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City outlines capital improvement plans

By JOY BROWN
STAFF WRITER

An expanded capital improvements list for this year is awaiting Findlay City Council’s approval.

Proposed at a Thursday meeting of council’s Appropriations Committee, the administrative wish list, if approved, would allow for nearly $4 million more in capital improvement spending than last year using city income tax money.

Grants, license fees, and water and sewage revenue also would help pay for capital projects. The total of projects and debt repayment would be $33.4 million this year.

Some projects, such as waterline replacements, intersection upgrades and street repaving will likely face little argument.

Administrators are proposing $1.85 million of the city’s money be spent on street maintenance and repaving this year, along with $738,400 in Ohio Department of Transportation money.

Other projects may be debated.

For instance, money is proposed for two ditch-cleaning projects in the city. If approved, the city would contribute $300,000 toward cleaning Dalzell Ditch, which would cover about half of that project’s cost.

The clogged ditch is partially to blame for flash-flooding problems in Findlay’s north end, but cleaning it has been an ongoing issue for decades, with watershed residents successfully lobbying the Hancock County commissioners to not move forward with assessments.

In another proposal, the city would pay the full $150,000 cost of cleaning Oil Ditch.

Former County Engineer Steve Wilson, who continues to perform engineering work for the city on a part-time basis, said Oil Ditch hasn’t been cleaned since 1982. The city paid for the work back then.

This ditch runs near the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks to the west of The Courier building, to Lima Avenue and the West Park subdivision.

Ditches, even those located within the city, are the responsibility of the county to clean. But Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said he thinks the city should shoulder some of the fiscal burden.

In other proposals, a total of $25,000 is being requested for engineering planning, to examine the possibility of building two more baseball fields, a “Miracle Field” for the handicapped, and more parking near the Cube. Schmelzer said individuals have expressed an interest in raising at least half of the construction funds for the fields.

The city also proposes to spend $350,000 over two years for pedestrian and traffic improvements, and safety upgrades in city rights of way within the Downtown Findlay Improvement District.

Schmelzer said for this year, he’s hoping council agrees to spend $40,000 for consulting work that would provide vital information for an Ohio Department of Transportation grant application. The state has said it is interested in working with the city on extensive improvements, including rerouting Ohio 12 traffic over the Martin Luther King Jr. overpass instead of on North Main Street to Center Street, if Findlay is willing to pitch in financially, he said.

“I think this is a big deal. There’s a lot of revitalization going on downtown. There will be improvements with the performing arts center. I think it’s incumbent upon the city to take care of rights of way,” Schmelzer said.

There is a potential to capture $800,000 in state grant money, he said. “I think it would behoove us in a serious way to look at those opportunities.”

Some other large projects proposed for this year include:

• A $1.4 million waterline extension north of the city to the Hancock County Landfill;
• A $1.4 million “bar screen” project to help with separating wastewater solids;
• South-end water tower painting and repairing for $800,000;
• Clear well repairs at the water treatment plant for $2.1 million.

Some less expensive, but more visible projects would include:

• Replacing the Municipal Building’s second-floor, west-side windows and attaching hurricane shutters for $100,000;
• Replacing 15 light poles at Riverside Park using LED bulbs, the first part of a three-phase replacement project;
• Replacing the rubber surface at Riverside Park’s Kiddie Corral for $37,000;
• Completing another section of the city’s “looped” waterline project along Hancock County 99 from County 142 to Forest Trail;
• Replacing a waterline at Glessner Avenue and West Sandusky Street for $170,000;
• Spending $25,000 to plan and design new storm sewers in the Colonial Heights subdivision at Rosewood Avenue, Greenacre Drive and Mona Lane, to minimize flash-flooding;
• A $25,000 engineering study to identify traffic flow alternatives at the intersection of Blanchard and Sixth streets.

A five-year capital improvements plan, overhauled last year, was also reintroduced. It shows the potential progression of projects and planned debt payments through 2018.
Capital improvement legislation is expected to be introduced at City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday.

The Appropriations Committee on Tuesday specified that council will make any alterations it feels are necessary to the plans.

A complete list of proposed expenses can be viewed at the city engineering office on the Municipal Building’s third floor.

Brown: 419-427-8496
Send an E-mail to Joy Brown
Twitter: @CourierJoy

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