St. Clairsville looks at road plans

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – City council asked several questions concerning plans to apply for an ARC grant of about $335,000 toward the planned road connector project at the mall during Tuesday’s meeting.

Before passing an ordinance authorizing the application, several council members asked to discuss the road project and its implications. The grant would be for approximately $335,000. The ordinance was tabled until the next meeting until more information can be gathered.

Service Director Dennis Bigler noted the ordinance should be passed as an emergency, since they lacked time for the full three-reading process. The city would also be asked to accept a plat for a portion of it to be a public road.

Council member Frank Sabatino noted that the project had seen some recent acceleration, but had been originated in the late 1990s and early years of 2000, and some members of council were not in office at the time. He suggested a work session to fully inform council of all aspects of the project.

He said he had originally thought the city’s only involvement in the commons would be the infrastructure. He motioned to table the matter until the council can meet with ODOT representatives.

Bigler said the pre-application with Ohio Mid Eastern Governments Association specified that the city would provide utilities and attempt to obtain every possible grant for the project, due to its size and expense.

He added that OMEGA invited the city to make full application for $334,000.

“That’s a good thing,” he said, adding that the required three readings would take up too much time. “We’re dealing with a long, complicated project out there that has a lot of moving parts.

He pointed out that the matching money is not being provided by the city, but is being provided through grants the city already has, along with funds provided by the county, provided the county releases the funds to the Transportation Improvement District.

“If the county doesn’t give itthen we simply don’t accept the grant,” he said.

“The city has no risk at all in the entire process of that road,” said Mayor Robert Vincenzo, adding that ODOT has spent about $1 million of earmarked money for engineering, environmental and other studies. The TID has applied for more than $840,000 and the commissioners have pledged $1.9 million.

“It depends on the county moving the money,” he said.

Vincenzo added that his office and Bigler’s were open and they would be available to answer questions. A council committee could meet with ODOT, or individual council members could contact ODOT.

Council members also asked several questions about the impact on the planned St. Clair Commons.

Bigler said that once the funds are released by the commissioners, the TID will meet and begin the acquisition process, which will be five to six months.

“There’s no great rush on our side,” Bigler said.

He added that the TID could apply for the ARC grant, but said the city would be afforded an advantage in doing so by having more control in how the project is carried out.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline. com