Leesburg continues discussion regarding policing; housing

Photo: Nick Deranek/News Now Warsaw

The town of Leesburg will have to wait a little bit longer to possibly have a contract with Claypool Police Department to help Leesburg with traffic control.

During Monday’s Leesburg Council meeting, Councilman Doug Jones said he is still waiting on a contract.

Claypool Town Council discussed the contract at their July meeting. According to a July 21 Times-Union article, town residents voiced their concerns regarding the policing situation with Leesburg. A majority of those present had no problem with Town Marshal Ben Sanders patrolling in Leesburg, but were concerned about compensation for Claypool.

At Leesburg’s June meeting, Jones said the hourly rate would come out to $13. The annual rate would be $5,000, which could be billed annually or monthly. If billed monthly, the rate would be $416.66.

Claypool Council members scheduled an executive meeting for Aug. 3 to further discuss the contract with the town attorney and insurance representative.

Jones said they are doing their due diligence and waiting on information from their insurance company to make sure the contract isn’t going to cause any issues.

“They’re really doing their due diligence, which is good for both parties. I wish we had a contract to sign this week, but it’s not going to happen,” Jones said.

In other business, the Council heard from Suzie Light, representing Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.

Light informed the Council of some initiatives KEDCO is working on she said are important to KEDCO and the county.

One of the initiatives is a housing initiative. Part of the housing initiative is offering communities a predevelopment revolving loan fund, so when a project is happening, KEDCO can step in and help with some of the predevelopment work that needs to be done.

Light said KEDCO CEO Alan Tio went to the Council in 2019 and requested the town partner with KEDCO in executing a service agreement. The agreement for a town of Leesburg’s size would be a $5,000 for a year. At that time, Tio was the only one at KEDCO. Since then, Light said, Tio has staffed KEDCO with various experts, which includes housing.

Council President Tom Moore said Leesburg, for the most part, is landlocked and doesn’t have any extra space to build houses.

Light said it’s a situation similar to other communities. Mentone is working on its situation. She said there may be some developers that may be interested in acquiring some of the land that is adjacent to the town.

Councilwoman Christina Archer said one of the problems is the property owners surrounding the town, at least for now, have no interest in selling parts of their land.

“And we know that for sure. We’re not just guessing,” Archer said. If the Council had any doubts, it would be a totally different thing. She said the Council is aware of the fact from town chats it had three years ago, there’s a “desperate need for housing every place,” as well as child care.

It’s very difficult to figure out solutions to those problems when there’s no land available and there’s things the town is limited in doing in their downtown area, Archer said.

Light said if the Council is interested, there is a housing representative at KEDCO that could talk to the Council about options they could do as far as getting more housing. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with land acquisition, Light said.

The Council agreed to meet with the housing representative.

Archer also asked what kind of connection KEDCO has to LaunchPad to deal with child care issues.

Light said she’s aware of LaunchPad, but it is under the umbrella of the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.

Archer asked if LaunchPad Director Sherry Searles would be the best person to talk to about child care. Light said yes.

In other business, the Council:

• Heard he town’s K21 grant has been submitted and Archer is just waiting to hear back from K21.

The project chosen by Leesburg is walkways and bikeways along Van Buren Street. At June’s meeting, she said she submitted the application. However, she did say K21 requested a more detailed plan. She redrew the plan and took it to K21.

• Learned three warning tags were issued for parking on the street between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m.

• Announced the next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Town Hall.