Clowns, road work, bird-watching and code enforcement top City Council agenda

Hurricane city offices, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 6, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

HURRICANE — Sewer ponds acting as beautiful bird-watching areas, an end to construction on State Street and a police warning that clown threats or pranks are grounds for an arrest were among the topics discussed at Thursday’s Hurricane City Council meeting.

Bird-watching platforms

A proposal to install viewing platforms at the Ash Creek Special Service District ponds was presented to the council.

The sewer ponds act as a major flyway for birds in the area. Hundreds of thousands of birds come through the area making it a productive area for observing birds, Maurice DeMille said.

“The bird population here is larger than it is anywhere else in the state,” DeMille said.

The ponds are currently fenced, making it difficult to view the area.

Birdwatchers surveying the pond next to the Tonaquint Nature Center, Jan. 30, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News
In this January 2015 photo included for illustration, birdwatchers are surveying the pond next to the Tonaquint Nature Center in St. George, Utah, Jan. 30, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

The proposal would see viewing platforms installed on the two north ponds, providing a safe way to view the birds for the area’s resource-limited bird-watchers, as well as providing prestige to the area that often attracts the much larger population of Northern Utah birders, DeMille said.

There is a growing trend around the country of communities renaming their sewer and water treatment ponds to reflect the fact that they also serve as bird refuges and wetlands, Rick Fridell of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources noted.

“We think this project would be better served under the direction of the city,” DeMille said.

The platforms would be built to be durable and aesthetically pleasing with a roof and railing. A rough estimate would put their cost at $15,000 to $20,000 per platform, DeMille said.

The council was in favor of the idea and Mayor John Bramall suggested that the project use contingency funds to help with planning, as well as to submit a request for Recreation, Arts and Parks tax money.

City Manager Clark Fawcett also suggested some funding could be sought from the state.

“We certainly could look into some opportunities to cost-share this with the state,” Fridell said.

Clown sightings and State Street

Nightly clown sightings and a flurry of calls to the Police Department about them has the Police Department taking a no-nonsense approach to the issue.

“Our agency did arrest two (clowns) last night,” Police Chief Lynn Excell said.

“We’ve been very clear on the fact that if you go out, if you violate the law, if you harass, if you scare, if you threaten, we’re going to arrest you,” he said. “Sorry, we don’t need that in our community.”

State Street construction will be wrapped up within two weeks, City Engineer Arthur LeBaron said.

During that time, concrete work, manhole cover installation, median construction and a new coat of striping will bring the project to its conclusion.

Code enforcement

“I’m up here to discuss code enforcement and I guess more the lack of it in our town, and this general representation that we don’t need it,” Hurricane resident Sean Reddish said.

As Reddish looked to the city for help resolving an issue involving a local parking lot that was in disrepair as well as a recent instance of a vehicle being left in front of his residence for nearly a month without being moved, he realized there is no specific individual from the city government he could turn to for help resolving these city code violations.

“We need to empower someone to do it. My thought, off the cuff, let the Police Department handle it,” Reddish said.

A code enforcer would need to come equipped with expertise and experience and could cost the city as much as $100,000 per year after benefits, Bramall said, while noting he is in favor of the idea.

Police Chief Lynn Excell said he agreed with Reddish that a code enforcer would best be employed by the Police Department.

The issue was slated to be discussed in upcoming budget proceedings.

Other business

Bella Vita, a 168-lot single family subdivision, was approved for a preliminary plat. The area is located between 600 North and 100 North at 1900 West.

Scott Johnson, a Hurricane resident who lives near a city pickleball court, pleaded with the council to do something permanent about the noise pollution caused by the pickleball court, saying his 14th Amendment rights are being violated by the invasive noise. The council discussed potential solutions, including noise-canceling walls and trenching the court.

Read more: Fighting city hall: Couple’s pickleball battle continues

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