Council eyes grants, pair of water projects

BARNESVILLE-The Village of Barnesville is hoping to move forward with some community projects if all goes well with some new grant applications. At Monday night’s meeting council approved applications for two water projects and one feasibility study. All are due March 1.

Bob Jablonski of Poggemeyer Design Group informed members of the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA) program which offers communities a 0 to 1 percent loan for water projects. Technically not a grant, it is termed a “principal forgiveness” program.

Council voted to submit one application for Phase 2 of the industrial park water line project on Route 800. Phase 2 would extend the line to the Interstate 70 intersection. Since the project has been designed and cost estimated, Jablonski thought it would be a good candidate for the application.

Members also voted to submit a second DEFA application for a project known as “Slope Creek,” which is in speculative stages at this time.

Linda Amos, also of Poggemeyer Design Group, presented council with information on the Local Government Innovation Fund grant.

The Park and Recreation Committee and Barnesville Community Center Steering Committee think the LGIF could provide funding for a feasibility study for a community center.

Amos explained that this grant is especially concerned with regionalization of services among partners such as communities and school districts, the key being to increase efficiency.

The village will need to come up with a match of at least 10 percent, but the match can include in-kind services or the value of the property. The initial portion of the grant, for planning, can amount to as much as $100,000, and the total grant amount for implementation allows for $100,000 per partner, up to $500,000. Amos added that the grant application will not be difficult since several partners are already interested in the center.

Bobbi Jo Johnson, head coach for the Barnesville High School swim team and the Barnesville Summer Swim League, spoke in support of the new community center and brought a petition of 600 signatures also supporting the project.

According to Johnson, the summer league runs for 70 days during summer vacation and averages 200 swimmers between the ages of 3 and 18. The safety program has taught water safety to more than 500 children over the past eight years.

Barnesville High School swimmers currently take a bus 55 minutes each way to Wheeling Park to practice for 60 to 75 minutes. The team has had 30 practices since Nov. 1. Johnson noted their accomplishments: the first Belmont County school to send swimmers to state competition (girls,) and one boy has been to state meets twice; girls have entered district competitions in each of the 13 years of the program, and boys have entered for the past five years; they have earned an OVAC championship and swimmers consistently win top honors plus additional runner-up medals.

She added that a community center with an indoor pool would allow more practice time for the Barnesville students and give other area swim teams a practice and competition facility. In addition, the new pool could offer classes for seniors and the disabled as well as offering physical therapy sessions through Barnesville Hospital.

A group of community leaders representing local government, businesses, economic development, schools and the hospital have been exploring locations, designs and costs of a community center for nearly two years. The LGIF grant would continue that planning and include community input.

A representative from the WODA Group, which is renovating the Barnesville Commons property, attended Monday’s meeting to answer any questions and confirm what types of renovations will take place. WODA will be submitting an application for funding to the Ohio Housing Finance Association to assist with windows, doors, HVAC updates and accessibility issues to bring the property up to current standards. No residents will be permanently displaced by the renovations which, if the grant is awarded, could begin by the end of 2013.

After council approved two building permits, Councilman Brad Hudson asked members to reconsider changing the permit structure and eliminating the building permit fee. Council will discuss the idea.

A concert by Sixpence None the Richer (alternative and Christian rock/pop) will be held Tuesday, January 29 at the park youth center. Tickets are $15 per person. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 concert.

Barnesville Village Council meets every other Monday at 7 p.m.

Valenti can be reached at