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01-27-04: Celina will not seek funding for boardwalk


Celina City Council denied a motion Monday night that would have allowed community development director Sue Canary to apply for grants to fund part of the West Bank Road boardwalk project.
Council members Denny Smith and Angie King gave the negative votes that stripped Canary’s ability to apply for Clean Ohio Trails and Recreational Trails grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Canary applied for the two grants totaling nearly $600,000 last year and was denied.
She had planned to apply for the grants again this year, and an emergency resolution was presented Monday to allow her to meet the Feb. 1 deadline. Council member King questioned the short notice of the resolution, before she and Smith provided the no votes to deny the emergency clause.
The grants would have provided funding for phase two of construction, which would extend the boardwalk from the Beaver Creek Spillway to Sugar Street. Phase one would take the boardwalk from the Grand Lake State Park boat launch to the spillway.
The only funding lined-up for the mile-long concrete walkway planned for the Grand Lake shoreline of West Bank Road is a $250,000 allotment from the 2003-2004 state capital budget, secured by state Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina).
The entire boardwalk is estimated to cost more than $1 million. On Monday, Canary said phase one of construction also could be funded by borrowing against future revenue generated by the tax increment financing (TIF) district that was established.
A TIF district recently was enacted for the area along West Bank Road, which will, over the course of years, generate funds for infrastructure improvements in the district. In a TIF district, property taxes are paid by the property owners just as before the district was created. Each year when property values increase because of improvements or inflation, the increase in taxes paid is directed to a TIF account.
Councilman Smith said members have not yet discussed how to spend future TIF funds, and a committee will need to meet to discuss Canary’s plans.
Some audience members Monday voiced opposition to another grant program under consideration by city administration. Council members briefly discussed the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) revitalization program that can provide more than $1 million for downtown building upgrades.
The main part of the grant provides up to $400,000 for building and property upgrades in the designated downtown district. That “tier two” grant requires a 100 percent match and can be applied for three times. Before that program is applied to, $15,000 is available to prepare the planning documents, engineering and community dialogue that is required.
Rules of the program require 20 percent of the building or business owners in the district to participate, and the city must contribute at least 10 percent, or $40,000. The remainder of the match funds required can be tallied with donations and by combining other concurrent projects, private and public. Also a downtown district would have to be created. Council member Rick Bachelor said it would be an extended downtown, reaching down West Bank Road.
King asked if business owners are on board, or if the projects to be applied for have been picked out yet.
“The planning grant is to find out these things, to put the documentation together for what we need for tier two,” Bachelor said.
“And where is that $40,000 for tier two going to come from? We don’t have that right now,” King asked.
“And we don’t need it right now,” Bachelor quickly replied, stating that tier two wouldn’t occur until 2005 or 2006.
Former city councilor and audience member Ed Jeffries said the council is ignoring the will of residents.
“In November, the voters went to the polls and said ‘no’ to downtown revitalization, no to the boardwalk and the whole thing,” Jeffries said. “But the city chooses to ignore that.”
Celina resident Don Kohnen also chastised members for missteps in economic development and the Havemann Road widening project, and said city residents are “paying for administration’s past judgmental errors.”
In other business, council members:
• Passed an emergency ordinance raising water rates 20 percent, effective March 1.
• Passed the first reading of an ordinance abolishing the position of executive assistant to the mayor and laying off the employee who filled the position until recently, Diane Link.
• Entered an executive session to discuss personnel negotiations involving the executive assistant position. No action was taken after the closed-door meeting.


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