The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 10, 2013

Former Conneaut official disputes Day Street project

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — A former Conneaut councilman says he is unaware of any deal that put nearly $5,000 worth of stone on a dead-end street.

Dave Campbell, who served on council between 2008 and 2011, said City Council — to his knowledge — did not endorse improvements to the Day Street Extension to settle a property dispute. Campbell is a critic of the project.

“There was no agreement to create a parking lot,” he said Wednesday.

Recently, Public Works Department employees spread gravel on an extension of the street that protrudes north of Park Avenue. Last week, City Manager Tim Eggleston said the gravel was applied to satisfy an agreement struck before his arrival in June 2011 stemming from a dispute regarding an alley that runs parallel to Park Avenue. One party wanted the alley vacated to aid the construction of self-storage units, while a neighboring property owner resisted the project, believing it would hinder parking in the area.

Eggledston said last week he understood the council at that time authorized the gravel work.

“It was promised,” he said. “We’re keeping a promise.”

Campbell, who is seeking a council-at-large seat in November’s general election, said council made no such promise. The money could have been better spent, he said.

“That would never had gotten (council) support,” Campbell said.

“How did money for a parking lot trump maintenance on our secondary roads?”

The city spent $4,970 on material for the Day Street extension project, Finance Director John Williams said Wednesday.

At the time, council approved a motion to vacate the alley north of Park Avenue but defeated a similar motion to vacate the Day Street spur. No ordinance pertaining to the gravel work was prepared for council review, Pam Harper, council clerk, said Wednesday.

Traditionally, city managers do have some latitude to authorize projects without obtaining council’s blessing.

Council President Thomas Udell could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.