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The Daily



08-23-03: Pathway clear for boardwalk

    State authorities in control of the Grand Lake St. Marys shoreline on West Bank Road have given city planners preliminary approval for a boardwalk design.
    Celina Community Develop-ment Director Sue Canary on Friday afternoon informed the personnel and finance committee of Celina City Council that a stumbling block on the road to a boardwalk on the lakeshore has been cleared. The head of the Ohio Department of Natural  Resources (ODNR) division of dams accepted an alternate city plan, after several earlier ideas died in planning.
    Jay Korte, with Celina's engineering department, said the verbally-approved plan involves extending the existing rip-rap shoreline out several feet and constructing a wide walkway on top.
    The jagged rocks that line the sea wall, called rip-rap, are there to allow a clear view of the embankment itself. State officials did not approve of earlier plans to cover the rocks.
    The plan calls for extending the rip-rap and covering a wide portion of it with granular fill and grass. Next to the current concrete walkway would be a wide grassy area that stretched the shoreline then a 10- to 14-foot-wide walkway with boat docks, Korte explained to the committee with a marker board.
    The idea, hatched by state Rep. Keith Faber (Celina) in a recent meeting with state and city officials, satisfied ODNR because the grass would still allow a clear view of the embankment's structure, Korte said.
    Faber helped spur the boardwalk train by securing $250,000 from the 2003-2004 state capital projects budget for the project. More than $600,000 was included in the same state appropriation for upgrades to Wright State University-Lake Campus.
    Canary is working on grant avenues using the $250,000 as matching funds for other state grants that could give hundreds of thousand of dollars for the project, which is estimated at $1.5 million.
    Korte said the new plan is one of the more cost-effective ideas so far.
    "So that's where we are on this right now, and I think it's going to save us a lot of money," he said.
    Canary asked the council members in attendance Friday to consider a request for $10,000 from the general fund contingency account to cover the engineering cost of having Burgess & Niple of Columbus draw up the design documents for the project to submit to the state.
    The city's contingency fund is an account in the general fund that contains dollars that weren't appropriated to other accounts - a back-up fund. With deductions removed for a supplemental appropriation pending before city council, the fund holds $53,000.
    Korte said about $4,000 has been spent already on planning, from funds designated for consulting fees.
    As the project progresses, city administrators said Celina should perform about $200,000 in street lighting and electrical work and street repair that will be needed along West Bank Road. Such work can sometimes be used as matching funds for state grants.
    Canary on Friday said she doesn't anticipate resistance gaining the needed approvals of ODNR division of parks, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, since the division of dams is on board.
    Council members briefly discussed other issues currently pressing in the city, such as storm sewers, drinking water and aging streets. Councilors Sharon LaRue and Angie King questioned the city's priorities in spending money for a boardwalk.
    "Can you convince me why this project is more important?" LaRue asked her colleagues.
    Members Denny Smith and Rick Bachelor stressed rareness of the opportunity being handed $250,000 for a boardwalk from the state.
    The increased residential, business and recreational use of West Bank Road that should be impacted by a boardwalk will benefit the entire city, including the budget, Bachelor said.
    "To me this is good for the city," Smith said. "This is not a decision between projects and needs."
    "Do you take what is offered and work with it, or do you reject it outright," Bachelor hypothetically surmised about the $250,000.
    Mayor Paul Arnold said the city's various problems have progressed over many years and are more than can be corrected with current budget amounts. For nearly 20 years the city stuck with a 1 percent income tax rate while costs continue compounding every year, he said.
    "I can tell you right now, you're going to have to find a new source of revenue, and you're going to have to go to the voters for it," Arnold said.
    "It's OK, I'm a lame duck," he joked of being the one who mentions raising income taxes.


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