Piqua releases update health guidelines


By Aimee Hancock

PIQUA — The city of Piqua has released updated guidelines regarding COVID-19.

During Tuesday’s commission meeting, City Manager Paul Oberdorfer said beginning June 2, after all health orders are rescinded by the state, city buildings will be open to the public with the recommendation that all unvaccinated individuals wear face masks and socially distance themselves from others.

At that time, city-held public meetings, including city commission meetings, will be open to the public at full capacity.

Residents may now reserve the Fountain Park Dining Hall, and beginning July 5, the Mote Park Community Center will be open for reservations.

In a recent press release, Piqua Health and Sanitation Director Amy Welker said all residents are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves and others.

“At this time, with the guidance from the CDC, it does make sense to loosen the restrictions,” Welker stated. “People need to be able to get back to normal activities, particularly those who are protected because they are vaccinated.”

Vaccinations are readily available in the community at local pharmacies, hospitals and the Miami County Public Health Department, the release states.

During Tuesday’s meeting, a resolution was passed to dedicate a portion of Looney Road and East Ash Street as public right of way.

According to Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing, this relates to the development of an outlot in front of Home Depot, which is the intended development site for a Starbucks retail store location.

As part of the redevelopment of this site, the track of land will be replatted to make the boundaries match, and within the boundaries of the parcel is a portion of the highway easement for U.S. Route 36 and/or some of Looney Road.

“In replatting the track of land under these kind of circumstances, we typically require that the developer or ownership interest dedicate that area as public right of way,” Schmiesing said.

The commission voted to table a resolution to designate the overlook behind the former Piqua Power Plant as “John Gallagher Park.”

According to City Planner Kyrsten French, after the city received a donation from Dr. Jim Burkhardt, from the “Down a River, Down a Beer” event fund, to fund a riverway kiosk, it was decided that the power plant overlook needed a fitting name to go on the kiosk along with the map and wayfinding directions.

It was Power System Director Ed Kreiger, French said, who proposed John Gallagher Park.

“John Gallagher is a pretty titanic figure as far as our municipal power system goes,” French said. “He was the first power systems director and right after that power plant was built, which was a huge deal back in the ’40s, he expanded that facility to three times the original size, added steam power, which wasn’t sold prior to his arrival … and he also went to Washington, D.C., to negotiate for siting of the nuclear facility across the river.”

Commissioner Thomas Fogt requested the resolution be tabled due to a separate resolution, passed in 2009, which dictates specific guidelines that need to be followed in order to name a site within the city.

According to French, this resolution policy was repealed in 2015. The commission will gather details regarding any naming guidelines and will re-examine the proposed resolution at a later date.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the commission approved a resolution awarding a contract to Outdoor Enterprise for the parking lot project at the corner of Water and Main streets. This project will be funded by $134,368 in grant monies from the USDA Rural Downtown Grant Program, along with $21,000 in electric funds and $39,000 in street funds, for a total amount of $194,368. This total includes a contingency in the case of unforeseen circumstances. Outdoor Enterprise’s project bid was $181,802.40.

During the public comment segment of Tuesday’s meeting, resident Ruth Koon spoke on behalf of 23 homeowners on Park Avenue and adjacent to Park Avenue, between Sunset Drive and Washington Avenue.

Koon said she and the other homeowners request that the city erect signs on both ends of Park Avenue, at Sunset Drive and Washington Avenue, to restrict large truck traffic from using the residential street.

“The truck traffic has increased over the past few years and has created a number of problems for our quiet residential neighborhood,” Koon said. “Park Avenue is only 24 feet wide and there is a major safety issue with the school buses using our street to drop off and pick up children during the day, making it dangerous for them and for pedestrians using the sidewalk.”

Koon said the trucks are not only noisy and seemingly difficult to navigate through the neighborhood, but causing the street “to deteriorate because of their weight.”

Oberdorfer said plans can be made to speak with the city engineer about looking further into the issue and possible fixes.

City Engineer Amy Havenar and Engineering Technician Kenton Kiser gave a presentation about pavement preservation, which is “a program employing a network level, long-term strategy that enhances pavement performance by using an integrative, cost-effective set of practices that extend pavement life, improve safety, and meet motorist expectations.”

The commission held an executive session “to consider confidential information related to economic development.”

The next Commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, June 1.

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