary or voluntary in that and how we can move forward with that.

Mark Pepple:                     To the north of town, where possibly there’s some future development there, I think that makes extreme sense there. I’d love to help with the development of it and what we can do and how we can help set in there, and we’ve already done this with Keller’s houses and that stuff, too that we’ve been able to give some tax abatements and that that was really kind of, I guess, forward thinking. A lot of times you don’t see tax abatements given to facilities like that. It’s more driven toward manufacturing and job creation within the community.

Mark Pepple:                     So, that was one of the ways we were able to get them in there, so that forward thinking can also be done with other areas in town. Again, I think it’s important to go to the south, too. I’d love to see us go into the south to get the business park down there, to be able to develop that, to get sewer and water down there, but again that’s a significant outlay of funds that I’m not saying we can’t or there’s not a possibility of going to get, but to sit here and say the town of Churubusco has the money to do that right now, we don’t right now to get that completed, but I’d really love to see … that’s where I’d like to see us focusing on that, and I guess that’s my opinion as far as the thought process there.

Bruce Johnson:                 I’m kind of with Mark on that going to the west side of 33 just makes a lot of sense … I don’t know how many people know, but town limits end at the south end of the Magic Wand. That street there is the cut off for the town limit. Anything south of that on the west side, we don’t have any control over. That’s considered outside of our town limits.

Bruce Johnson:                 When I ran for the office, I wanted to expand it south. Now that we know economically it would be a tight thing to do it, to go even farther south on the east side like taking it out to where Farmers & Merchants, that’s $5 million project to get that out there. We don’t have that type of money.

Bruce Johnson:                 Bit by bit, we’re going a little further, and that’s the way we have to do it is piece by piece, but to take that whole west side and put that in, I think that came in over $3 million, didn’t it Madalyn? To expand the water and sewer?

Madalyn Bartl:                   It was $4.1 to go all the way to 375.

Bruce Johnson:                 All right, $4.1.

Madalyn Bartl:                   On both sides of 375.

Bruce Johnson:                 That just is … we don’t have that type of money right now.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Pardon me. I kind of left a big part of this out. When we bring up these topics, I really want to talk about the … I understand the south side of the town annexation and the immense cost going into this, but when we talk about the school and whether it is the referendum or not, we need 400 kids. Is that correct, about 400 kids?

Pat McGuire:                     300.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Three hundred, so we need more families. So, when we speak of these topics, and I’m sorry, I’d really like to talk about ways that we add new housing, new developments, new family homes. I definitely get the information about the south end of town and the immense cost of that, but once again, that doesn’t bring new families to town, what we need.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, when we talk about annexation, I guess it’s really talking about the undeveloped areas that currently sit north and west of town, and what can be done, more immediacy going forward. It seems to me about the only thing needed with annexation is the turning piece, moving forward.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 And, let’s not forget, and like I said I’m not trying to push or anything. I forgot to mention these in my opening comments that eight years, when we talk about adding residents and houses, eight years is not a very long time. I mean, you mention there are time manners with annexation. That can take a year, two years. By the time new lands are brought into town and somebody decides they want to invest in them, you could be talking three, four years down the road before we have any noticeable change, and at that point, we’re at the end of this referendum, if it does pass, or if it does not pass, we might be at the end of our rope as far as school goes.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Like I said, in these questions, I liken them to the guise of adding new housing to town, not so much new tax basis of existing houses. So, like I said, that is definitely in the two plans as annexing the north area of town and opening that up to some developments. I don’t know if you have a response to that, or if we should open it up. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to jump backwards.

Bruce Johnson:                 No, but that would be like our next feasible step would be to go north because economically, it’s not really feasible to go south. Going north, there is some talk of developing behind Turtle Town Plaza. We’ve got a gentleman who wants to take that and move forward.

Bruce Johnson:                 So, that would be our most feasible and easiest way to go. Like he said, we probably wouldn’t get a super majority for annexation where everybody wants to be annexed, but I think that’s our best bet right now is to go north and that would add all that property, and it would be much easier to do. We wouldn’t have to deal with as many people as going south.

Miles Wilson:                     If there was a block of land, like what is the amount you need to have for annexation to take place?

Frank Kessler:                    First of all, it has to be contiguous with current boundaries, and there’s a standard. It has to be so much common boundary in order for it to qualify, to be annexed, but there is no acreage.

Miles Wilson:                     So, if we were able to … the fear is going too big too fast. Obviously, you need to make steps that you can pay for this thing as you go. That way you’re not kicking the can down the road to pay for it later, but if like would it be feasible to do a 50 to 100 acre area that would be directly potentially connected to the current city limits, or is that not worth the time to do the annexation, if it would be this 100 acre area as supervoluntary?

Frank Kessler:                    If the area qualifies with all of the standards that have to be met, probably 100 acres support how many homes, depending on the size of the lot? Fifty maybe, thereabouts. That probably would be worth looking at.

Frank Kessler:                    Also, there is a development planned for an area west, but the developer and the landowner are still in negotiations there, and we already have a plan in place to move forward with if and when that occurs.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Is that Threshers? Is that what you’re talking about?

Frank Kessler:                    The west, no.

Mark Pepple:                     Not 205.

Frank Kessler:                    No.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Okay, so the west, okay.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Yeah, at this point, I think we can open it for questions. Jeff?

Jeff Schenher:                   Can you tell me where you got the estimate to run that sewer systems valve that’s worth $4.1 million?

Madalyn Bartl:                   And, that was before the 375 extension that we’re doing currently.

Jeff Schenher:                   Does the 375 extension include that $4.1 million dollars?

Madalyn Bartl:                   When we got the estimate, that was in 2015 through our engineer, and that was to hook up Circle Drive, Carlin Court, Orchard Lane and then go down 375 both ways.

Jeff Schenher:                   How many sources of bids did you get?

Frank Kessler:                    We didn’t get bids, Jeffrey. It’s an engineering estimate.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Right, it’s an engineer’s estimate.

Frank Kessler:                    It never went to a bid situation.

Jeff Schenher:                   Did it go to a bid situation?

Frank Kessler:                    No, unless we have an actual project.

Jeff Schenher:                   I’ve got estimates a lot cheaper than that, and if you say it’s going to push the system to go south, there’s a lot more traffic flow that way than there is from 205 north, if you’re looking for business. I mean, it almost triples the traffic flow going south, so if you look at the increased business, south is probably the way to go. If you don’t go south, Huntertown is going to come out and capture some of that. I think if you want to think business, south is the way to go.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Like I said, the $4.1 million dollar bid, that was before we did the 375 extension that we’re doing right now.

Jeff Schenher:                   In my opinion, I think that’s too much.

Madalyn Bartl:                   It also hooked 130-some homes.

Jeff Schenher:                   They’d all have to be hooked at the same time to get the business along 33.

Madalyn Bartl:                   I understand that. I’m just telling you where that bid came from, or where that estimate came from.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Does anyone have anything else they would like to add?

Pat McGuire                       What’s the status of stage four?

Frank Kessler:                    Stage four?

Madalyn Bartl:                   Stage five, Threshers.

Frank Kessler:                    I think 17 out of the 22 are sold.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Yes, yes.

Pat McGuire                       I’m talking about the one past that, off of Blue Lake Road.

Miles Wilson:                     That’s five. That’s stage five. It’s not ready. They’re still trying to buy that land.

Pat McGuire:                     Oh, do you hear that Ron?

Bob Pankop:                      I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, and I’m for everything that’s been said. This town’s got to grow, but the problem is every time you add one acre of hard surface onto a piece of ground, you increase the watershed by 12 times. The county is currently thinking about redoing the Emerick Ditch with a 36-inch tile, which is not near big enough if we’re going to grow.

Bob Pankop:                      It’s always hindsight that this stuff happens, and the Council needs to get onboard and go to the Drainage Board. That either needs to be a five-foot tile or an open ditch through Steve Fry’s clear over to where Bill Green used to own, and you can only put so many retention ponds to hold this water. At some point in time, you’ve got to get rid of it because you have 1156 acres dumping into a 24-inch tile, and that doesn’t count the additional water that’s created by the homes in Thresher’s Ridge.

Bob Pankop                        So, you count the number of acres and the hard surface in Thresher’s Ridge, your 36-inch tile isn’t going to hold what we have right now. So, I mean, it’s just that the county seems to be backwards when they’re looking at this stuff. We’ve got to get on them so that portion because you take all of Rosentrader’s property, and everything that they’re talking about developing. That water goes down the Emerick Ditch.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Thank you. Does anybody have anything else they would like to add to this? Okay, actually that was perfect, because the next thing on the agenda is talking about utility services, so that was a perfect segue and I did not realize that was an issue, and I think that’s a good thing to definitely bring up moving forward.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 There are some other issues that have been addressed in the Stellar Plan and the comprehensive plan regarding utility services. If you look at the situation, I lost the page, but so it’s really about providing water services and fixing some of these existing issues.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, providing water services to the area will allow working opportunities for economic developers as developers can instead tap into the town utilities instead of incurring costs for well drilling.  Annexing and expanding town limits will also become more feasible as utilities are provided to this area.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, once again, if you reference the Stellar plan, on page 20, there is the information on the north side water loop and expansion project summary. That is also continued on page 29, and in the comprehensive plan, these items are also mentioned on page 56 and 57.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Now, it’s my understanding in reading this, not only do we need to complete the dead ends in the loop, the current dead ends in the utility services to increase water pressure and help expansion, but also there’s been an infiltration issue. It’s referenced in the comprehensive plan, and also the Stellar Plan that’s not allowing for that growth to occur either.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 We can’t really push out until that infiltration issue has been addressed, so if you gentleman can speak to what we can do to get these projects underway so we can encourage more development because obviously it sits right in here, we get these things done if we invest in ourselves through whether it’s grants or bonds or whatever. Taking care of the utilities is going to take care of a lot of these issues, and we have a drainage issue that needs to be addressed.

Frank Kessler:                    Regarding the infiltration, yes, we’re well aware of it. We have an ongoing infiltration problem. That’s Jeremy’s number one task. He’s been tasked with completing necessary smoke testing this summer, so we can identify those areas and begin to make some corrections to that.

Frank Kessler:                    The problem with finding all of the areas of infiltration is that part of the system is over 100 years old. Part of it we don’t even know for sure where it is. Part of it ties into the county ditch. There’s a lot of moving parts with that, and like I say, I think Jeremy and his crew think they may have identified a major source in the north part of town, but they have not been able to dig that up to verify it for sure where that major infiltration is.

Frank Kessler:                    Under normal circumstances; dry weather, normal rains; we don’t have a large problem. When we get heavy rains and heavy snow melt, then it does tax the system. So, yes, we understand that it’s a major problem, but it’s being addressed. Anything to add?

Mark Pepple:                     Sure, I think this is an issue that goes on in every town that’s older like this. It’s something that we’re going to have to take care of. I’m not making excuses or anything like that. Obviously, we need to be adept to it and be on top of it and make sure that we’re moving forward with it, but it’s going to be a continual process. We’ll be talking about this down the road.

Mark Pepple:                     Finding all the infiltrations and that kind of stuff and fixing them because a new one will pop up, a new one will pop up, and we’ll fix those and new ones and so forth.

Mark Pepple:                     I think Frank hit the nail on the head. I think we’ve got a very solid plan right now. I think the plant’s running well. I think Bob’s done a phenomenal job. I can’t say enough about what’s happened out there and how he’s running it.

Mark Pepple:                     Obviously, with growth comes more water into the plant, so that’s going be something that we’re going to have to be talking about in the future, too, making sure what we have are plants in the water plant and sewage plant can both take the capacity, so on top of us talking about expansion, we’re also going to be talking about all the equipment we have internally making sure we can take all this expansion down the road, especially when we’re talking about there could be possibly the sewer district coming into the south or something like that could happen feeding into the plant. Right there is some other significant increase into the plant.

Mark Pepple:                     So, we’re going to have to be on top of that. I think we’ve got a pretty good plan in place. I think Jeremy has a pretty good plan in place for the infiltrations, coming this fall. It has to be completed when it’s a little drier out. So, it will have to be summertime, fall time when it’s being completed.

Mark Pepple:                     As far as the loops, I think we’re getting there with those. I think Jeremy has a good plan in place to get those completed. One of them that he’s been talking about that’s been on the book, the north loop there, I think that we’re probably close to completing that. It’s just going to take us a little bit of time here with finances and making sure that we’ve got a lot of projects in place this year.

Mark Pepple:                     What’s happening, and really, I just want to make sure that fiscally, we can complete those projects, get those completed, and then see what we can move out from there. What’s the next project? Can we complete that loop? Can we complete these other projects that we’re talking about?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Is it just a matter of funding? It’s my understanding that if we would have won the Stellar Grant, most of these projects were to be completed, basically shovel ready, within a year. Am I misunderstanding that?

Frank Kessler:                    Actually, Stellar is designed, was designed to have been a four-year program, is what they set it up as. So, no, I don’t think everything in the Stellar program would have been feasible to complete within one year and no, it’s not all funded.

Frank Kessler:                    Water wise, our water system is in good shape. We’ve had plenty of reserve capacity. The wells will put out well more than what we will use anytime in the foreseeable future. The distribution system, we keep working on, adding to, repairing and so forth. Part of it is a function of how much time our personnel have to oversee multiple projects.

Frank Kessler:                    The loops will probably get done. I’m not sure they’ll get done this year, but probably next year, if not. As far as expansion, the capacity is there. We have no problem with water. We also have a fair amount of funds available, so we don’t have to go out and bond for it. We do still have two active utility bonds we’re paying. One on the waste water treatment plant expansion and one on the water system that we upgraded about five years ago.

Bruce Johnson:                 I would like to ask Bob a question. Bob, how much expansion could we take before we have to upgrade again?

Bob Gray:                            If you get rid of the I and I, that plant probably wouldn’t have to be upgraded for another seven, eight years, maybe even longer. It’s all about the I and I. You get rid of the I and I, or at least half of it, it can take a lot of sewage.

Bob Gray:                            Take your downspouts out of the sewer, your drains out of your sewer, that would help a lot.

Bruce Johnson:                 Okay.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Does anybody have anything they would like to add?

Jeff Schenher:                   I do. Could you give the specific number of how many houses or how many utility taps you can have at this rate with this sewer system? I mean if everybody got everything out of the system, I understand that. Without needing to expand, are we over three-fourths capacity, half capacity, what do we have right now?

Bob Gray:                            It matters if it rains.

Jeff Schenher:                   Just a general idea right now because we’re operating on unknowns right now.

Frank Kessler:                    If it doesn’t rain, we run around 37%.

Jeff Schenher:                   Could you bring 400 more houses in? You could. So, you’re looking at that kind of capacity. Wouldn’t it be better to tend towards a business where you wouldn’t have to have as many houses, and build it and they will come. I think if you have annexed out south, you’ve got businesses along there, that would increase the value of the land. You’re looking at it as a cost. I think you should look at it as an investment.

Rodger Hettinger:            The business won’t solve the school problem. That’s the issue, so my thought is that if we have this infiltration from this 100 year old pipe, that should be like the main focus of what should be done to help with the sewer and then working on some kind of housing to get the schools taken care of because without schools, we’re in huge trouble. We’ll die. We will just die.

Rodger Hettinger:            Businesses are great. They want business. I’m in business. I won’t have a business if we don’t have school.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Anybody have anything else they would like to add?

Pat McGuire:                     Yeah, I do.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Pat?

Pat McGuire:                     I’m a little confused. Why is four million dollars too expensive?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 You want a loan for that?

Pat McGuire:                     I want to know.

Mark Pepple:                     Can we get a loan from you then?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Sure.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Kevin said he’ll fund us.

Mark Pepple:                     Kevin, thank you.

Mark Pepple:                     I think we’ve got to remember, we’re dealing with the same thing the school is.

Pat McGuire:                     I know that.

Mark Pepple:                     So, why is the school coming to us wanting to increase the funds coming in?

Pat McGuire:                     But, they’ve got the guts to do that.

Mark Pepple:                     I’m not saying they don’t have the guts to do it, but one thing that we’ve been tasked with is to keep your taxes low, to keep everybody taxes low here. That’s the thing we’re trying to do with that also.

Pat McGuire:                     I understand that.

Mark Pepple:                     I think we can still get these projects done. I think we can still aggressively go at these projects, but to sit here and say we can do all these projects tomorrow and four million dollars is chump change, I’m not sure that we can say that.

Pat McGuire:                     I would be tickled to death if we do one of these projects tomorrow.

Mark Pepple:                     I think we’ve started partially doing projects.

Frank Kessler:                    You need to look at the track record, Pat.

Pat McGuire:                     Huh?

Frank Kessler:                    You need to look at the track record, Pat. Look at what’s changed here in town the last five, six years.

Pat McGuire:                     I know that, Frank. I know that, but we’re almost in crisis mode here, and I think we can’t say this costs too much or we have too much rainwater. Let’s address the issue.

Frank Kessler:                    We are.

Mark Pepple:                     I think we are. That’s why we’re here. We want to be here. We want to address issues, but to sit here and say we’re going to put the town in crisis mode, I’m not. Crisis mode is I’m coming back to you saying, “We don’t have any money.”

Pat McGuire::                    I’ll qualify that. The crisis mode is with the school. It’s not…

Frank Kessler:                    Yeah.

Mark Pepple:                     I think we’ve got to do it hand in hand. I think the school is super important to the community. I think it’s extremely important, just like the town’s important to the school. So, I think we have to do it hand in hand. We have to work together and we have to be aggressive at projects that we can complete, but to sit here and say four million dollars is chump change and we can do it, we can’t right now. We cannot do a project like that and fiscally be sound as a town.

Pat McGuire:                     Can you not do it with the current funds, or would you have to use the bond money?

Frank Kessler:                    It would have to be bond.

Bruce Johnson:                 Yeah.

Frank Kessler:                    It would have to be bond.

Doug Fields:                       With us carrying two bonds already, what’s our payout on those two bonds?

Madalyn Bartl:                   Give me just a second.

Doug Fields:                       Years-wise

Madalyn Bartl:                   The one is up in 2027. The other one is 2023.

Frank Kessler:                    Yeah, one has 11 years, I think.

Doug Fields:                       They’d probably give you a problem with getting another bond on top of those. Our payouts are pretty far down the line.

Frank Kessler:                    It would affect our bond rating.

Madalyn Bartl:                   It would, but it would also affect water rates and sewer rates, too because we do have to have certain reserves with those bonds.

Mark Pepple:                     I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here because I think we have ways to still seek funding. I think we have ways to go out and be aggressive with funding. Obviously, we put a lot of ducks in our basket with Stellar, and we were really aggressively trying to get that designation because I think it would have truly helped the community.

Mark Pepple:                     Madalyn did a tremendous job with that and was really aggressive with that and really pushed that, and obviously we didn’t get the designation, but I still think that we still can be aggressive. Again, Madalyn’s been very aggressive with some of the grant processes out there, and I think we still need to make sure we’re keeping our eyes open, being very aggressive looking at that, and how we can bring those funds into the community.

Mark Pepple:                     Really, that’s our true source of bringing bigger projects into the community, I believe right now, is through the grant process, federally and through the state.

Bruce Johnson:                 Do you have something? Oh, I thought you were raising your hand.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Just one thing. When we say aggressively, what kind of time frame are we looking at aggressively? What does that mean exactly?

Mark Pepple:                     Sure, it’s a valid question. I get it. Timeframe to me, if you’re asking aggressive and looking at grants and that kind of stuff, I think that’s a continual process for us. I’m not saying we’re looking two years down the road, I think that’s a continual process. It’s almost monthly, weekly that Madalyn’s coming up with grants that are coming out, and saying…

Madalyn Bartl:                   Sorry that I like free money.

Mark Pepple:                     No, no, believe me, I think this has been great. I think having that person that’s local within the community that’s aggressively looking at those grants. Aggressive to me is right now. I think that right now is the time to go after that stuff to be able to do these projects like we’ve all been talking about, absolutely.

Frank Kessler:                    Just bear in mind some of the larger grants especially those through OCRA have time restrictions on them. Some of them we’re not able to apply again for, for a seven year period. So, not all of grant sources are available. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but some of our major sources are not available to use right now.

Bruce Johnson:                 And, she does go after whatever we can. You want to talk about aggressive, she’s aggressive.

Mark Pepple:                     Does that answer your question, Kevin?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I guess what I mean, are we talking aggressive means that these projects can be completed in a year? Are we talking two years, three years, four years? Because I mean if they’re needed for expansion, and we’re talking aggressively means three years, we could be at eight years before a house goes up in a new development that’s needed for the community.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I guess aggressively means, and I think that’s kind of what was asked about the money.

Mark Pepple:                     Sure.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Was we’re kind of … the town is doing great. The school is an issue, and why the Chamber is involved is, you know, let’s face it, if something happens with the school, we’re going to lose business. I work at a bank. There’s four of us, unfortunately. I’d like to see a couple go away.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I watch my company consolidate branches in small communities just like this. So, the situation hits home to me, so say if we have the school worst case scenario, school closes or we lose students because of this, we lose citizens. Once again, I’m going to make this a little more personal. It’s very difficult for me to send a wire transfer to another bank to watch a young couple buy another home in another community, and send their kids away from this area when they want to stay and there’s no housing choices, in the amount that they need.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, the issue is if we lose these people and we lose this money … or not the money I should say. If we lose kids, if we lose the school, property values go down. Rodger is right. Businesses are going to go. My branch could be on the chopping block.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Now, if you add another 400 homes or 200 or 100, I’m back in business long term, but we’re all on this teetering basis, and so when we talk about aggressive, unfortunately with the school, we’re on the clock. So, the north side water for instance, we’re not talking $4 million dollars. I understand once we hit the southside, it’s expensive. It’s not what the Chamber is talking about.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 We’re talking about a funding gap of $660,000. That’s not $4 million. There are grants available. Why can we not expedite projects like this, right in the paperwork, that says that this is important for development. This will spur development, this water.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, once again, I promised that I didn’t want this to be a contentious meeting, and now I’m being contentious. I said it’s just we’ve got to add family sized houses. How do we get there sooner rather than later? So, that’s why I asked, “What does aggressively mean, and why can’t we take on projects that are a half a million dollars in range?”

Mark Pepple:                     Since I’m the one … thanks for putting the screws to me, Kevin. I appreciate it. Great. Since I’m the one that’s throwing out aggressive, I’ll talk about this just real quick.

Mark Pepple:                     I think this year, we are going after some projects, or completing some projects that we’ve been after for a while. I think those projects will be completed this year and that kind of stuff.

Mark Pepple:                     Now, when we start talking about infiltration and that kind of stuff, that’s a project that’s going to be completed this year as far as identification and the major infiltrations going after that. I truly believe that that will be completed.

Mark Pepple:                     As far as the north water loop, I think we’re probably talking about that will either be done this fall or probably next year, like Frank said, but I think we’ve also got to sit around the table and let’s be realistic about what you’re talking about with these grants and the projects, and that kind of stuff.

Mark Pepple:                     The grants are great. I love getting money in town and bringing it into the community. I love that to death, but at the same token, every grant comes with a big portion that we have to supply the money to fulfill that grant. So, just because we’re sitting here and saying that we’re bringing in, $500, $600, $700 thousand dollars, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with the cost of the community because there’s a significant cost that comes to the town at that timeframe.

Mark Pepple:                     So, we’re probably fulfilling a lot of these grants at 20 percent cost. So, when you start bringing in these grants, I’m great. I love having the money here. Again, I am the one that loves having that issue. How do we fund this? I love having that issue, but at the end of the day, we do have to find the money and we have to fund those grants that are coming in.

Mark Pepple:                     So, aggressive to me means this year, I think we’ve got a lot of projects on the plate. I think we’ve got a lot of projects on the plate the last couple of years. I think we’re completing those. I think after that water loop, I think that we’re … and this is strictly my opinion, that I’d love to see that we’re working with some type of housing next year or this year in the fall or whatever that’s coming around to the north. I’d really like to see that.

Bruce Johnson:                 Some of the grants we get are 50-50. They’ll give us 50 percent. We have to supply the other 50 percent. Eighty-twenty.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Most are 80-20 or 75-25.

Bruce Johnson:                 Yeah, 75-25. So, we get a million dollar grant, we’re going to have to put up another $250,000 to cover that. Maybe chump change maybe for you, we’ve got a $4 million dollar budget we’re dealing with.

Madalyn Bartl:                   It’s a $1.3 million dollar budget, and then with the utilities, that adds another $1.4ish. So, you’re looking at $2.7 million.

Bruce Johnson:                 Two point seven, okay, $2.7 million budget. That’s what we outlay every year for salaries, our I and I, all this. So, it’s not just, “Great, we’ve got the money,” but like Mark said, it comes at a cost, a lot of it does.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Right, but it’s right here, the north side expansion alone isn’t going to bring in $2.2 million of assessed value into the town. I mean, that’s helping pay for things.

Bruce Johnson:                 That is assessed value. That is money that we have.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 You’re talking more tax money for the town, correct?

Bruce Johnson:                 Yes.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I mean, one million of that is commercial alone, and if we can develop that area, that means even more tax money to pay for things.

Mark Pepple:                     Bring it. I agree. I agree with you.

Frank Kessler:                    You’re making me awful nervous talking like that and being a banker.

Mark Pepple:                     You’re just wanting some loans, aren’t you up there?

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I mean, it says, I mean investment spurs investment. This is the town’s words.

Mark Pepple:                     I agree.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I just…

Mark Pepple:                     I agree with you. I think we’re on the same page. Just remember we don’t have unlimited funds.

Frank Kessler:                    We have to live within our budget.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Does anybody else have anything to add? I know we’re getting a little long on time. Just a few other topics that I wanted to consider. I think in the comprehensive plan, we spent a lot on that expedite just in the matter of time, but in the comprehensive plan, it talks about adding $150 to $175,000 homes. I know that is supposed to be … the comprehensive plan is to be looked at every five years, and like I said, once again, these topics are all around the housing issues and bringing in more residents.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 We are sorely behind in terms of homes of certain sizes in the area. On page 41 of the comp plans, houses above $150,000 in Churubusco represent 6.6 percent of our housing units. Whitley County average is 38 percent. National average is 49 percent. These are the houses that we need to grow our community and bring in families.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 These are the houses that are helping Huntertown to grow their area. So, I mean, the comprehensive plan represents one thing, but it seems like, Thresher’s Ridge has been great, the new additions, but I mean I worked with some realtors to pull up some statistics on that, and the average age of the new area is 60-some years old. That’s not addressing the need for young families, so if we can speak briefly on those needs and if you guys can talk to what you can do to address the housing problem.

Bruce Johnson:                 I think that one of the things that Miles is doing, parks, working at the park. That- families will come in, see this nice park. Look at what happened to Leo when they put in that play area, Leo-Cedarville. I mean, I think that expanded their area quite a bit.

Bruce Johnson:                 Miles said if he had seen the condition of our park when he moved here, he probably wouldn’t have moved here. I think that’s one way that we start to look. Families want places to put their kids, and to have their kids have a good time.

Bruce Johnson:                 The walking, we have the walking path. I mean, there’s a lot done within the town to help draw younger families, and I think it starts with our park, and our park is one of the best in the area. I think what Miles is doing is going to add, people are going to see that and say, “We’ve got a place we can take our kids to. We’ve got a place where we can run.” Younger families, you get more athletic. They want to go out and walk or run, and we’ve got a great facility that they can do that in.

Holli Seabury:                    I totally agree with what you say about the park. I don’t think there’s any doubt that people want to move to Busco. They just don’t have anywhere new. I cannot tell you how many of my friends have said, “I would love to live in Busco. You have no housing developments we could buy a house in. You have nowhere for me to move.”

Holli Seabury:                    People don’t want to do what we did when we move to Busco. I’d be the first one to talk them out of doing that. So, we just need nice new houses that are good size, that are attractive and nice. People with like six, eight, ten kids, would be perfect.

Mark Pepple:                     Sounds like my house five, six years ago.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Can I just bring up something because I’ve been looking up housing statistics in anticipation of updating the comp plan and the 2016 estimates, our median home value is $99,300. That was the median value; 88.8 percent of our houses were valued at $149,900 and under, whereas only 10.3 percent are $150,000 and over.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Just as a comparison, Kevin keeps mentioning Huntertown, and that’s probably where we’re losing the most residents. When people move out of Busco, almost all of them are going to Huntertown; 38.7 percent of their housing stock is valued at $150,000 and over. So, their median home range is $139,000. So, just kind of putting that into perspective.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I think Jeff was … sorry.

Jeff Schenher:                   I wanted to comment on what you said about the parks. It’s nice to have amenities like that. As a real estate agent, I’ve never had anybody ask me about the park, but they ask about the school, and I think we need to back up a little bit on the school system. Like I said, I’m a realtor, and I may not sell much real estate after I express my opinions here.

Jeff Schenher:                   But, the item is the quality of the school, are we getting our money’s worth with the school. Is the school giving us back the money we invest in it? Are we going to invest money in the school and eight years down the road, have the same problems again? I don’t doubt the quality of the teachers that we have here.

Pat McGuire:                     The answer is yes.

Jeff Schenher:                   Well…

Pat McGuire:                     If we don’t do anything…

Jeff Schenher:                   Excuse me, I’m talking.

Pat McGuire:                     I know, but I’m helping, Jeff.

Jeff Schenher:                   I know the teachers back there are giving it their all and the superintendent in there right now has got into a situation that was created for him. All we need to do is make sure we’re not kicking this can down the road and facing the same problem in eight years, and that’s the elephant in the room right now.

Jeff Schenher:                   We want to bring businesses to support our school. We need to make sure that that school is worth saving. Now, I have got no qualms about either way it goes. The school’s not going away. The superintendent says no matter what happens, the school stays, and you’ll have to find different ways to get the money.

Jeff Schenher                    But, I’m not for bringing in taxes for people to have to pay higher sewer bills and have to do the new taxes on the new referendum. What we need to do is try to make sure we’re getting bang for our buck. I’m not sure we’re showing that we’re going to get that in eight years. Go ahead, Pat.

Pat McGuire:                     I didn’t hear your last comment.

Jeff Schenher:                   I’m not sure if we’re going to get that in eight years of higher taxes.

Jeff Schenher:                   We have no guarantee what we’re going to have at the end of eight years.

Pat Stanford:                     I’d like to address your comment. My daughter graduated Busco last year. She had enough school credits that her freshman year in college is taken care of. I think our school system is worth it.

Jeff Schenher:                   I understand people feel like that, but when you look at all the grades and all the tests we’ve been told the tests are wrong, and this is wrong. The reason they’re going to Carroll because they got an A on their test. They’re bringing people in because people want to go to that school because it’s a proven fact that they can deliver.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Hey Jeff! Jeff!

Frank Kessler:                    I think you got that backwards.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Yeah.

Frank Kessler:                    We’ve got 178 students that come to our school from other districts because they want to be here.

Jeff:                                       So where did the 400 people go, Frank?

Madalyn Bartl:                   What’s that?

Jeff Schenher:                   Where did all…

Frank Kessler:                    Look at the demographics for the entire United States. It’s happening everywhere.

Jeff Schenher:                   I’m not talking about the United States. You can show me…

Frank Kessler:                    It’s happening everywhere.

Jeff Schenher:                   I can throw facts and figures at you. We’re losing students here and the bottom line is why?

Madalyn Bartl:                   I think a lot of it has to do with housing.

Jeff Schenher:                   I told you I wasn’t going to sell any more real estate.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Jeff, I appreciate your comments, but this is not … we’re not going to debate the referendum. This is about the Chamber wanting to get together and work at growth plans. So, I mean, this is about looking at our housing situation, looking at annexation and looking at utility issues and some economic development data to promote the town.

Jeff Schenher:                   We’re talking about the elephant in the room, Kevin. You know what I’m talking about.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Well, that helps for the contention.

Doug Fields:                       Speaking of partnerships creating more housing. Any word on Ideal or any other developers with any kind of incentives to bring them into the area.

Frank Kessler:                    Yes.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Do you want me to speak on that? All right.

Doug Fields:                       Can you expand on that?

Madalyn Bartl:                   Ideal is planning another phase in their development. There’s 47 acres that they are planning on developing over the next, probably, five years. They are working on a deal right now with the landowners there. We have met with Ideal and Kevin, he stated a very big problem though with Ideal is that the houses that they’re building are not exactly what people are wanting. The average age of new home buyers in Thresher’s Ridge is … over 2017 and 2018, it was 68. Since 2012, those new home buyers and new home owners, was 65.25.

Bruce Johnson:                 Years old.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Yes, years old. So, it’s almost becoming more of a retirement community rather than…

Doug Fields:                       Have we reached out to others?

Madalyn Bartl:                   We have … I have personally talked to Lancia. I talked to them during the Stellar Communities project, and their biggest thing was we need land and we need to make sure it’s in town because we won’t develop unless we know for a fact that we will have utilities available.

Doug Fields:                       Is the town directly doing what some of the larger landowners in that corridor next to Methodist Church.

Madalyn Bartl:                   I cannot speak to that, so.

Bruce Johnson:                 Well, I talked to Geiger who owns a sizeable lot, and they’re not planning. He made a thing to his father that he was not going to sell it for development.

Doug Fields:                       What about the Resler’s land?

Bruce Johnson:                 That I don’t know about. I just talked to junior is…

Doug Fields:                       I just think we need to be reaching out to these larger landowners and seeing if they’re willing to sell the land to the south so we can further look at Lancia or some of the larger homes.

Brad Millikan:                     Have you worked side by side with Ideal? The newer homes, they turned into villas, and have you guys talked to them about not doing that?

Madalyn Bartl:                   Yes, yes we have.

Brad Millikan:                     And, encouraging the older people to move in there.

Madalyn Bartl:                   We have, and they said they can’t control who moves in and what they choose to build back there.

Frank Kessler:                    Any developer is going to build what they think the market is for their homes. That’s just the way the market works.

Susan Brant:                       I can tell you where some of these younger people are if they’re not at Thresher, because we’re at Ridge. My name is Susan Brant. I moved up here about 25 years ago. I live in Green Township, so I did help to pay for the school but, I’m not in the town.

Susan Brant:                       I had a girl scout troop about 10, 20 years ago, about eight years here in Busco, and I kept track of some of those girls, and a lot of them are living with their folks, and they’ve had kids. I remember when my daughter first went to kindergarten about 1996. She had three different kindergarten teachers because they were surprised at the number of kids that came in that year, over 400 and something, and they had to scramble. Every year until she graduated in ’09, they had to scramble for teachers.

Susan Brant:                       She’s had a kid. My other daughter has had two children. I know several of these other Girl Scouts who are now adults have had children are living with their parents in the basements, in the upstairs, or in garages, apartments over garages. I don’t know if any of you have that situation. I just thought I’d tell you my input on that.

Susan Brant:                       The second thing, I didn’t notice, and maybe I missed it, in the plan. I didn’t notice there’s a utility or even mentioned anything about the internet and internet research because I remember people calling in. There’s a big … I get no internet anymore, and I’ve had computer science programmer, and I love Churubusco. I love Green Township. My kids went there. Honestly, they want their kids to go to school there, and that’s why I’m here tonight because I’m passionate about this. We’ve also focus on the internet and have people have high speed internet.

Susan Brant:                       And just thinking out of the box a little bit… Can the town rent property?

Frank Kessler:                    Sure.

Susan Brant:                       Now, Blue Ridge trailer park is like half empty. Can you rent a mobile home and have them in place by the next school year for low income families?

Madalyn Bartl:                   That’s not…

Susan Brant:                       Even though it’s not in the town.

Frank Kessler:                    Yes, that would be out of the town.

Susan Brant:                       It would be out of town, but you wouldn’t be renting them land. You’d be paying for the land, and renting them the mobile homes. Just trying to think out of the box.

Frank Kessler:                    That would not be looked on fondly by the State Board of Accounts.

Jeff:                                       You want to tell them about how you had a chance to have the internet for $150,000 and we didn’t ? Nobody has the chance to get the internet. Do you remember that two years again when they offered to have cable?

Susan Brant:                       DSL?

Jeff Schenher:                   No. Fiber.

Frank Kessler:                    Are you talking about Frontier?

Jeff Schenher:                   I’m talking about the internet for us.

Frank Kessler:                    Well, Frontier, we had talked with them a couple of years ago, and they were talking that sometime in the future they may put in an exchange in our office down here for they could hook up all the wired network that they have currently have and then speed into fiber which would increase the capacity and the speed. However, they backed out of it.

Jeff Schenher:                   They did?

Frank Kessler:                    And, they backed out of it, and as a matter of fact, right now, they’re at capacity and they’re not taking on any new customers at all. Along that line, we have investigated what some other companies along with Whitley EDC out of finding an alternative source for high speed internet. That is still in the developmental stage, so not something I can talk a lot about, but there’s a possibility of bringing in an independent carrier.

Earlene Klein:                     If Frontier had got competition they’d really do a little bit better. They told me that we were high traffic area. I live right here in Busco, and I said, “I’m paying for internet, and can’t you upgrade?” Then, they told me … the guy that did my internet said, “Oh, you’re not in a high traffic area.”

Pat Ray:                                So, there’s no direct large amount of property that anybody’s willing to sell for development right now. Is that what it is, or it’s just hidden to one builder or one person? Can the town go together and look at multiple builders? Because I’ve talked to several property owners. They don’t want to sell to one guy. They don’t want to sell to me, or they don’t want to sell to this person, but maybe with a little backing with the town. I’m not saying forcing them, but I’m saying backing.

Pat Ray:                                There’s a huge need for it. I’d go in and talk all day long to these people, and they don’t care because I’m just a little pee-on. I’m thinking if the town can get together and start talking to these big people, say, “Hey, we need this. We need these $250,000 homes.” I don’t know if that’s happening. I have no idea. I’ve asked a couple questions to some of the town members, and it’s just, “Well, you can talk to him,” or “You can talk to him.” I’m the low guy, but with that little guy, I can bring another big guy and another big guy and another big guy and another big guy.

Pat Ray:                                I’ve got a lot of builders from Fort Wayne and certain other areas that are interested in building, but it doesn’t do any good because they don’t talk to me. So what I’m asking is the town, can the town come in and start talking, be more vigilant against them. Hey, we need this. That ground is going to sit there and be bare. Schools going to close.

Pat Ray:                                We need somebody bigger than I, multiple people in the town, to go and talk to these people and get these houses built. That’s where we’re at. I mean, you can’t just plan on like Ideal doing 40-something homes. What’s that? Half of them retirement people or more. They didn’t bring any money to the school.

Pat Ray:                                The big issue here is money to the school because without the school, we’re all going to close down.

Crowd member:               Sixty year old people pay taxes, too.

Pat Ray:                                Absolutely. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying what the school needs, it’s not about the tax money, because trust me I’ve been pushing for retirement communities. Keller Development is doing retirement, but it’s not near big enough. We need 300, 400.

Madalyn Bartl:                   The issue with the school system is that enrollment is what is going to generate more funds.

Pat Ray:                                That’s what the Chamber’s here. I’m just asking if there’s an ability for the town to go and ask these people instead of individuals.

Bruce Johnson:                 Talk to Lancia, talk to Granite Ridge, talk to other…

Pat Ray:                                No, no, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking the town to talk to the property owners because Lancia’s only going to build a certain house in this town. I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t buy a Lancia house, plain and simple, and there’s a lot of people that don’t like the $150,000 Lancia house, but they sure would like the $350,000 J&K Construction house.

Bruce Johnson:                 Or Magoo’s or something like that.

Pat Ray:                                Or somebody that’s bringing more value, more children in to the school, and that’s what we need.

Sarah Conrow:                  Your turn.

Dick Conrow:                     I’ve kept my mouth shut long enough. First of all, my condolences to you, the Town Board, you guys have to all be in pain. You’re in agreement on one thing. You had a very good turnout here in tonight, and the reason is you threatened everybody’s pocket book.

Dick Conrow:                     You forget about our consensuses, this community not just the town board, not just the chamber of commerce, not the school system has been for the last 40 years complacent if you will, and you’re dealing with the results of it now.

Dick Conrow:                     There’s no silver bullets. Nobody is going to pull a lever to make this go away, and you’re going to break it down, just bring in more families, just bring in new housing, and you’re saying that you can’t support the existing housing with the infrastructure for the sewage. I agree with you. That makes sense to me.

Dick Conrow:                     Personally, we own 35 percent of the downtown properties. I’m struggling right now with the best use of those properties for the benefit of the town. No one has come to talk to me, and all of a sudden I hear because the school system is threatened, we’ve got to address it.

Dick Conrow:                     Well, the horse is out of the barn because you’ve really got your work cut out for you. You’re going to have to break it down. You’re telling it’s drainage, infrastructure, that’s an issue. Use of property, that’s an issue. New families, that’s an issue. Is there anybody in here smart enough able to deal with it all at one time?

Dick Conrow:                     So, you better break it down and start passing this thing out to the individuals will be able to handle it. The problem with this town too is if everyone just accused, sometimes rightfully so, a personal gain issues.

Dick Conrow:                     Now, if you have kids in school, that’s primary in your mind. Then, I hear Churubusco called a sleeping community for retirement people, so it all depends on who’s doing the talking. Again, there’s no silver bullets, but there’s a lot of issues.

Dick Conrow:                     Basically, this comprehensive plan thing has more data and babbling then there is action. That’s what you’re lacking is action. Anything by itself isn’t going to do it for you. One issue take care of the drainage doesn’t take care of it. To bring families in, you can’t even afford them.

Dick Conrow:                     When you can’t furnish sewer to a certain drive, and you want to bring in 400 new families, and the end of it all, somewhere, some landowner is going to bless you with a nice price for the property. The bank is going to loan the money. The realtor is going to sell the properties, and our town is going to foot the bill. Hey, it’s called growth. It’s all part of it, but you better start breaking the thing down and becoming aggressive.

Dick Conrow:                     Again, when 30 percent of your downtown infrastructure is lying vacant and you want to bring in 400 families, think about it.

Bruce Johnson:                 Well, maybe one of those families would be an entrepreneur and open a business.

Dick Conrow:                     It’s all got to happen together.

Bruce Johnson:                 I understand.

Dick Conrow:                     You’ve got to bring it together, but you can’t be asleep for 40 years and then all of a sudden say, “Wow, we’ve got to get aggressive.” Amazing. I think we’d have an agreement on that.

Sarah Conrow:                  Forty years ago.

Dick Conrow:                     On annexation, there’s a certain party in this room that came to me one time and says, “How do we do that?” I said, “Well, you apply for annexation, and because this very, very unique and actually helps not only the town, but the landowners, and it brings about what you’re talking about her tonight, growth. That’s a voluntary annexation thing.

Dick Conrow:                     Annexation is looked at normally as an adversarial situation, where you can actually do what you’re all talking about. It would actually be a benefit for the town, but every one of these issues are prevalent to themselves, but you have to have it all together. I think we can speak properly on that because shit, we’re known as a town fix up people, right? People forget when the garbage trucks were parked down there at Brevin’s, right?

Dick Conrow:                     I was told when we tore down the old dairy that there went a landmark. I thought, “My god.”

Sarah Conrow:                  Before we tore down the H and O.

Dick Conrow:                     We’re talking about saving the school system, and we have senior housing moving in, right? Just another example of it’s all about working together, and you feel there that there is eyes on you. I’ve sat up there in a chair myself. You ain’t got any magic bullets. You’ve got a hell of a hard job, but…

Sarah Conrow:                  Hats off to you.

Dick Conrow:                     You’ve got to break it down, Kevin, I would say. Start passing it out as far as energy, put some more action plan rather than we ought to, we ought to, we ought to. My 20 minutes is up.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Thank you.

Madalyn Bartl:                   So, what are you signing up for Dick?

Dick Conrow:                     Believe me, it’s tough to want to help and not get involved. How do you do that?

Miles Wilson:                     I guess when we talked about creating this meeting, at no point did I ever envision or think this should be three on the committee. We talked about this and we said this is a community issue, and really I guess my question is taking into consideration what Dick has said, what Bob said about the drainage and about the issues with the infiltration, those things, what as a community can we do to support the three of you to help get the momentum going in the direction we need to, to achieve these different goals?

Miles Wilson                      Instead of it being an attack session on you three, help us know what we can do to help you. What is that? Is that creating conversations that we need to have with landowners? Is that us … who do we need to pick and yell at to expand the ditch? I know nothing about this ditch. Bob, thank you for bringing that up. I do funerals.

Miles Wilson                      So, that’s where all the expertise and the people in this room come together and make these problems solved instead of it being on three people because that’s not realistic, and that’s not fair. As a community, we created these issues, so how as a community can we fix these issues, and how can we support the town council?

Sara Conrow:                     In less than 40 years.

Miles Wilson                      Shooting for like eight, give or take, or at least have that momentum going.

Bob Pankop:                      I wasn’t trying to point finger at nobody at this ditch deal, but a individual is not going to go in there and change their mind, but the Chamber goes in, the town board goes in there. Let’s look at future growth. We don’t feel this is adequate to do what we have to do to save Churubusco.

Miles Wilson                      That is what I’m talking about. That is the way that we as a group can get things going, but it’s going to take people pointing out things that, yes, Bob, I never thought in an 100 years about what the watershed of a house is. That’s not my expertise. That’s where I need people like you to say, “Hey, Miles, Pump the breaks. We’ve got to fix this,” or, “Hey town, before we get moving too fast, be aware.” That’s where us as a combined effort fix things instead of just being on one or two or three people.

Miles Wilson                      So, that needs to be like a one, and then a 1A… what’s our next step. So, what can we as a community do? Like that’s where we really need feedback from you guys as far as what you’ve seen what you know we need to do, how do we move this thing forward? We’ve got the group. Now, we need the direction.

Sara Conrow:                     Everybody has to work together. You need a bunch of people to get together and say, “Hey, let’s all get together and address the drainage issue. It’s like you say if you have all these houses, what are you going to do with the water? Don’t dump it on me. Nobody wants it on them. Not in my backyard.

Bruce Johnson:                 You’ve got a nice pond back there.

Sara Conrow:                     But, it’s like everybody wants, but they don’t want it in their backyard.

Dick Conrow:                     Aggressiveness can be no one talks to anybody, and then all of a sudden, I find out by the newspaper that we sold the library building.

Madalyn Bartl:                   Oh… Don’t worry… I didn’t know anything about it either.

Sara Conrow:                     But Dick’s right… you’ve got to have everything. You have to have everything. I am normally from Fort Wayne, where I was born, but I lived here for almost 40 years, and I sometimes get aggravated because I think, “Let’s go out to eat. Oh where are we going to go?” We have one restaurant, but you know, I think so you have to have everything.

Sara Conrow:                     You have to have things that people want to do. I don’t care if it’s a bowling alley. I don’t care what it is, but you’ve got to have stuff people to do or they will move to Huntertown because Huntertown is growing. Huntertown is close to Fort Wayne.

Dick Conrow:                     Be quiet. You’re going to be volunteering for something.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I think those comments are great, and to kind of wrap up, there were two other things, but I think they blend definitely into what Dick, Sara, and Miles said. When we talk about economic development and promotion of the town, those last segments were us asking the town for what we can do to help with those issues, but I think the further reaching is what they said. We’ve all got to work together.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 That’s where we wanted to really leave this from the Chamber is that we want to work together. We want to help economic development. We want to help promote the town. We want to work with the town council to get some of these things done.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 So, I guess actual steps is I guess you guys are going to be seeing us more often at the town council meetings.

Bruce Johnson:                 I would love it.

Mark Pepple:                     Good, good.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I think and create some working plans together to help accomplish some of these goals here. You’re only three gentlemen, and we have a whole town here. We can move forward on things.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 I know we put you on the spot tonight. That wasn’t necessarily the intention. I didn’t mean to shut you down, Jeff, but I think this was great way for a community to come together and talk about some issues that are happening and conversations behind the scenes, and now that we’re having them out in public. So, I think that was great, and I will kick it back to the town and thank you for all being here.

Bruce Johnson:                 First and third Wednesday of every month, come see us. Town hall, like I said. We’ve got a lot of voices here and the more input we can get, the better we can react to it and get things done. So, I’d like to see more of you. If we have to move it out of the town hall, great.

Madalyn Bartl:                   It’d be fantastic.

Bruce Johnson:                 Maybe we can just take a little walk down the hill and come back here again.

Kevin Rothgeb:                 Only if you eat pancakes.

Bruce Johnson:                 Okay. I’ve been here grabbing pancakes.

Earlene Klein:                     I would just like to say I think Dick with C&A Tool has done more for our town than anybody in this room. He is really … I lived here most of my life, and it’s really helped make our town.

Rob Marr:                            I’d like to make a quick comment for Dick and Sara. First of all, understand that yes, C&A Tool has changed, but our new owner for participation of what we’re doing today want to double our business, double. That’s a big double. We’re struggling like everybody else. We’re trying to hire the right group of people to come in and continue our growth. That will continue.

Rob Marr:                            I’m going to take exception to you because you started out this meeting to say that no one had in Churubusco had a build it and they will come mentality. When these two people have lived it for 50 years. Our buildings and 90 percent of our equipment did not have a job for an of it when it was purchased. So, Dick, you’re absolutely right. You’ve got to break this up into its foundations.

Rob Marr:                            Infrastructure is a big deal, and infrastructure is multiple items. Yeah, it’s drainage. Yeah, it’s sewers. Yes, it’s power. Yes, it’s light.

Sara Conrow:                     And internet.

Rob Marr:                            And, internet, quality of life, activity, support. It all has to come together. I’m sorry to say we had the same conversation in meetings 25 years ago. So, you’ve got a strong foundation.

Frank Kessler:                    All right, I’d like to thank John Myer from Economic Development Corporation for coming out, but we didn’t get to his area of expertise in economic development, but there are some things that are being done there that will be a joint venture between the town, Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce, and the EDC to help take care of some of our economic development issues.

Frank Kessler:                    As far as promotion, you guys are the best promotion we’ve got. Tell people that you come in contact with what a great community we have, and that will spread the word faster than any media or newspaper ad. Does council have any other comments on those?

Mark Pepple:                     No, I’ve just got to take care of the bleeding from Kevin. I guess my thoughts about this meeting … I’ll keep it short. My thoughts about the meeting is I’ll be disappointed if we walk away from this meeting and nothing happens. That’s my disappointment about this.

Mark Pepple:                     I think there’s been some … all of you have brought great ideas, great thought processes, and I think this is what we needed as a community. I think this is probably kind of awakened the sleeping giant as you say. I think now is the time to not kick that can down the road and make sure we’re filling the can right now.

Miles Wilson:                     If possible, can we not have this conversation in 40 years.

Mark Pepple:                     Oh yeah.

Frank Kessler:                    Along those lines, if you have an idea, please step forward and get your comments and your ideas to us. Meanwhile, we’ll looking forward to working together with Chamber and EDC and so many other groups and moving some of these agendas along.

Bruce Johnson:                 If you want to talk to any one of us, I mean we’re usually together first and third Wednesday of the month, but if you see us out on the street, you say, “Hey, I’ve got an idea.” Let us know. I’ll bring it up to the other two gentlemen. They’ll bring it up to … we need to know what you guys are thinking. If you’re not there, we don’t know.

Bruce Johnson:                 So, I want to hear what you guys have to say, not just at the first and third, but if you come up with an idea, we’re open. I mean, I live right on Main Street, 420 Main, knock on my door. My dogs will alert me that you’re there.

Bruce Johnson:                 But, let us know. We don’t read minds. If you’ve got a thought, we’ve got to hear it. That’s what I’ve got to say.

Madalyn Bartl:                   And the school was brought up a lot tonight. I think this interest in what’s going on with the town, the sleeping giant was awoken because of the school issues. So, just on behalf of the PAC, we do have a very important vote coming up on May 8th, so make sure that you guys actually go out and vote, and I’m not going to tell you which way to vote, but you know, just get out there and vote, and if you’re not already registered, you do have until April 8th to register, April 7th, no it’s April … anyway, you have until April 7th or 8th to register.

Frank Kessler:                    Just one last thing, everybody needs to know that two of these seats are going to be available January 1st. Applicants need to apply. With that, we’re adjourned.

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