By DENISE GRANT
Findlay Council approved an agreement Tuesday with the Hancock County commissioners that sets the terms for a joint endeavor to improve three main city thoroughfares, with the goal of keeping them open during a major flood.
Council gave a third reading to the legislation during its regular session, and approved it with a 10-0 vote.
Despite the river benching project, cleaning of the river and clearing of the floodway, officials still anticipate that a major flood will make travel through the city difficult.
Roadways identified in the agreement include: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way; East Sandusky Street at both Hancock County 180 and Lye Creek; and Western Avenue at Findlay Street.
The county has agreed to use the remaining balance of its flood fund to pay for preliminary engineering, detail design, construction and land acquisition, if necessary, for the improvements, and to grant the City of Findlay access to the properties.
The city agreed to contract for all of the work and the land acquisition, and to use the county’s funds accordingly. The city also agreed to provide any city-owned property that may be needed to construct the improvements at no cost to the county.
Findlay also agreed to permanently maintain all improvements. The city will also provide legal and administrative services to acquire any privately-owned property needed for the construction, with the county to pay the final settlement costs for the property.
In an interview with The Courier prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Steve Wilson, a retired Hancock County engineer who now serves as a project manager for the county, said the roadways were selected because they are needed to keep traffic moving during a flood.
In the future, there may be more, he said.
Asked why Main Street wasn’t included on the list, Wilson said it would be “near impossible” to elevate Main Street enough to keep it passable during a major flood, despite the flood-control projects.
The goal of the “transportation corridor” improvements is to minimize their closure during a major flood, not to keep them dry.
Separately Tuesday, no action was taken on a tabled ordinance that would allow for the sale of a city-owned parking lot to the Blanchard Valley Port Authority as part of a $31 million downtown development.
Council met in closed executive session June 4 to discuss the potential sale of the city parking lot behind The Wine Merchant and the former Rieck’s building.
The Blanchard Valley Port Authority wants to buy the parking lot from the city and later sell it to Tim Youngpeter, a developer who would build a six-story retail and residential development in and around the empty space where the Argyle apartment building once stood.
Of the 58 spaces in the city parking lot, the city leases out 32, and 26 are for public parking.
Under a draft of the purchase/sale agreement, public parking would be available in 26 spots in the parking garage that would be part of Youngpeter’s building.