The room was full at Syracuse Town Council meeting Tuesday evening. Photo by Denise Fedorow
The room was full at Syracuse Town Council meeting Tuesday evening. Photo by Denise Fedorow
SYRACUSE - It was a packed house at the Syracuse Town Council meeting Tuesday evening with most coming out to support the library as the town is planning to donate land for a new library.

During public comments, Library Director Kim Blaha passed out pamphlets to the council members outlining the library’s plans. “And I just wanted to say thanks because it sounds like it’s going to go through?”

Town attorney Jay Rigdon said they were trying to find a legal description as the deed is so old it’s not in the system. Tom Hoover, library board member and former council member, wanted a straight answer from the council. “Are we going to get the property?”

Rigdon said once they get the legal description for the deed, the council can formally approve the land donation. Councilman Paul Stoelting weighed in, saying he thought they put the matter in the library’s hands to get the soil reports needed to ensure they can build on the land. “You’re obviously not going to need it if you can’t build on it,” he said.

Councilman Larry Siegel did an informal poll of the council’s support for donating the land to the library and all seemed to be on board. Newest Councilman Nathan Scherer said he had questions because this was only his second meeting, but he thought it was a good spot.

Councilman Bill Musser addressed the crowd saying, “You’ve got to quit passing rumors around that you’re not going to get the property — we said at the last meeting that was our aim and I’m getting texts and messages and all these people came out — we’re on the library’s side.”

RV Resort

Steve Showalter, of Showalter RV, and Debra Hughes, civil engineer, gave a presentation to the council about Steve’s plans to build an “upscale RV resort” near Syracuse’s town limits and wanted to ask the council about the possibility of extending water and sewer to the property.

Showalter said he and his wife, Janelle, like to stay in upscale resorts and studies show people staying in such resorts like to shop local and they spend on average $200 a day.

He wants to create that type of resort he plans to call the North Trace RV Resort, and he said it would be for short-term stays only. He’s not looking to create a trailer park. “I’m excited about the location to be near Syracuse and its restaurants, shops and lakes and 13 miles from Nappanee with its great downtown.”

The property is not far off U.S. 6 so it will be easy to find, he said. The property is located on the Elkhart County-Kosciusko County line on CR 29 and the project would require having the town’s water and sewer extended.

Siegel asked if they petitioned for annexation yet and said ideally they’d like to work with them throughout the annexation process. The property is not contiguous to town limits. Town Manager David Wilkinson said it’s about a half mile, or 1,000 feet, from the town limits.

Hughes asked if that meant other property owners would need to be annexed, too, and Wilkinson said it would only affect one property owner and it’s a farm. Siegel said it would be worth talking to that property owner because there’s no impact on taxes for agricultural land.

He said they also have to work out an agreement with Elkhart County as for the distribution of property tax funds if annexed.

Siegel said, “As a resident, I think it’d be cool.”

Stoelting asked about their timeframe and Showalter responded he’d like all the agreements and approvals concluded by end of year so he can start in spring 2024.

Hughes asked if it could be done without annexation. Siegel said that “puts a burden on town residents.”

Musser said, “You could do it but you’d have to pay for it.”

Showalter said he was aware of that.

Showalter said the nearest upscale RV resort is in Grand Rapids. He said when occupancy is up to 85%, it can bring $6.4 million to the local economy. He said he plans 188 units with eight cabins for those with family members who don’t have an RV.

Musser said he was “happy to see what you’re going to bring. It looks exciting.”

Boil Order

Public Works Superintendent Mark Aurich said he wiped out a 6-inch water main Tuesday morning and repairs have been made but more valve work is needed.  In answer to Council President Cindy Kaiser’s question, he said 18 residents and eight businesses were affected by the water main break along Ind. 13 on Pickwick to Poplar and Forest Lane.

That area is under a 24-hour boil order and he said they contact the affected customers when that order is lifted, as well as post it online. He told the council he was very proud of his team as the wastewater, water and street department crews all worked together to fix the issue.

Turning to the audience he said, “The town of Syracuse can rest easy they have fine crews.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved a 2023 agreement with Commonwealth Engineers on an as-needed basis not to exceed $15,000, which is $5,000 less than recent years.

• Heard the town received the Tree City Award for 2022 - the 22nd year in a row - and they also received the Growth Award for the 17th time.

• Heard the first ball game at the new ball park is planned for April 29 and there will be a parade to the ball park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

• Approved asphalt from Pulver not to exceed $300,000 and the list of alleys and sidewalks to be paved.

• Approved $48,528 in rescue tools from Hoosier Fire, saving $56,000 by pulling it from the truck bid.

• Heard the fire department is certified in Safe Sitter training and will hold training sessions for young sitters.

• Heard a baby was surrendered to the Turkey Creek Fire Department and the Department of Child Services has taken the baby.

• Heard Scherer is forming a committee of people from Syracuse Lake Association, Wawasee Property Owner’s Association and the Wawasee Area Conservancy foundation to speak to politicians about repairing the bridge between Syracuse and Wawasee Lake, which he said is badly dilapidated. Their first meeting is March 28.