City commission discusses Three Rivers dog park rules, water testing costs

(City of Three Rivers Wastewater Treatment Plant)

The Three Rivers City Commission reviewed the draft ordinance of rules for the new dog park in downtown Three Rivers, and discussed whether and how to cover costs for residential water testing. 

The first reading of the draft ordinance for the dog park rules was accepted, and a public hearing on the matter will be held in January. The draft includes stipulations for the behavior of dogs, the responsibilities of dog owners for injury or damage, the hours of the dog park, among other rules. The draft states failure to comply with these rules will “be reported to the Animal Control Officer […], and will result in the removal and suspension of dog owners or caretakers (as well as the dog or dogs in their care) from the park.”

A question was raised during the meeting about who would enforce these rules. In an interview with Watershed Voice on Wednesday Mayor Tom Lowry said the dog park would be treated the same as other city parks. “When we have a problem, we’ll enforce it, but we don’t have enough [staff]; we can’t afford to have someone there full-time.”

Water testing

The commission also discussed a proposal to cover the cost of water testing for residential customers where the construction material of the water service line is unknown, in light of findings earlier this year of elevated levels of lead in city water. The city already covers the cost of tests for homes where there is a known lead service line, and is not covering the cost of tests for homes where the service line is known not to contain lead. The cost of water testing is $52 for the test itself and $12.60 for shipping. 

Commissioners agreed to cover the cost of the test for the first 150 residents of “older houses” who make a request to the Department of Public Services. Houses “more than 50 to 70 years old,” which are more likely to have lead water lines, will be prioritized, according to Lowry. Up to $10,000 will be allocated for this “first round” of covering costs, and Lowry added, “if it goes very quickly, then we’re going to consider doing more.”

(Lisa DeVine|Watershed Voice)

Popcorn stand

The commission accepted a donation of the “old popcorn stand” in Scidmore Park from Three Rivers Area Mentoring. Community Mental Health has been using it during the summer months, and has grant money available to make repairs and continue to utilize it. 

Live stream of city meetings

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission has been livestreaming meetings on Facebook. The November 24 meeting was not livestreamed, and the Three Rivers Commercial-News reported, “City Manager Joe Bippus told the Commercial-News the reason for the decision to not livestream the meeting was because of the presence of WWMT-TV covering the meeting, with a camera, for a story on their 11 p.m. newscast, which focused on the public comments about city water.” 

The December 5 meeting was also not livestreamed, and Watershed Voice Executive Editor Alek Haak-Frost reached out to Bippus and City Clerk Leslie Wilson for comment, which was not received by time of publication. Lowry noted that Tuesday’s meeting was not livestreamed due to the absence of Wilson at Tuesday’s meeting, who sets up the livestream. 

Deborah Haak-Frost is the Caretaker for Community Engagement at GilChrist Retreat Center in Three Rivers, and volunteers with *culture is not optional, a Three Rivers-based community development organization.