Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
St. Marys Council OKs land purchase
By Ed Gebert
ST. MARYS - City council members on Monday authorized the purchase of two parcels of land for future development.
One parcel is about 1 acre at 504 Beech St., which abuts another city-owned property. The purchase would allow the city to use a portion as a utility easement and to build a roadway, allowing access to another property, where officials hope to construct athletic fields, concessions and parking in the future.
Kraig Noble said once the easement is established and the road is built, the remaining land on Beech Street likely will be split into two lots and sold with the proceeds going back to the capital improvement fund.
"I think the bottom line is, we intend to recover a significant portion in the eventual sale," Noble said.
The price of the property is to be no more than $105,000, plus closing costs.
The other parcel is a strip of land 50 feet wide along the south side of the proposed Freewalt Way Subdivision on Crawford Street. The cost is not to exceed $30,000, plus closing costs. This land is located behind the former Kmart building on Celina Road, which is being converted into a warehouse. The land will be used as additional maneuvering space for tractor-trailers pulling into the warehouse.
Funds for the purchases have been appropriated from the capital improvement fund. Council members passed emergency ordinances for the land purchases under suspension of rules, allowing the purchases to take place immediately.
Members also passed under suspension of rules an ordinance extending an agreement with Nelson Tree Service for an additional five weeks to complete a tree-trimming project. The project is part of a continuing effort to protect electrical lines and equipment.
Safety service director Greg Foxhoven said the firm has been working on the project and is ahead of schedule, but more work is required than had been believed. Crews need an additional five weeks to complete it. This would raise the cost of the project higher than the amount officials are permitted to spend without using the bidding process. The legislation passed by council waives the bidding requirement and allows Nelson to continue the work.
Councilors also received an update on the city's grist mill renovation project. Work has stalled on the refurbishment of the empty building on East High Street, Noble said. Plans have been delayed as the project engineer tries to negotiate with the Ohio History Connection about the proposed size of the refurbished building.
"We've hired an engineer who has drawn very detailed plans for the renovation, using a lot of the original material. The issue is the historic society wants us to use the west shed, or the west end of the building," Noble said.
The initial plans with the society said the building, which was built in 1847 and named a historic landmark in 2010, was permitted to be reduced to its initial footprint in the renovation and allowed any later additions to be removed.
The west shed was a later addition, but the society wants the city to keep it, Noble said. Using the original building footprint made for a good project, but the addition of the west addition to the restoration makes the cost soar beyond what the city had planned to spend, he added.
The city has budgeted $600,000 in state revolving loan funds for the project, but work is on hold until the engineer, city officials and the Ohio History Connection agree on the size of the project.
City officials believe including the west shed likely would be a fatal blow for the project, Noble said, noting he has not heard any recent updates from the engineer but has no reason to believe that the impasse has been solved.
In other action, councilors scheduled a streets and sidewalk committee meeting to continue discussing how best to convince some homeowners to improve their properties. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. July 16 in council chambers.