The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

January 5, 2013

$3 million Plant C project ready to start taking bids

JEFFERSON — JEFFERSON — The New Year is off to a good start for the Ashtabula County Port Authority, which will soon advertise for bids on a $3.1 million renovation project at Plant C.

On Wednesday, the authority received permission to proceed with a pipe and pump replacement project that received a $1.5 million grant from the federal Economic Development Agency (EDA). The project allows for the replacement of four water pumps, nearly 100 feet of water line and the electrical infrastructure that powers the pump station.

Plant C provides raw water to several industries in Ashtabula Township and its reliability is thereby tied to job retention and economic development.

“The port purchased Plant C to ensure that more than 1,200 local jobs would be saved, and to acquire a valuable resource as we work to redevelop this county’s economy,” said Sean Ratican, executive director of the port authority. “The $1.55 million EDA grant, combined with the $1.55 million local match, will be used to replace aging infrastructure at the plant that dates back to the 1940s and ’50s.”

The grant was announced more than a year ago.

“It has been a process, and there were a few hurdles along the way, but this was a team effort,” Ratican said. “The port worked in conjunction with the commissioners, Sen. Sherrod Brown and the EDA to move this project to the next step. The help and support of the port’s board and local officials have been integral as we navigated the waters while seeking approval at the federal level to take the next step.”

The permission to proceed was welcome news on the first work day of the new year, bringing a positive reaction from all three county commissioners.

“As commissioners we have been working for several years to ensure a reliable source of water for the customers, businesses and the employees of the companies who depend on this water source to grow their businesses and secure the jobs. This approval to proceed is a critical step in that process,” said Commissioner Joe Moroski.

“This is absolutely great news for Ashtabula County,” said Commissioner Peggy Carlo. “By receiving this EDA grant, this will secure jobs and open the door for immediate and future opportunities. We are extremely pleased with the cooperation and collaboration by all of the stakeholders in obtaining this grant.”

“I just want to thank the port authority and everyone who had a part in getting this grant. This project, and this grant, would not have been possible without the hard work of the port, and the support of the local businesses that have worked with us every step of the way,” Commissioner Daniel Claypool said. “This project will really move the industry and economy of Ashtabula County forward. By renovating this pump station, we are taking a step forward in the redevelopment of this county. This is a good day for our county.”

By replacing the water pumping infrastructure at Plant C, the authority is solidifying one of the county’s greatest economic development resources — raw water. The plant is permitted to draw 200 million gallons of raw water from the lake each day, a capacity that is one of the greatest sources of raw water in the state of Ohio.

“Approval on the “C” plant project is great news. I know that there was a tremendous about of effort to get the approval. It shows the excellent support that the Port and Commissioners are demonstrating for infrastructure projects in support of manufacturing in Ashtabula County,” said Scott Strayer, site director at Cristal Global.

“Praxair appreciates everyone's efforts that have taken us to this point. A refurbished water pumping infrastructure will be a tremendous asset to current and future Ashtabula businesses who rely on a reliable source of raw water to create and sell their products,” said Andrew Zimmerle, on-site business manager for Praxair, Inc.

The Ashtabula County Port Authority originally purchased the former coal fired power plant from First Energy, nearly six years ago through a partnership with Cristal Global and Praxair. The purchase was necessary to prevent the site from ceasing operations. Working in conjunction with the Ashtabula County Commissioners and the two manufacturers, the authority took ownership of the property, thus guaranteeing that water would flow from Lake Erie to the industry located in Ashtabula Township.

“Now that we have received permission to proceed to bid, we will finalize the plans and specs for the project, and take the last steps necessary to publish the bid documents,” he said. “The RFP will be out as soon as possible, and we hope to see a large number of local bidders. Not only will this project allow us to invest in the infrastructure necessary for manufacturing in Ashtabula County, but it will also allow us to put some local people to work during the winter months when construction projects are usually dormant.”

The port authority expects to release the bid documents later this month and have proposals back in February. Thus, the project could commence before the ground thaws.

“There is some lead time in ordering a lot of the larger components, like the 36-inch pipe and electrical switch gear,” Ratican said. “But the permission to proceed to bid is the holiday gift we were hoping for. Now it’s time to go to work.”

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