Fund marina project

Making improvements to the Steubenville Marina is an excellent idea, but also a costly proposition. Especially given the city’s current stressed finances, with millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure repairs and improvements needed, even making a good start is beyond what local taxpayers can afford.

City officials, who debated the marina for several weeks, seem to have come to the conclusion that development is a good idea. A $100,000 state grant to extend a waterline to the marina will be used for that project — or at least as much of it as can be completed — rather than “repurposed.”

That was a wise decision, in that it may lay the foundation for additional state, and perhaps federal, assistance.

Advocates for improving the marina realize it will be a lengthy task. Councilwoman Kimberly Hahn, who deserves much of the credit for pursuing the project, sees it as a situation of having to “think big, start small.”

Getting a step-by-step plan for development in place is vital. “You have to map out a strategy for what you want,” explained former mayor Domenick Mucci, who now serves as president of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association.

Even accomplishing that will require some funding. State, federal and perhaps private foundation grants may be available for the purpose. One potential source may be the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has assisted dozens of public recreation projects in our area.

Steubenville merits the assistance. Just a few weeks ago, the Appalachian Regional Commission updated its assessment of economic conditions and outlook in its 13-state area. Jefferson County is listed as “at risk,” which is the fourth-worst of five ARC categories.

In many ways, things are improving, as has been pointed out. The county’s unemployment rate has improved to 4.5%. But much more needs to be done, and help is needed.

An improved marina would be an economic development tool as well as a recreational mecca for Steubenville. Grant providers should recognize that and approve funding to assist the project.

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