Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
Council talks mill work
Facility could host wedding receptions, house microbrewery
By Jared Mauch
ST. MARYS - The old Reservoir Mill on High Street could get a facelift as officials proceed with plans to renovate the historic landmark.
City council members on Monday gave first reading to a resolution authorizing the renovation and restoration of the mill, using $650,000 in state revolving loan funds.
The money can be used or given back to the state for other communities to use, but that would be a "hard pill to swallow," safety service director Greg Foxhoven said.
"It can be used and has been used in many occasions to fund community development projects primarily associated with removal or improvement of slum and blight conditions," law director Kraig Noble said.
The resolution authorizes city officials to advertise for bids and to hire an architect to make plans, he said. The project is contingent upon the city's receiving a waiver from the state for permission to work on the structure.
The 169-year-old mill in 2010 was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. As a historic landmark, no work that could adversely affect the structure is allowed. By law, the building could only be removed if no other option were available to save it. Wanting to preserve the history, local officials began looking at ways to restore the building.
City officials said they would use the funds to strip down the mill to its original 1847 framework and foundation and build a new exterior. It would include removing the grain elevator that rises above the rest of the roof, Noble said.
No city tax dollars would be used on the project, and the city does not have to repay the money, Foxhoven said.
The mill is owned by James Heinrich, who has said he may be willing to sell it to the city. If the city purchases the mill, the interior may be rebuilt and used for wedding receptions and other events and a microbrewery.
"It's a very attractive area of town now with the shelter house, the bridge. … That area has just tons of potential," Foxhoven said. "The shelter house is rented out very frequently. Anytime you drive by, you see people walking on the canal path, so we feel very good about the project. We feel it has a tremendous amount of potential," he said.
City officials hope for future community involvement with funding and restoring the interior when residents see the exterior restoration, he said after the meeting.
Funding for the interior of the structure could come again from the state, donations or from local businesses, he said.
"It is the oldest existing mill on the entire length of the Miami-Erie Canal," Noble said, adding mills were a leading factor in the city's growth during the 1800s. St. Marys once had three mills helping to drive the economy.
The resolution is to receive a second reading during the July 25 council meeting.
Council member Todd Fleagle encouraged residents to attend the coming meetings to hear the next two readings of the resolution and share their opinions.
In other action, council members approved under suspension of rules an emergency ordinance to accept a $903,000 loan from the Ohio Water Development Authority to create design plans for the proposed water treatment plant.
Engineering firm Jones & Henry Engineers, Toledo, will create the plans, Foxhoven said. The firm will be paid $900,000 to create the plans, which include a new well and transmission lines. The remaining $3,000 is for the application fee, he said.
The cost estimate for a plant is set at about $22 million. City officials plan to put the construction portion of the project out for bid in March with construction beginning later next summer and completed by the end of 2019.
Land at the intersection of county Road 66A and Koop Road, south of the current one, has been eyed by officials as the site of the new plant.
City officials said they were surprised by the plan's expense, but council president Jim Harris noted it was less than 5 percent of the projected construction costs.
Jones & Henry will begin working on the plans this week, Foxhoven said after the meeting.