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02-21-04: Mayor: Boardwalk plan is progressing

Local grass-roots group has been working on a plan


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 the boardwalk.
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,” she continued.
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.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822


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