By JOY BROWN
With construction season commencing, Findlay City Council on Tuesday agreed to accept state and county funding for some street repaving and curb projects.
Separately, a resident expressed concern about the idea of enhancing existing building codes or creating a property maintenance code.
A total of $747,069 was accepted from the state and Hancock County for four resurfacing projects planned for this year. Those include North Main Street from Bigelow Avenue to Hancock County 99; South Main Street from Woodley Avenue to the southern city limits; West Sandusky Street from Glessner to Western avenues; and Sixth Street from South Main to Park streets, and from Amelia to Blanchard avenues.
The county will pay for Sixth Street paving that extends outside of the corporation limits, city administrators said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has allocated $592,000 for those projects. Another $148,000 will come from the county’s permissive license fund, and $7,069 from the Hancock County commissioners’ budget.
Mayor Lydia Mihalik said after the meeting she did not know offhand the city’s share of those repaving projects. The city portion will come out of the capital improvements fund.
The city’s 2014 capital improvements plan calls for $1.85 million to be spent on street maintenance and repaving.
The city has not yet released a comprehensive list of streets to be addressed this year. In 2013, it spent more than $1 million to repave about 20 streets.
Also appropriated Tuesday was $162,000 in capital improvement money for curb replacement on East Sandusky and North Main streets.
Curbing and ramp replacements have already begun on a portion of East Sandusky. Resurfacing will come next, which is being done entirely by the state.
Separately, Tom Ross, president of the Findlay Area Apartment Association, urged council members to not pass any legislation that would enhance existing building codes or create a property maintenance code. Those ideas have been contemplated for several years, and the association has spoken out against them.
“We are vehemently opposed to any such legislation,” Ross said, “for one simple reason: we believe you have an enforcement issue, not a legislative issue.”
Ross said enhancement of existing laws would cause distressed properties to be on the market longer, thereby driving down prices and property values.
“Who do you think buys those properties? Landlords and property managers. We risk our capital” to improve them, Ross said.
Ron Monday, 3rd Ward councilman, said he didn’t think Findlay had a residential building code. Law Director Don Rasmussen said the city has never adopted such a code. The state’s commercial building code is on the books, and is enforced via Wood County building inspectors.
Ross disputed that, saying an enforcement division officer from the Ohio Department of Commerce told him that Findlay was subject to “general law” when it comes to building codes.
“We do have a residential building code. We are simply not enforcing it,” Ross said.
Councilman-At-Large Grant Russel requested that Ross submit to council notes from the conversation he had with the state worker.
Separately, Tony Grotrain impressed upon council the need to continue to combat heroin addiction in the community.
Since his grandson died of an overdose in 2009, Grotrain has been a fixture at court hearings and council meetings, where he has monitored the problem and distributed law enforcement and health-related statistics. He also serves on a drug prevention task force, and has traveled to Columbus to speak to state officials and groups.
Fifth Ward Councilman John Harrington said he is interested in finding ways to reduce the heroin problem. He suggested the idea of hiring more undercover police officers.
Mihalik said the Police Department still plans to hire six more officers this year, and said she would discuss the matter with Chief Greg Horne. She suggested council members also speak with organizations that deal with the heroin problem to get their ideas.