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City Beat

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by Karen E. Culp

City Council in April will hear a proposal to cut through the west tuning fork, the street configuration that makes Park Central West end after crossing Campbell, and makes Market Street terminate before connecting with through streets, such as Olive.

Tom Finnie, city manager, said the city plans to "cut straight through" what is commonly known as the west tuning fork pending council approval in April. The proposal would get half of its funding from a Community Development Block Grant and half from city general funds, Finnie said.

"That's the way we intend funding it now. Of course, we'll need council approval, but we think this is the best way of funding that effort," Finnie said.

Finnie announced the street configuration change proposal at a Jan. 20 meeting of the Special Business District Advisory Board (see related story, beginning on page 1). He said the construction designs are complete, and that a special committee convened by the Urban Districts Alliance had chosen the design.

"Quite candidly, this is not the proposal we had chosen, but it's the one they chose, so it's the one we're going with," Finnie said.

The city will use the same process to determine the best route for cutting the east tuning fork, gathering input from the committee and area citizens, Finnie said. Work would begin on that project once this one gets closer to completion. Finnie said he expects construction to be completed this summer or fall on the west tuning fork.

In other city activity this week, the council unanimously approved a resolution concerning the transfer of ownership of the city's cable system from TCI to AT&T at its Jan. 19 meeting. A substitute resolution passed, the changes were mostly legal and wording changes, said Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendes.

The resolution approves the transfer with conditions. City officials have held two workshops to discuss concerns they have with the local cable operator and have approached the transfer approval as an opportunity to resolve some of those concerns.

One of the concerns was a dispute over the amount of franchise fees owed to the city. The city conducted an audit of the company's franchise fees paid through December 1997; TCI disputed some of the findings of that audit with regard to how much it owed in franchise fees. As a settlement of this conflict, the resolution asks that TCI pay $185,000 to the city by Feb. 15.

Another condition of the resolution is that TCI install a new phone system, since city officials have had concerns about the efficiency with which the cable company answers calls from customers. Another issue of assessing late fees and following the franchise agreement, which calls for late fees to be assessed only after 30 days of delinquency, was reiterated.

The resolution makes clear that the franchise agreement is to be followed and points out that incidents of TCI charging late fees when the franchise agreement did not permit it have been noted.

Council also held a first reading on a bill to rezone about 70 acres of land near the southwest corner of Kearney Street and Mulroy Road from Greene County A-1 to Planned Development District No. 225. The request was made by Springfield ReManufacturing Corporation's Holdings Corporation and is to be a consolidated campus for some of SRC's businesses.

No one spoke in opposition to the proposal, which has both staff and Planning and Zoning Commission approval. A group of citizens from the Pierson Creek area, who live near the proposed development and are concerned about water quality and quality of life in the area, did not retain their attorney, Jim Tucker, to speak against the ordinance.

"I think that we have resolved a number of the issues that the group had with the zoning change, except for perhaps some remaining concerns about parking," Tucker said.

He also said that the group does not plan to appeal council's decision to a court, but that it is content to let the planned development go through.

"They basically feel that the entity developing the area is a good citizen and will make it environmentally agreeable," Tucker said, referring to SRC and its leader, Jack Stack.

Council also approved unanimously the last of the set of bills to rezone a portion of the West Central neighborhood.

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