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Harmony Town Council hears U.S. 40 report

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A representative of the engineering firm drawing up plans for the Highway 40 Beautification Project met with the Harmony Town Council last week.

The Harmony Town Council met Nov. 1 at the Van Buren Township Firehouse. Vince Summers from Commonweath Engineers invited the Council to an open house at their new offices on the corner of 11th and Ohio Streets in Terre Haute. Commonwealth has worked with the Council in drawing up plans for the Highway 40 Beautification Project. The grant was not approved last year. Almost no small towns received "T" grants for their projects last year. It is hoped that with some minor tweaking, the grant will be approved in the coming year. INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) will pay 80 percent when and if the grant is approved. New applications are due by the end of January.

Summers explained that he and Council representatives had met with the INDOT representatives at the Rural Affairs Office in Crawfordsville. They left the meeting with 2 1/2 pages of notes on the strengths and possible additions to the current application which is 35 pages in length. He suggested to the Harmony Council that they try to coordinate their goals for the Highway 40 Corridor with those of the National Historic Trails, West Central, Rural Affairs, and Indiana Main Street Committees. If Harmony plans coordinate with the plans of these other community enhancement entities, it should strengthen the application. He suggested that the Council invite the representatives of these organizations to attend the Harmony Town Council meeting in January. In the meantime, Summers asked the group to consider making the trail to the park part of the initial proposal rather than as a future project. He thought it would further the goals of the National Historic Trails project and in turn help Harmony.

The Highway 40 Beautification Project was proposed to enhance the area and to solve some existing problems. There is no continuous sidewalk along the highway. What is available is on only one side and has become very uneven in many areas. New curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and nice rest areas were sought through a grant application submitted last year to the INDoT. It was hoped that the sidewalks would stretch from the Harmony sign at the west to the Harmony sign at the east end of town. The rest areas would each provide a park bench, decorative lighting, landscaping, and an attractive trash receptacle. A welcoming appearance along the main artery of town would help to promote the area and possibly attract new businesses. A cross walk would help those living on the south side to get to the park. Harmony has a reputation for being a nice place to live. Projects like this would further enhance the way of life here in a small town.

The Council continues to be concerned about trees that need to be trimmed in Harmony Park. In early spring, Skelton Tree Service was contacted and had later started to do the work before being called away to another job. In the meantime, the Council had not received Skelton's proof of insurance that is required for those working for the town. Donna Mullenix had contacted Skelton and learned that the business was in the process of getting insurance some months ago but the Council had not received the proper paperwork. Skelton has been extremely busy this summer. Poor Boys was contacted about finishing the work but nothing had been finalized pending information from Skelton. If Poor Boys does the work, they will also repair the hanging doors that are off track on the garage. Repairs require the use of a bucket truck.

Harmony is a beautiful little community but unkempt properties continue to be a perceived problem. The Council spends a great deal of time trying to help neighbors with these problems. No one wants to put up with someone else's trash and stray animals. Many conflicts have been resolved but some have not.

Janice Gooch had checked on who was responsible when property is neglected and is currently rented. The owner is responsible. Even if the property is in bankruptcy, or slated for a sheriff's sale, the owner is still responsible for repair and clean up. Town Attorney Eric Somheil will continue action on these problems.

Another problem that has continued to be voiced at the meetings has been the black diesel smoke from modified pick-up trucks. An article from the Terre Haute Tribune-Star was distributed to everyone in attendance.

Harmony residents were not concerned about normal, needed diesel equipment but were concerned about those trucks where the emission standards had been modified to cause the problem.

Semi trucks have a tall smoke stack to alleviate blowing smoke on nearby shorter vehicles.

The Tribune article stated that the offensive drivers were doing this intentionally and it was producing a health hazard. Apparently nearby drivers experiencing this dangerous, unhealthy, rude behavior are so blinded by black smoke that they literally cannot see to drive. If they have their windows down, they can hardly breathe. Marshall Bob Parr will again be asked to monitor the problem and deal with offenders.

The corner of Elm and Vorhees continues to hold water when there is a heavy rain. Although a storm sewer is located just across the street, the water is not getting to it. The street is higher than the McCoy property and acts as a dam creating a lake in their front yard. The street was recently repaved and the Council had hoped to solve the problem without having to dig up the new pavement. However, equipment to tunnel under the street is cost-prohibitive. It was decided that Bob Parr would be asked to get an estimate cost for solving the problem.

While residents north of U.S. 40 wish they did not have speed bumps, some of those near the Pine Apartments wish they had them to slow down the traffic. There continues to be concern for the safety of the children in that area. It was decided that speed limit signs would be posted near the area to see if that would help the situation. If not, then other measures will have to be taken. The town marshal will be asked to monitor these activities and to check on other speeding motorcycles. He will continue his efforts to tag junk vehicles and alleviate the problems with stray pets. Harmony requires all pets to be penned up or on a leash.

Members attending the meeting were: Janice Gooch, Donna Mullenix, Don McCollister, Elmer Pollard, Leslee McDonald and Attorney Eric Somheil. Absent: Bob Parr.

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