Council fills vacancy, prepares for widening

November 15, 2013

Matt Echelberry

Inquirer Reporter

Galion City Council had 11 items of legislation on the agenda for its Nov. 12 meeting. Five of them related to the Portland Way widening project, which is set to happen next year.

First on the agenda was filling the vacant First Ward seat. Former Councilman Andy Daniels had resigned from the position in October due to a residency change.

That evening Council passed a motion to fill the vacancy with Eric Webber, who was elected as the First Ward Councilman beginning in 2014. Council President Don Faulds swore him in and he took a seat at the table.

Council also elected Mike Richart as President Pro Tempore (Andy Daniels previously held this position). In order to correct vacancies within the committees, Council President Don Faulds appointed Webber to the Utilities Committee and Richart to the Finance Committee.

Ord. 2013-83 amended the 2013 appropriations for funding the Portland Way project. The local share is $430,000 and the rest is paid for by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Since 2009, the city has spent a total of $753,057 on engineering costs alone (minus a $140,000 reimbursement from ODOT).

Also included in the ordinance is funding for the construction of Philip S. Hesby Drive. It will be a new road that connects the school campus to Bucyrus Road and Portland Way. The project has a total cost of $1,160,000, which includes site preparation, sewer and waterline installation and the construction of the roadway.

According to the legislation, costs for the two projects will be paid from the following:

$400,000 from the Stormwater Fund

$345,000 from the General Fund

$345,000 from the Street Construction, Maintenance and Repair Fund

$220,000 from the Street Improvement Fund

$150,000 from the Water Fund

$130,000 from the State Highway Fund

Council member Jon Kleinknecht asked if the cost of the Hesby Drive project included sidewalks.

Mayor Tom O’Leary said it did not but further explained the city has already talked with school officials. They understand the need for sidewalks and have also discussed the possibility of a bike path, but no deal has been reached.

Also noted during the discussion is that the plan does not include connecting the new road with the Galion West Shopping Center. Whether or not a road/temporary road is put in place, as a connector, is in the hands of the property owner and the businesses in that area.

Council member Tom Fellner felt that the city needs to do its part to try to make that happen, in order to help those businesses.

Joe Kleinknecht, president and CEO of the Galion-Crestline Chamber of Commerce, agreed and asked about getting a conversation started with those businesses.

O’Leary responded that he is open to getting that going, but did not want to “overreach.” Now that the project funding is secured, he said he will try to figure out how to open a dialog.

Ord. 2013-83 then passed as a first reading.

In a related matter, Ord. 2013-84 authorized the Safety-Service Director to accept easements and acquisitions for private property located on Portland Way, to secure a temporary right-of-way for the widening project. It pertained to 11 parcels at a total cost of $59,100; the highest cost was $42,000 and the lowest was $300. The easements and acquisitions are to be paid from the account the city had previously set aside for the project.

This item passed as an emergency.

The next three ordinances were also related to property acquisition for the project. Law Director Roberta Wade explained that Nov. 18 is the deadline to have all of the properties either under contract or in court. Ordinances 2013-85, 2013-86 and 2013-87 gave consent for the appropriation of property interests for the widening project.

Each one pertains to a specific commercial property that is not currently under contract. In all of the cases, the city must deal with the corporate company rather than local ownership. Property values have been agreed to, but the necessary paperwork had not been returned to the city as of the meeting.

The first was for Speedway and the negotiated value was $1,950.

The second was for McDonald’s and the negotiated value was $300.

The third was for First Merit Bank and the negotiated value was $1,111.

All three ordinances passed as emergencies. If those properties do not return the paperwork this week, the city will take them to court on Monday in order to comply with deadlines set by ODOT.

Upcoming committee meetings:

Parks and Streets will meet Monday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

Utilities will meet Thursday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m.