Local grass-roots group
has been working on a plan
By SEAN RICE
Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue is squashing concerns that efforts
to build a boardwalk along West Bank Road are failing. In fact,
the mayor recently asserted, the efforts will payoff, due in
part to a group of people that has been working toward making
the project a reality.
City council member Angie King chastised city administration
officials during a public hearing this week for not having a
sound boardwalk plan.
“We are just grabbing at things as they come,” King
said. “There’s been no foresight, no planning.”
City council rejected an emergency resolution in January that
would have allowed Community Development Director Sue Canary
to re-apply for two state grants worth more than $400,000 for
the boardwalk. Celina was rejected for those two Ohio Department
of Natural Resources (ODNR) grants in 2002.
Canary is using a $250,000 allotment from the 2002-2004 state
capital budget, secured by state Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina),
as “seed money” to leverage larger grants.
Canary announced in January that the city could borrow money
to help build the West Bank Road walkway, using a plan to make
repayments from the newly created Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
district. The idea caused concern among some council members.
A TIF district was created near West Bank Road last year as
a development tool to accumulate a portion of property tax dollars
from the district for infrastructure improvements. In a TIF
district, any increased property tax payments from new construction
are diverted into a special TIF fund.
Council members have not yet discussed how to use the potentially
hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be gained from the
TIF distirct, or about the timeline of grant applictions for
LaRue said Monday there were efforts by some council members
in late January to call an emergency council meeting to try
again to pass the resolution to apply for the two ODNR grants
before the early Feburary deadline. She said she squashed that
notion because the application was not much more impressive
than the initial rejected application.
LaRue countered King’s claim of insufficient planning
for the boardwalk, stating a grass-roots group of individuals
who want to see the boardwalk built have been meeting and working
on a plan.
“We will be letting you know how it’s going,”
LaRue said. “I know we’ve been working on this project
for two years, but I can assure you, we are going to get somewhere,”
The Daily Standard has learned the group working toward the
boardwalk includes LaRue, Westlake Village builder Vern Hoying,
Lake Contracting owner Jeff Larmore, Bella’s Italian Grille
owner Julie Fleck, Rockford Construction Service’s Randy
Bruns, Wright State University-Lake Campus Assistant Dean Tom
Knapke and council member Collin Bryan.
Two meetings have been scheduled to help council members and
the public understand the financing options for the boardwalk.
A municipal financing meeting is set for at 8 p.m Tuesday to
learn about all the types of financing options for cities, and
a TIF informational meeting is set for March 4.
“I think those meetings will answer a lot of questions
council may have about what can be done with the TIF,”
Canary said Friday.