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AUBURN — City government is looking to add parking spaces in downtown Auburn, Mayor Mike Ley said Thursday.

The Board of Public Works and Safety hired Complete Appraisals Services of Bluffton to conduct “appraisals on real estate the city is looking at purchasing,” Ley said.

“Several of the parcels we’re looking at would be resolving off-street parking use,” Ley said after the board meeting.

The mayor did not disclose the locations of the properties. He said their owners have shown interest in selling. The city could not pay more than the prices established by the appraisals.

Among the pressures on city parking, a new, three-story headquarters of Credent Wealth Management is scheduled to open in eight months on the courthouse square.

Credent and other developments will create “almost an absolute need for a parking garage” in the future, Ley said.

The city has investigated the possibility of a parking garage on county-owned property across the street from the Credent building. Ley is making plans for a temporary, stone parking lot one block to the east, on city-owned land south of 7th Street along Cedar Creek.

In connection with the mayor’s vision for downtown, the board contracted with the American Heritage Trails bus line to take city leaders to Mishawaka for a tour Wednesday.

“We want our city officials to see it,” Ley said about Mishawaka’s downtown development.

Street projects awarded

Also Thursday, the board awarded contracts for three street projects this summer:

• MF Projects will completely reconstruct one block of 19th Street, from Cedar to Main, for $79,918;

• MF Projects also will completely reconstruct a segment of 17th Street, from Van Buren to Shull, for $112,573; and

• Brooks Construction will completely rebuild Greenhaven Terrace, from 1st Street to Hawthorne Place, for $349,052.

A contract to build an extension of Lenora Lane from the Holiday Inn Express to the rear of the Astral at Auburn senior living complex in west Auburn, including a bridge over Peckhart Ditch, was awarded to R.L. McCoy Inc. of Columbia City for $880,508.

The board authorized the Street Department to obtain quotes to install a sidewalk along Old Brick Road, where pedestrians have worn an unofficial path.

North water tower to be rehabilitated

Board members hired Dixon Engineering to prepare specifications for rehabilitation of the city’s north water tower, along C.R. 427.

Built in 2001, the tower never has undergone a rehabilitation. The estimated cost is $408,000, including addition of a mixer to create more even temperature and reduce ice formation.

Open Door Rentals and Real Estate, 408 S. Main St., Auburn, was contracted to manage the Auburn Mobile Home Park at the city’s south edge, which has been given to the city by the descendants of its founders, the late Burt and Elsie Dickman. Mr. Dickman is a former mayor.

After the city takes ownership in the near future, the park’s estimated 28 residents will be given three years to relocate. The city will offer help in relocating them.

The city could use the front portion of the property for an approach to a proposed vehicle bridge over the CSX railroad tracks. The rear of the property will be converted to a natural state, but may someday be needed for expansion of the water pollution control plant, which neighbors it to the north.

Health premiums rising

The board changed the city’s health care insurance provider from Nationwide by awarding the contract to HCC, the low bidder.

Last year the city saw no increase in premium, and increases were in single digits for two or three previous years, the board heard.

This time the increase will be 19.1%, the lowest price offered by more than a dozen companies from which the city sought bids. Most declined to bid. A consultant told the city that medical costs in northeast Indiana have inflated by 18%.

“We’re right there with other communities,” Ley said about the increase.

The city’s annual premium will rise from $2,246,620 to $2,797,242.

The city pays 80% of premiums, with employees responsible for 20%. That ratio will continue, so both the city and employees will feel the 19.1% increase.

Street closings for special events approved

The board approved temporary closures of:

• the 300 block of North Main Street for special events at Auburn Brewing Company on July 10 and Aug. 28; and

• portions of North Street and C.R. 36-A on the morning of July 17 for the Tri Kappa Kids Marathon at the YMCA of DeKalb County.

The board authorized Littlejohn Auctions to conduct an online auction from July 13-26 of unclaimed bicycles recovered by the police department.

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