City’s engineer wants ‘process’ followed in land acquisition by Fair Association

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 11/27/19

With no apparent opposition by Parks Commission members to a creating a haul road connecting Olive Street to the Memorial Park arena area, which would bisect a wooded walking trail, it appears the …

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City’s engineer wants ‘process’ followed in land acquisition by Fair Association

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With no apparent opposition by Parks Commission members to a creating a haul road connecting Olive Street to the Memorial Park arena area, which would bisect a wooded walking trail, it appears the project will receive approval.

The city’s contracted engineer just wants to do it correctly.

Hernandez told a group of Fair Association members, city elected officials, appointed Parks Commission members, and directors of the parks and street/water departments during an informal meeting held Nov. 8 he wanted to make sure the process of granting the easement was properly documented “just so people can’t say you received preferential treatment.”

Hernandez set a timetable for having a survey completed and a legal description of the proposed easement drawn up.

He suggested they enter into a “gentlemen’s agreement, a lady’s agreement, a people’s agreement,” noting the presence of Dana Hampton, chairman of the Parks Commission.

Completing both those tasks may take two months. But, as he had stated earlier in the 50-minute long informal meeting held in the City Hall meeting room, this is a “process” that will not be completed on the city’s part overnight.

“Fifty years down the road, (I) just want to make sure no one says, ‘what were they thinking,’” said Hernandez.

He explained the requirements in city codes for creating an easement.

“I just want to get it legally done so 50 years down the road when we’re dead and gone there aren’t any problems,” said Hernandez.

Tom Lahmeyer, a member of numerous fair committees and co-owner along with Mike Miller of the 8.95-acre tract of land on Olive which includes mobile home rental sites, called their proposal to sell the property to the Fair Association “just an extension of the park except the fair is going to clean it up.”

The fair’s directors plan to clear out an area which once included a roadway back into the 1920s. They plan to put down a gravel base and top it off with a chat covering, Lahmeyer told Jeff Kuhne, the city’s public works director. There are ditch-like indentations in the ground which indicate where the road was once located, Lahmeyer told the group.

“We’re not thinking about paving it,” Lahmeyer said.

The proposed haul road will cross the walking trail in two locations, one up the hill near the property line and the other down near the arena. If needed, those crossing areas could be become concrete pads if the asphalt is damaged. Lahmeyer assured Terry Havelka, the city’s parks superintendent, that some culverts would be installed in the project area if necessary.

A bench on the upper portion of the trail would also need to be relocated.

Their proposal is to create the connecting road with a width of 30 feet which will allow two pulling tractors to pass going up and down the hillside.

Clearing work is being pledged for free by Miller, said Lahmeyer.

Lahmeyer said the decision for himself and Miller to acquire the property was simple. He said he heard of developer who was interested in building “upscale condos” on the site. While he acknowledged additional housing was needed in Owensville, he noted the old adage that there is no more land adjoining the park being created.

“It needed to go to the park, city, or for houses,” said Lahmeyer. “We looked at it, basically, as an extension of the park system with a vested interest.”

Miller had noted by creating a tractor-trailer parking area on the site, the fair could improve pedestrian traffic entering the fair grounds by eliminating truck and trailer parking along Red Oak Road from  Walnut to Parker Drive and back up to Memorial in front of Winter Park.

“It’s just going to make it safer,” said Milling noting 10,000-pound pulling tractors maneuvering around pedestrians walking down the road is not a safe recipe.

Miller and Lahmeyer said they also hope to reduce traffic in front of a manufacturing plant on Red Oak which often receives deliveries when pulling contestants are potentially blocking access to Lyn-Flex West’s loading docks.

“We’ve been watching the property for, what, four or five years?” said Lahmeyer. “When they decided to split up the property, we decided to jump on it. They’re not making any more ground there.”

Both Miller and Lahmeyer said they’ve been told by pulling association members that if parking accommodations were better, more contestants would participate at events staged in Owensville. Pullers do not like navigating their machinery through crowds of pedestrians sharing the roadway as their entrance and egress to a contest.

Hernandez questioned Miller and Lahmeyer on their intent on the nine remaining rental sites in the mobile home park. Would they be asking to rezone the property out of a mobile home park designation?

Both agreed they intended to allow the current pad renters to remain. “We’re not going to (rezone), and force people to move,” Lahmeyer told Hernandez.

Hernandez suggested they could ask for a variance to create a parking lot and leave it zoned as a mobile home park.

Lahmeyer, who is also appointed to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and chairs that advisory group, asked if that would require a hearing before the city’s Board of Adjustments.

Hernandez expected it would.

“That’s what my mind’s got…” he said, adding they could look at obtaining a C-2 (commercial) or R-5 (multiple dwelling residential) parking lot authorization for the acreage.

The acreage includes nine occupied mobile homes. Lahmeyer said the owner of a tenth unit was planning to sign the title over to himself and Miller. A neighbor had previously said the trailer was damaged from a water leak.

City electric records from 1992 lists 42 trailer spots with electric meters in the former “Grove” trailer court.

Miller cleared several dilapidated mobile units from the eastern end of the site before bad weather set in earlier in November.

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