CONNEAUT — An agreement has been reached to allow the city to lease land for a facility to process material dredged from Conneaut’s port.

A final draft of the lease with Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad Company, a subsidiary of Canadian National, was introduced at Monday night’s meeting of the Conneaut City Council, after months of negotiation.

The lease will allow for construction of a facility to process the dirt and other materials dredged from Conneaut’s deep-water port.

When the harbor has been dredged in the past, the material has been dumped into the lake, a practice that will no longer be allowed starting July 1, 2020.

In 2015, the Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which included the open-lake dumping ban, along with rules for fertilizer application. 

To comply with the new law, Conneaut plans to construct a facility to separate  the dredged material into its components, which can then be sold. The process uses gravity to separate sand, dirt and stone from water.

The city has been in talks with Canadian National for several months, negotiating a lease for land owned by the railway.

The project is being funded by a $4 million grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A ceremonial check was presented to the city at a meeting in January.

In other business

 • Council passed an ordinance limiting the amount of vacation time city employees can be compensated for when retiring or leaving the city’s employment. The new rule was introduced in October, and applies to employees who are not part of a collective bargaining unit.

The new rule limits unclassified employees to 400 hours of vacation time, unless they are currently above that amount. If an employee has more than 400 hours accumulated, their current amount of vacation is their new maximum.

The rule brings unclassified employees in line with the city’s collective bargaining units, city manager Jim Hockaday said.

Excessive pay-outs for vacation have cost the city significantly in the past, Hockaday said.

• Ordinances were introduced to create funds to receive grant funds from various bodies for projects that are in progress. The first fund would be for money for work on Chestnut and Middle streets. This is the third phase of work on Chestnut Street over the course of several years. The other fund will be for money for the city’s dredged material facility.

No action was taken on creating the funds, because two council members were absent, meaning that procedural rules could not be waived.

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