Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Memorial Day target for walkway completion

By William Kincaid
CELINA - The walkway project and the reconstruction of West Bank Road should both be completed by Memorial Day, city officials learned on Monday night.
"We're hoping to be completely done by Memorial Day ... but it's going to be weather dependent, but that's what we're shooting for is Memorial Day," city safety service director Tom Hitchcock said at the regular council meeting. "That and the county is hoping to get the roadway done by Memorial Day."
Mercer County Commissioners in July approved a $929,831 bid from VTF Excavation of Celina to repair the crumbling West Bank Road along Grand Lake's west shore.
The bids were reviewed by the county engineer's office, commissioners, Jefferson Township Trustees and Celina officials. Those entities, as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, have an interest in the project.
Commissioners spearheaded the bidding process on behalf of Jefferson Township officials, who in August were given jurisdiction over the road. No other entities claimed or were designated authority after the state abandoned the road 35 years ago.
A stretch of the road south of Monroe Road and a retaining wall along the lake are owned by ODNR. Celina crews have in previous years maintained part of the road even though the city claimed ownership of only a small section to the north.
Also, city administrators in August awarded a $644,000 contract to Shinn Brothers of Celina to complete the West Bank walkway by adding 2,200 feet of concrete. The first phase included the stretch from Monroe Road to Bella's Italian Grille. The second phase, including the construction of a seawall, will extend the walkway from the restaurant to U.S. 127.
City council members on Monday night passed final reading of legislation to refinance the project's $700,000 debt with First Financial Bank of Celina at an interest rate of 1.89 percent.
The ordinance authorizes the issuance and sale of notes for $700,000. The city will pay $100,000 toward its $800,000 debt and once again refinance the remainder through the local bank.
The note is similar to an annual loan because the city refinances it each year, according to mayor Jeff Hazel.
Each year the city renews the debt and pays down some of the principal. In 2014, the city reduced the walkway debt by $200,000 and sold one-year notes worth $800,000 to First Financial Bank of Celina with an interest rate of 2.07 percent.
The city began building the walkway in 2007 after borrowing $1.3 million and receiving a $250,000 state grant and a $150,000 pledge from the Celina Rotary Club for phase 1 of the multiphase project.
  The city in 2014 was awarded $1.285 million in the state capital budget bill for the development of three softball fields at Westview Park and the completion of the West Bank walkway.
The Grand Lake Tax Increment Financing District is the city's only other revenue source for the walkway debt.
TIF revenue comes from taxes on any increase in land or building values in each district. TIF districts allow for real estate taxes on new development to be diverted into separate accounts to be used for public infrastructure projects within the district. TIFs can remain for 25 years.
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