CONNEAUT — There’s a lot going on in Conneaut this year; $14 millions of dollars worth of work is scheduled to take place this year.
Council President Jon Arcaro plans to focus on carrying out the city’s comprehensive plan, he said. “We worked on that for many years, and that’s what we’re going to be doing,” Arcaro said.
Of that $14 million in projects, $9 million, or roughly 70 percent of the city’s capital improvement projects, is made up of grant funds, City Manager Jim Hockaday said.
Two $4 million projects make up the bulk of that grant money.
Dredged material facility
The first $4 million project is the city’s planned dredged material facility, which will be built on land leased from Canadian National.
Senate Bill 1, passed in 2015, prohibits dumping material dredged from harbors into Lake Erie, a practice called open lake dumping. To comply with changes in state law, the city will construct a dredged material processing facility on land leased from Canadian National Railroad. The lease was approved in December.
Conneaut is one of eight ports in Ohio to receive grants from the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural resources. Ashtabula is also a recipient of the grant.
Conneaut received a $4 million grant from the Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the construction of the facility.
“We definitely need to get it bid, designed, and under construction [this year],” Hockaday said.
The other $4 million project is repaving work on Route 20, west of Parrish Road. The $4 million is expected to pay for a full reconstruction of Route 20, from Parrish Road to Gore Road.
Planning for the project will take place this year, with work on the section of road taking place in 2021, Hockaday said.
This year, sections of Broad Street and Lake Road will be paved as part of ODOT’s Urban Paving Program. Broad Street will be paved from Jackson Street to Lake Road, and Lake Road will be paved from Broad Street to Whitney Road. The city is responsible for $315,000, 10 percent of the project’s cost. The rest of the project will be paid for by ODOT.
Route 7 and Interstate 90 will hopefully see an uptick in traffic in the latter part of the year, thanks to Truck World, a new gas station and truck stop being built across Route 7 from Love’s Travel Stop. Truck World is expected to increase the traffic on Route 7 by 50 percent, Hockaday said previously. That increase will make the area more appealing to retailers, he added.
The city, along with the Conneaut and A-Tech school boards, passed a Tax Increment Financing document last year. The system will use the increase in property taxes from the construction of Truck World to pay for improvements to the intersection of Route 7 and Loves Drive, which is directly across Route 7 from the entrance to Truck World.
Improvements also include a traffic signal, turning lanes and paving a section of Underridge Road.
Once the improvements have been paid for, the TIF will dissolve, officials have said.
Truck World initially proposed building a facility on the site in 2017, and the company purchased the land in 2018. Truck World owns around 130 acres of land along Route 7, according to county records.
Arcaro hopes to have partnerships between the city and private businesses. “I’m very in favor of whenever we can work with a private entity to develop. We have to do whatever we can do to assist them in developing here in the city,” Arcaro said. Ways of doing that include Joint Economic Districts and TIFs, he said.
“I’m not talking where we give away everything without any return, but it has to be a balancing act,” Arcaro said
Additionally, the damaged wind turbine next to the city’s wastewater treatment plant is expected to be torn down. City officials included $163,000 in this year’s budget to tear the turbine down. Council approved a request for proposals on Monday. Proposals will be opened at noon on Jan. 30, Hockaday said.
Hockaday hopes to award a contract for the demolition at the first council meeting in February, he said.
Water treatment plant
A less visible but more expensive project is scheduled for the city’s water treatment plant.
The city’s budget has $1.5 million marked for work on the water treatment plant. The improvement includes variable frequency drives to draw water out of Lake Erie, along with new filters and a valve turner.
The drives can be set to a specific speed, to control how much water comes into the plant, Hockaday said. The pumps currently at the plant do not have that capability, and the flow of water into the plant is controlled by a valve.
The new drains will improve the flow of water, and the filter media needs to be replaced periodically, Hockaday said.
The valve turner is part of added requirements for the city’s water system. The city will be required to have a valve turning program, and manually turning valves is a common cause of injury, Hockaday said.
For 2020 as a whole, Hockaday hopes for the city to continue to do well. “I think we continue to grow,” Hockaday said. “We’ve shown and posted growth the last several years. And we can demonstrate that whether that’s through income tax numbers or however you want to measure it. So we hope to continue to grow. I mean, that’s our goal.”
Arcaro also stated that the city needs to work to keep young people in Conneaut. “What do we provide, the amenities within in the community, that will attract and keep young people here?” he said.
Winter time activities and making the city more bicycle accessible are things Arcaro would like to see happen to keep people in Conneaut.
“We have our goals and our goals and our vision set out in the comprehensive plan, and we’ll work to bring that plan to fruition. And of course, anything along the way where we can get some new businesses into the city is definitely a boon,” Arcaro said.