Syracuse Residents Air Concerns Over ‘Designated Outdoor Drinking’

May 22, 2024 at 9:31 p.m.
Mark Chambers of Servline Utility Protection Program presented the program to Syracuse Town Council Tuesday evening. Photo by Denise Fedorow
Mark Chambers of Servline Utility Protection Program presented the program to Syracuse Town Council Tuesday evening. Photo by Denise Fedorow

By DENISE FEDOROW

SYRACUSE – A couple of residents aired concerns about the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area at Tuesday’s Syracuse Town Council meeting during the public comment section of the meeting.
Tom Hoover, former council member, wanted to know what the coverage area was and said as a library board member he was concerned and thought it had to be 200 feet away from a school or church. He questioned the value of the program saying, “I don’t see the benefit of carrying booze back and forth on the streets.”
He said he didn’t know who was pushing it and didn’t see the meeting that was held publicized.
Town Manager David Wilkinson said he held the meeting, and it was a public meeting with about 1520 people in attendance. He said he didn’t publish it in the papers but did on Facebook and on the town’s website. Wilkinson explained it was a new state law passed a few months ago and that Warsaw and Winona Lake had both adopted it.
“It allows for the free movement of alcohol within a designated area and requires one bar to be the anchor bar and the Huntington Street bar has agreed to be the anchor if it passes,” Wilkinson said.
“What are you going to do wander around the streets of Syracuse with a cup of booze? It’s nuts! We’re not artsy fartsy uptown,” Hoover said.
Chris Carboneau of Syracuse Hardware said he was at the public meeting, and he feels, “The way we He thought the council was voting on it at that meeting, but it wasn’t on the agenda, and he was told it’s all exploratory at this point. Carboneau said since Warsaw already adopted it, he suggested Syracuse wait to see how it works for them before instituting it here.
“Because once we adopt something It’s hard to get rid of it,” he said, bringing up the Riverfront District as an example. He claimed that was started because of Peterson’s so they could get a beer and wine license and now they’re out of business and the building is up for sale.
“Can we cancel the River District?” he asked.
Council member Larry Siegel said the River District wasn’t just for alcohol, a coffee shop could be in the district too. “The idea was for longterm development in the area.”
Wilkinson and the council thanked the gentlemen for their input and again said it was all informative at this point.
Another woman in the audience who didn’t give her name asked if burning was banned in town and was told campfires or fires for recreational purposes was allowed. She said she was asthmatic and had a neighbor burning all day long.
Council President Nathan Scherer said they will have their code enforcement officer check into it.
Animal Waste Ordinance
Wilkinson again brought an animal waste ordinance to the council for discussion and possible adoption. He said he brought it last month with an exclusion for horses, so he brought two versions to them Tuesday – one with horses excluded one without.
He said the reason horses were excluded was because it’s hard to enforce and other towns tried and had issues.
Council member Cindy Kaiser said, “I don’t like the horse waste.” And later added, “Community members contact me about the horses, not dogs.”
Scherer asked Police Chief Jim Layne how he felt about enforcement, and he said what Wilkinson said was true. Council Member Paul Stoelting asked what difference there was between horses and dogs when it comes to enforcement. Layne admitted it is a little hard if they don’t see the act, but they take the complaints.
Town attorney Jay Rigdon said, “You’re not going to do a DNA test, but one difference is horses cover a larger area than dogs. We tend to walk our dogs in our neighborhood.”
Stoelting asked Layne which version of the ordinance he recommended, and Layne said the one without horses, unless they’re going to require horses to wear a bag that catches the manure and other towns have tried that but weren’t successful.
Scherer said, “I think it’s reasonable to expect people to clean up after their animals.”
Council member Bill Musser said people aren’t going to stop their carriage and jump out and clean up after their horses.
Scherer called for a motion on one of the ordinances and didn’t receive one, so the ordinance failed for lack of a motion.
Leak Protection
Mike Chambers of Servline Utility Protection came to offer their services to the town and its residents. Chambers said it was designed to help when residents receive a big bill when they have a leak, and they offer three plans. $500 coverage costs $1.30 a month per household, $1,000 coverage costs $1.55 and $2800 costs $1.80 a month. He said if residents get a $700 or $800 bill, they’d pay their typical amount and Servline would pay the overage.
He said if the town was interested, they’d send a letter with the water bills, and everyone would be included unless they opt out. There’s also a separate program that protects the portion of the line that the resident is responsible for $5.99 a month.
He said the program is designed to replace the town’s annual forgiveness program, so the town doesn’t have to absorb that expense.
Council members had several other questions and Clerk Treasurer Virginia Cazier said she didn’t want to do it — she felt it would be more work for her and her shortstaffed office and not worth it.
Scherer thanked her but said he wanted to see numbers first about how much in adjustments they’re losing annually. Cazier said she’d get that information to them. The council decided to wait for more information before making a decision one way or the other.
Public Works
Public Works Superintendent Mark Aurich said they are working on the engineering phase to bring water and sewer to Kern Road because there are a couple of failing septic systems and they are annexed, but he wanted to get the council’s approval to waive the $1,000 tap fee to the rest of the residents recently annexed on Kern Road if they sign up within 30 days.
“It’ll save the town a ton of money if they do it right away,” he said.
If the residents don’t tap in, they’d have to get their septic certified and get a waiver from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. But if they decide later to get on the system it would mean tearing up new roadwork. He’d prefer offering an incentive to do it now — within 30 days of receiving the notice.
The council approved waiving the tap fee for those residents.
Kaiser asked Aurich about a notation on his report about fire hydrants in the tech park. He explained they noticed a sudden loss of pressure and discovered a tanker was filling up without authorization and it wasn’t the first time, so he purchased locks for the fire hydrants and the fire department has keys.
In other business:
• Approved Requests for Proposals for trash renewal using the same specifications as current contract.
• Requested more information on insurance needed for police to have take home vehicles.
• Heard the roof on the community building is finished.
• Heard the parks department received one certified lifeguard application and applicants not certified were referred to a class so they could become certified.
to correct a billing error, which ended up in a $48,000 refund to the town.
• Ivory proposed a renewal of his company’s contract with the town, which expires at the end of June The new contract proposal would increase the monthly cost per residence from $11.47 to $11.81. That amount would go up to $12.17 the following year. Currently, the town charges residents $12 per month, which would also be adjusted if the contract is renewed at the higher rate. The council plans to make a decision on the matter during next month’s meeting.
• Alan Frank, board president of the Senior Primelife Enrichment Center, addressed the council to update the organization’s activity. He informed the council that SPEC's longtime director, Nancy Gray, has stepped down from that role. Christy King has been hired and is currently serving her 90day probationary period on the job. Gray has been volunteering her time to help King with the transition and will continue to be a presence at SPEC moving forward, only in a voluntary role.
• Frank noted that SPEC has increased its hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to instead opening one hour earlier each weekday. He pointed out that this one hour increase will require an extra $3,000 annually in pay for the director. He also noted that the annual calendar sale, which has been spearheaded by

SYRACUSE – A couple of residents aired concerns about the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area at Tuesday’s Syracuse Town Council meeting during the public comment section of the meeting.
Tom Hoover, former council member, wanted to know what the coverage area was and said as a library board member he was concerned and thought it had to be 200 feet away from a school or church. He questioned the value of the program saying, “I don’t see the benefit of carrying booze back and forth on the streets.”
He said he didn’t know who was pushing it and didn’t see the meeting that was held publicized.
Town Manager David Wilkinson said he held the meeting, and it was a public meeting with about 1520 people in attendance. He said he didn’t publish it in the papers but did on Facebook and on the town’s website. Wilkinson explained it was a new state law passed a few months ago and that Warsaw and Winona Lake had both adopted it.
“It allows for the free movement of alcohol within a designated area and requires one bar to be the anchor bar and the Huntington Street bar has agreed to be the anchor if it passes,” Wilkinson said.
“What are you going to do wander around the streets of Syracuse with a cup of booze? It’s nuts! We’re not artsy fartsy uptown,” Hoover said.
Chris Carboneau of Syracuse Hardware said he was at the public meeting, and he feels, “The way we He thought the council was voting on it at that meeting, but it wasn’t on the agenda, and he was told it’s all exploratory at this point. Carboneau said since Warsaw already adopted it, he suggested Syracuse wait to see how it works for them before instituting it here.
“Because once we adopt something It’s hard to get rid of it,” he said, bringing up the Riverfront District as an example. He claimed that was started because of Peterson’s so they could get a beer and wine license and now they’re out of business and the building is up for sale.
“Can we cancel the River District?” he asked.
Council member Larry Siegel said the River District wasn’t just for alcohol, a coffee shop could be in the district too. “The idea was for longterm development in the area.”
Wilkinson and the council thanked the gentlemen for their input and again said it was all informative at this point.
Another woman in the audience who didn’t give her name asked if burning was banned in town and was told campfires or fires for recreational purposes was allowed. She said she was asthmatic and had a neighbor burning all day long.
Council President Nathan Scherer said they will have their code enforcement officer check into it.
Animal Waste Ordinance
Wilkinson again brought an animal waste ordinance to the council for discussion and possible adoption. He said he brought it last month with an exclusion for horses, so he brought two versions to them Tuesday – one with horses excluded one without.
He said the reason horses were excluded was because it’s hard to enforce and other towns tried and had issues.
Council member Cindy Kaiser said, “I don’t like the horse waste.” And later added, “Community members contact me about the horses, not dogs.”
Scherer asked Police Chief Jim Layne how he felt about enforcement, and he said what Wilkinson said was true. Council Member Paul Stoelting asked what difference there was between horses and dogs when it comes to enforcement. Layne admitted it is a little hard if they don’t see the act, but they take the complaints.
Town attorney Jay Rigdon said, “You’re not going to do a DNA test, but one difference is horses cover a larger area than dogs. We tend to walk our dogs in our neighborhood.”
Stoelting asked Layne which version of the ordinance he recommended, and Layne said the one without horses, unless they’re going to require horses to wear a bag that catches the manure and other towns have tried that but weren’t successful.
Scherer said, “I think it’s reasonable to expect people to clean up after their animals.”
Council member Bill Musser said people aren’t going to stop their carriage and jump out and clean up after their horses.
Scherer called for a motion on one of the ordinances and didn’t receive one, so the ordinance failed for lack of a motion.
Leak Protection
Mike Chambers of Servline Utility Protection came to offer their services to the town and its residents. Chambers said it was designed to help when residents receive a big bill when they have a leak, and they offer three plans. $500 coverage costs $1.30 a month per household, $1,000 coverage costs $1.55 and $2800 costs $1.80 a month. He said if residents get a $700 or $800 bill, they’d pay their typical amount and Servline would pay the overage.
He said if the town was interested, they’d send a letter with the water bills, and everyone would be included unless they opt out. There’s also a separate program that protects the portion of the line that the resident is responsible for $5.99 a month.
He said the program is designed to replace the town’s annual forgiveness program, so the town doesn’t have to absorb that expense.
Council members had several other questions and Clerk Treasurer Virginia Cazier said she didn’t want to do it — she felt it would be more work for her and her shortstaffed office and not worth it.
Scherer thanked her but said he wanted to see numbers first about how much in adjustments they’re losing annually. Cazier said she’d get that information to them. The council decided to wait for more information before making a decision one way or the other.
Public Works
Public Works Superintendent Mark Aurich said they are working on the engineering phase to bring water and sewer to Kern Road because there are a couple of failing septic systems and they are annexed, but he wanted to get the council’s approval to waive the $1,000 tap fee to the rest of the residents recently annexed on Kern Road if they sign up within 30 days.
“It’ll save the town a ton of money if they do it right away,” he said.
If the residents don’t tap in, they’d have to get their septic certified and get a waiver from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. But if they decide later to get on the system it would mean tearing up new roadwork. He’d prefer offering an incentive to do it now — within 30 days of receiving the notice.
The council approved waiving the tap fee for those residents.
Kaiser asked Aurich about a notation on his report about fire hydrants in the tech park. He explained they noticed a sudden loss of pressure and discovered a tanker was filling up without authorization and it wasn’t the first time, so he purchased locks for the fire hydrants and the fire department has keys.
In other business:
• Approved Requests for Proposals for trash renewal using the same specifications as current contract.
• Requested more information on insurance needed for police to have take home vehicles.
• Heard the roof on the community building is finished.
• Heard the parks department received one certified lifeguard application and applicants not certified were referred to a class so they could become certified.
to correct a billing error, which ended up in a $48,000 refund to the town.
• Ivory proposed a renewal of his company’s contract with the town, which expires at the end of June The new contract proposal would increase the monthly cost per residence from $11.47 to $11.81. That amount would go up to $12.17 the following year. Currently, the town charges residents $12 per month, which would also be adjusted if the contract is renewed at the higher rate. The council plans to make a decision on the matter during next month’s meeting.
• Alan Frank, board president of the Senior Primelife Enrichment Center, addressed the council to update the organization’s activity. He informed the council that SPEC's longtime director, Nancy Gray, has stepped down from that role. Christy King has been hired and is currently serving her 90day probationary period on the job. Gray has been volunteering her time to help King with the transition and will continue to be a presence at SPEC moving forward, only in a voluntary role.
• Frank noted that SPEC has increased its hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to instead opening one hour earlier each weekday. He pointed out that this one hour increase will require an extra $3,000 annually in pay for the director. He also noted that the annual calendar sale, which has been spearheaded by

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