The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 6, 2013

New home for New Leaf could see a summer start

Conneaut's planners meet Tuesday to study church plans

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Members of Conneaut’s Planning Commission will learn more details about a proposed new home for New Leaf United Methodist Church next week.

The commission will examine preliminary plans for the project at a 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting at City Hall.

New Leaf members hope to transform and expand a former medical building it owns along Route 7 near Gateway Avenue into a church. Documents on file with the city indicate the church plans to erect two additions to the medical building, one of the new structures is to be a day care center, according to Deanna Gates, Conneaut’s planning/zoning manager.

Planning Commission members will see some preliminary sketches and data Tuesday, with a more detailed site plan to follow in the coming weeks, Gates said. According to a rough timetable members provided the city, New Leaf would like to obtain quotes from contractors this month, handle utilities this summer and start construction sometime in September, Gates said.

“(The church) really expects to get moving,” she said. “They want to keep things rolling. It’s really exciting.”

If plans hold true, work on a new church would start in earnest nearly five years after members of three UM churches in Conneaut — Lakeview, East Conneaut and First — agreed to merge in late 2008. The result, New Leaf United Methodist Church, debuted in 2009 at the First UM location.

A fourth Conneaut UM church, Amboy, opposed the merger.

At the time of the merger, church members said their permanent worship site could either be a new building or existing church. Members would examine a wide range of criteria before making a decision, according to news reports at the time.

New Leaf is already using the medical building for youth programs, Gates said. The building was constructed in 2000 and opened as the Conneaut Health Care Center, a subsidiary of Hamot Medical Center.  The center closed in 2004 and the building sat vacant until 2007, when it was acquired by Dr. Thomas Hunt and did business as the Woodland Clinic.