By MARK TODD



Staff Writer

mtodd@starbeacon.com



CONNEAUT -- A massive face lift planned for the East Conneaut Industrial Park means a new home is ahead for the city's popular compost site, said City Manager Douglas Lewis.

Administrators already have begun studying alternate locations for the compost operation, which occupies a southwest portion of the industrial park, which is bisected by East Main Road (Route 20).

"I've already talked with Public Works Department," Lewis said.

The site, which opened several years ago, is the local depository for organic waste -- grass clippings, leaves, limbs -- gathered by city workers and residents. Periodically, a massive grinding machine arrives to pulverize the debris into mulch or wood chips.

Residents love the site, which recently opened for the season. The site is open on Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays, and traffic is heavy especially on the weekend, according to John Roach, Public Works Department director.

The success of the site has prompted North Kingsville to seek permission for its residents to use the operation. "It's very popular," Roach said.

Some residents fear the city won't bother to relocate the compost operation once the industrial park improvements begin. That won't happen, Roach said. Ideally, the site would be put on another chunk of city-owned land, he said.

"There are no plans for it to disappear," Roach said.

Nearly two years ago, Conneaut secured federal dollars to help boost the park's infrastructure. Expanded utilities, roads and street lights are part of the plans.

The city continues to work with Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County to find the matching funds needed to start the first phase of the project, Lewis said. Work on the park program could begin this fall or early next year, he said.

The industrial park is carved from land Conneaut acquired during the late 1990s from USX Corp. to help attract a state prison. The effort paid off in April 2000, when the Lake Erie Correctional Institution began operations.

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