OAKLAND CITY — The city's plan to preserve the historic former City Hall building with a $444,115 state grant and $50,050 in local funds was the topic of a public hearing conducted by Oakland City's Common Council Tuesday night.

The hearing served as a chance for community members to voice questions and concerns about the project and hear updates on the budget and timeline.

The deadline to apply for the Community Development Block Grant is July 20. If Oakland City is approved for that grant, notification will be sent Aug. 23.

One question raised about the project is whether or not the inside of the building would be renovated along with the exterior. The grant money is focused on restoring the exterior, but Mayor Hugh Wirth said he would like to eventually see the building restored for use again.

Project architect Alan Knepp with Myszak & Palmer Architects also addressed questions regarding how close the restoration will come to the original 1911 design.

Knepp said windows will be restored back to a style more of the time and a doorway added to the side of the building will be filled in.

The hearing finished with the next step set to submit the grant application.

During Tuesday's city council meeting, residents also had opportunity to comment on the proposed crossing closures from Norfolk Southern Railway.

An administrative law judge will conduct a hearing to determine whether the Indiana Department of Transportation should have given Norfolk Southern a hearing after Oakland City rejected the railroad's original proposed closures.

The council agreed to wait until after the hearing ruling has been handed down, but the overall agreement is the city does not want any roads closed.

Council member Charles Chochran said Norfolk said it’s for safety issues, but that’s something the railroad would have to provide him proof of. “They haven’t done that,” he said.

He also said it’s due in part to the federal government saying a certain amount of railroad crossings are redundant.

“Well, that’s small-town life,” Cochran said. “Everything is redundant in small towns. The federal government needs to take care of the federal government and leave small communities alone.”

Other matters discussed:

  • The council discussed the upcoming clean-up day for Wirth Park starting at 8 a.m. July 14.
  • Councilwoman Linda Richardson voiced concern about the grass ordinance.

“I feel like it needs to be enforced more,” she said. “If you drive around town and see where people have mowed, so many of them have thrown the grass out into the road.”

The ordinance adopted in 2016, does include monetary consequences that begin after the first offense. The first results in a warning, the next is $150 fine and then $250 for the next offense. After the third instance, each offense continues at $250.

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