Annexation has Midland, city at odds
The tension was a little high between the Baldwin City Council and a representative of Midland Railway at Monday's council meeting.
Tempers flared when discussion on whether to set a public hearing to annex a section of land in west Baldwin centered on Midland's role in the annexation.
One of the reasons the city wants to annex the strip of land located west of 12th Streets and south of Ames Street is to be able to run utilities to the new elementary school just west of the area. Currently there are only temporary utilities to the school under construction.
Mayor Ken Hayes wanted to know why Midland would only agree to a lease with the city that would allow the railroad 30 days to back out of the agreement, forcing the city to relocate the utilities.
"Why not work on getting permanent easements?" Hayes said.
Midland representative Art Davis said he wasn't in charge and didn't know all the answers, but it was possible it was the only legal option for the railroad.
Council Member Ken Wagner wanted to know why Midland wasn't more cooperative with the city.
"When you have a chance to embrace the community, why do you become an obstacle?" Wagner said. "It's really interesting when a new school is built, that it's the railroad holding up bringing basic services to the public school."
Davis said Midland did work at being part of the community.
"We brought Thomas the Tank," he said. "We only allowed Baldwin groups to work it. We turned down numerous offers from other groups and only opened it to Baldwin. We specifically made it a Baldwin event."
But Monday's discussion wasn't just between Midland and the council.
Baldwin resident Albert Johnston, who owns a section of land considered for annexation, said he was against even having the public hearing to discuss the issue.
"I'm opposed to being brought in the city," Johnston said. "It's blatantly unfair. The only reason to be brought in is to raise taxes. It's just a matter of money grabbing by the city. We're treated as if we're outside the city until it's time to collect taxes."
But council members agreed a public hearing was necessary to hear all of the information regarding the annexation. The council approved in a 4-0 vote, Council Member Marilyn Pearse was absent, to set a public hearing to consider the annexation for April 8.
In other business, the council:
- Met in executive session for 20 minutes for attorney, client privilege. After executive session, the council approved in a 4-0 vote to authorize city staff to collect no more than $20,000 from Jerry Donnelly and the Baldwin Land Company for their portion of the total cost of the acceleration and deceleration lanes at U.S. Highway 56 and Eighth Street.
Until their portion of the project, which was done when the highway was widened in 2000, is paid, no building permits will be sold for their properties after March 1.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote to award the engineering contract to BG Consultants for the FireTree Estates lift station improvements for no more than $12,500.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote to award the contract to Cutler-Hammer for installation of a SCADA system for the existing power plant for $17,700.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote to award the contract to Capital Electric for the completion of improvements to electric feeder No. 2 for $140,800.
The feeder had been damaged in last year's ice storm. The rebuilding will be from Sixth Street to Third Street and from High Street to Orange Street.