May 13, 2024 at 8:54 p.m.
Dunkirk City Council

Mayor addresses blighted properties

Robbins said mowing is underway, he will work on additional plans


DUNKIRK — The city has been working on cleaning up some properties.

Mayor Jack Robbins is hoping to do more.

Robbins provided a brief report Monday to Dunkirk City Council regarding efforts to clean up properties.

The mayor indicated that city employees mowed eight properties Friday. He said they started work on about a dozen more Monday.

Robbins said blighted properties are a problem in the city and he is working on plans to clean them up.

“It just seems like Dunkirk has got a bunch of them right now,” he said. “And it’s not only the weeds. There’s nobody living there. They’re un-rentable. We just need to do something.”

He told council members Jesse Bivens, Christy Curts, Dan Watson, Donna Revolt and Randy Murphy he will work with city attorney Wes Schemenaur and other county officials to address the issue.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m getting an awful lot of complaints,” Robbins said.

He added that out-of-town property owners seem to be an issue.

Bivens also reported the results of testing wells that have been out of service for a decade or more. He said Well No. 3, which was drilled in 1981 and has been out of service since 2002, can pump 200 gallons per minute. Meanwhile, Well No. 2, which has been out of service since 2014, came in at 40 gallons per minute.

The well testing was part of the city considering its options for providing greater water capacity to attract new housing and industry.

During the Jan. 8 council meeting, Tim Hill of well-drilling contractor Peerless Midwest of Mishawaka, indicated that the city’s options for new wells are limited because most of the city is built over rock. The more suitable areas for wells are further away and would require either running a water main to the city’s treatment plant or having a small plant on site, both of which he said would be costly.

Robbins said after the meeting that the city could look at bringing Well No. 3 back into service. (Water superintendent Brock Farmer previously said he would like to see the city add 300 gallons per minute to its current capacity.)

The council also heard an update from community coordinator Nate Kimball regarding the upcoming owner-occupied rehabilitation program.

Applications for the program will be open from May 28 through June 28. They will be available in the auditor's office at Jay County Courthouse, Kimball’s office at the Community Resource Center in Portland, Redkey Town Hall and Dunkirk’s city building. Applications will also be available to print at jaycounty.net.

Mostly funded through a $1 million grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) for the county's participation in the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP), the program will help residents pay for home improvements such as replacing a roof, water heater or heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit, doing electrical work or making a home more accessible. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

In other business:

•Council congratulated Robbins on winning the Dunkirk Community Commitment Award at Saturday’s Jay County Community Awards dinner and ceremony.

•Revolt reported that work is continuing on the walking trail at Dunkirk City Park. The project, being handled by Brooks Construction of Fort Wayne, is expected to be complete by the end of May. 

•Council canceled its regular meeting scheduled for May 25, which is Memorial Day. Its next meeting will be June 10.

•Robbins asked about the status of vacating the alley west of Mt. Tabor Community Church, 216 W. Pleasant St., which the council approved in February. Schemenaur said he would look into it.

•Council learned former Redkey clerk-treasurer Mary Eley has been hired as Dunkirk’s deputy clerk. She will start in that role on Monday.

•Bivens said he is working on getting a quote for a new front door for the city building. Robbins got one quote but had been having difficulty getting a second.

•Council approved the following sponsorships: $250 for the West Jay Optimist Club fishing derby; $200 for the West Jay Optimist Club Joe Doyle Memorial Golf Outing; $100 for the Dunkirk Kiwanis golf outing; and $100 for Jay County 4-H.

•Farmer thanked Revolt for providing city workers with refreshments while they worked on a recent water main break. Watson thanked all city employees who were involved in fixing the water main.

•Murphy noted that repairs to the street department’s truck are complete. It needed multiple valves replaced at a cost of about $2,100.

•Council paid claims totaling $1,633,998.60.

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