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The Daily



10-02-03: Celina officials touting lakefront improvement plan as it faces referendum vote


This week Celina officials began a campaign to seek support for the city’s proposed Grand Lake St. Marys lakefront revitalization.
City administration prepared a one-page information sheet to go in utility bills this month with points about the master plan in response to a referendum challenging the council ordinance supporting it. Some city council members briefly reviewed the pamphlet in committee this week and discussed proposed plans for a lakefront pavilion.
The council passed the ordinance last year adopting the Celina downtown and lakefront revitalization master plan, which provides a long-range outline of proposed improvements for the lakefront.
The ordinance under referendum says the council adopts the plan, giving it the city’s seal of approval. At the time the ordinance was passed in late 2002, the 30-plus page master plan had already been presented to the council and public. The ordinance, city officials said, would be used to show grant givers that the city endorsed a long-range plan of action.
The document lays out proposed plans to redevelop the downtown and the lakefront, with many detailed points. It shows a boardwalk, beaches, new residential areas near the lake, a relocated U.S. 127 and a relocated Lake Shore Drive, among many other proposals.
Celina resident Don Gehle, and others, circulated the petitions for a referendum vote on the adoption of the plan after the council approved the plan. The petition seeks a referendum to rescind that ordinance.
At the request of council, City Law Director Kevin McKirnan ruled in September that the city had the authority to campaign for its position on the referendum issue. They decided to begin an educational campaign in support of their action on the long-term plan.
Celina Community Development Director Sue Canary told council members Monday a list of commonly asked questions will be sent out with utility bills.
“To the best of my knowledge, these facts are true,” Canary told the committee.
Canary said she believed “the single biggest issue” in the plan was the idea of relocating Lake shore Drive.
Council member Denny Smith said the only items being acted on in the master plan are the boardwalk planned for West Bank Road and a park area for the former Hawk property on Lake Shore Drive.
“Moving 127, Lake shore Drive, the beach, those are not part of going forward from this point,” Smith said. “That’s not to say it will never happen in the future.”
“I see it as a 20-year, a 30-year plan,” Council member Bob Nuding said. “It’s an idea.’
Smith said the plan fits in to Celina’s future, because state officials said “it is their intention to improve this side of the lake.”
“How many time have you heard: ‘Why does the east side of the lake get all this stuff and we get nothing?’” Nuding asked.
In the mailing, Canary points out that the plans do not call for removing areas for fishing, and it is not the city’s plan to follow through with all the ideas in the master plan.
“The lakefront development is an investment in the future, by capitalizing on a unique asset, our lake. It is the city’s intention to make improvements at a minimal cost to the general fund,” the information sheet reads.
Canary presented to the community development committee Monday a set of drawings prepared with help from Jared Ebbing from Fanning/Howey Associates depicting a pavilion and park area in North Shore Park on the former “Hawk property.”
Just west of the boat launch on Lake Shore Drive, the bare three acres was once the site of an animal fat rendering company and was last owned by Bob Hawk, Mayor Paul Arnold told The Daily Standard.
The proposal includes closing off Ash Street south of the railroad tracks for more grass and parking. The drawing shows an amphitheater in the northwest corner of the Hawk property and a community center on the north property line. The grass is sloped upward from the amphitheater with two long concrete sitting walls that also provide support for the slope. In the area closest to the lake, fountains and landscaping are pictured along with tiered bench seating facing the amphitheater.
Lake shore Drive is maintained in the drawing, but decorative concrete was shown, like a cobblestone street. Canary said public response to the revitalization plan showed most people do not want to relocate the street away from the shoreline.
Smith said the decorative concrete in the street, fountains and elevated seating can provide a sense of separation from the street.
Arnold said the pavilion was one of the main reasons he started organizing the master plan, and he hopes to gain the support and assistance of local businesses to make the pavilion a reality.
Arnold said the plan was created to have something to work with when seeking funding.
“How can you solicit funds for something if you don’t know what you’re soliciting for?” Canary queried.
“We have some good prospects that have alluded to the point that they might help us when we get to that point,” Arnold said.
The simple color design drawing was created at no cost to the city.
The committee, seeing the plan on paper for the first time, had minimal comments.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the concept,” council member Rick Bachelor said, adding he needs to contemplate it.


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