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Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Construction can begin on walkway

By Timothy Cox
Construction of the West Bank Rotary Walkway finally will happen after the project cleared its final legislative hurdles Monday.
Celina City Council members meeting in special session approved borrowing $1.3 million to pay for the first phase of the project and to buy a tract of land for a wetlands creation project that is tied to the state permit needed to build the walkway. Council members had twice been thwarted in their attempts to get the issues passed because of absences and opposition among council members.
Councilman Ed Jeffries continued his opposition to the project, voting against both measures at Monday's meeting. But the 6-1 votes in favor of the project provided the necessary supermajority required to pass emergency legislation.
Council members approved the issues as emergencies so the ordinances take effect immediately, and the contractor can begin working on the project.
This is only the first phase of the walkway project, which will involve about half of the linear feet of the path, separated by a large gap in between the northern and southern parts of the path. The rest of the path along with a breakwater structure and other possible enhancements, will come in the second phase of the project.
The project will be paid for mostly through a tax increment finance (TIF) district set up in the area. The TIF diverts property taxes on new development into separate accounts to pay for public infrastructure projects. City officials plan to take out a revenue anticipation note to finance the work and then pay down the debt with annual TIF revenue.
Shinn Brothers, Celina, was the low bidder on the path at $850,000. The additional money will be spent to add lighting, resurface West Bank Road and add some extra feet of pathway in advance of the second phase. The eventual milelong path will be built over about 20 feet of filled-in lake surface area.
The city also has purchased a 5-acre tract of land along Coldwater Creek for the required wetlands project. The site will be excavated to lower its elevation and make it flood-prone. The topsoil then will be used as part of the path project.
The undeveloped tract of land cost the city $63,000.
The wetlands project was mandated by the Ohio EPA to make up for the lake surface area that will be lost to make room for the path.
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