Written by Kelly Kaczala
Friday, 26 September 2008 09:22
Northwood is planning to build a new salt storage facility, partly with revenue from its Redflex camera fund.
Redflex is the company the city contracts with to operate its red light and speed enforcement cameras, which photograph the license plates of vehicles speeding and/or running red lights at certain intersections. A mobile speed van also takes snapshots of motorists at various locations in the city. Former Police Chief Gerald Herman a few years ago persuaded the city to add the cameras as a way to improve safety at intersections with high rates of traffic accidents.
Motorists who are cited pay a fee. Revenue collected from the citations is used to fund public safety projects.
So far, the Redflex revenue has funded the construction of a continuous right turn lane at Oregon and Wales roads, new flashing lights at Lark School and a speed indicator sign installed at Woodville and Lemoyne roads, which shows how fast motorists are going before they get to the intersection.
The city’s current salt storage building cannot hold enough road salt needed for the winter months.
“We’ve needed a new building for a while,” said Councilman Dave Gallaher.
The cost estimate of the new facility, which will be built between the gates of the city’s maintenance building and the current salt storage building, is $158,000. The dome will measure approximately 48’ by 56’.
At a council meeting last month, Gallaher asked if the project was in this year’s budget.
Administrator Pat Bacon said it was, but that the budgeted amount was $44,200 short of the estimated cost.
City Council approved a $2,700 contract with TTL Associates, Inc., to provide a soil investigation at the proposed site.
Council has also approved a $9,500 contract with Advanced Storage Technology, Inc., (AST) to provide plans and specifications for the new facility, which have been reviewed by the city engineer. AST will be providing a bid package, which includes blueprints and plans for those wishing to obtain bids for the project.
Before he voted in favor of the project, Councilman Dave Gallaher expressed concerns that the Redflex camera fund would be used by the city to finance projects that are not necessarily safety-related.
But Councilwoman Connie Hughes noted that the funds have been used for such safety projects as the turn lane at the Wales and Oregon roads intersection, and for the purchase of civil defense sirens. Councilman Ed Schimmel also said the funds have been used for a new 911 console in the police department’s dispatch area.
Gallaher said he wasn’t comfortable dipping into the Redflex fund to help pay for a budgeted item.
“To me, it’s like we’re incorporating this money into the operating budget, and I don’t think it should be,” Gallaher said last week.
He acknowledged that road salt improves traffic safety.
“But this is a peripheral safety item. Technically, you can say we could buy a fire truck with Redflex funds because fire trucks respond for safety issues,” said Gallaher.
“I supported this only because we didn’t have a choice,” he added. “Our backs were up against the wall. There’s no place else to get the money in the budget. The salt dome should have been in the budget. And we should have lived within our budget. Fortunately, we have this Redflex money we can fall back on. But the Redflex money should be used to make the city a safer place.”