The Ashtabula County Port Authority on Friday voted to put the $3.1 million redevelopment project at Plant C out to bid.
Board members Ray Gruber, Jim Comp, Jerome Brockway, Nick Iarocci, Richard Selip and Rob Schimmelpfennig voted unanimously to advertise for bids starting Jan. 25. The step to advertise for bids is the latest milestone in a project that began three years previously, when the port authority began the application process for a $1.55 million Economic Development Agency grant that is matched with a $1.55 million Ohio Water Development Authority loan to supply funding for the project.
“The Port Authority has worked tirelessly to renovate the raw water distribution system at Plant C,” said Sean Ratican, executive director of the Ashtabula County Port Authority. “The port purchased Plant C to ensure that the more than 900 jobs that depend on water in Ashtabula Township are here for generations to come.”
Ratican will work with Michael Baker Jr., Inc to finalize the bid packet. The specifications will be published next week in a newspaper of public record, and on the Ashtabula County Commissioners’ website. The port expects to hold a mandatory site visit for any contractors interested in bidding on the project. Bids are due by the end of February.
“If all goes well during the bidding process, we expect to evaluate the bids we receive at the end of February, and then select a contractor during the first week of March,” Ratican said. “Based on the lead time when ordering the pipe and electrical equipment, we expect construction to start sometime in the spring.”
“The bulk of the project should be completed this year, and at the end of the project we will have a brand new water pumping station to guarantees the availability of raw water to existing local industry and prospective future manufacturers. This is a great step in the economic development of Ashtabula County, and an example of how this county is moving in the right direction,” he said.
The redevelopment of Plant C will allow for a significant growth in the manufacturing industry within Ashtabula County. The port holds a permit to withdraw up to 200 million gallons of water a day from Lake Erie, but pumps only a small fraction of that. Having a consistent water resource is one aspect that economic development professionals believe will help further Ashtabula County’s growth.
“Economic development is a priority at the Port Authority,” said ACPA board president Rob Schimmelpfennig. “This project provides opportunity both now and in the future so we are very pleased to see that the project is gaining steam and will break ground in the near future.”
“The renovation of Plant C and the economic development of Ashtabula County has been a collaborative effort of the current Port Authority board members, past board members such as Dennis Eckart and John Palo, the county commissioners, township trustees, and dozens of more community leaders that are too numerous to list. Economic development is truly a community wide effort, and projects such as these help us advance our resources,” Ratican said.
“The future is bright for Ashtabula County. By renovating Plant C, we are guaranteeing that raw water is available at a very affordable rate for generations to come. Plant C is a cornerstone of the industrial base in this region. Combined with our Brownfield redevelopment efforts at the port authority, we believe that we have taken a significant step in our plan to have a valuable natural resource available at a cost that is attractive to several industries. When you combine that with land that is redeveloped, the progress being made in workforce development and our geographic proximity to several major metropolises and our two international ports, Ashtabula County has some very attractive resources.”