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Council will apply for grant for riverfront

A riverfront enhancement and safety project is getting a second chance after an Ironton City Council special meeting Wednesday.

Thursday, April 01 1999

A riverfront enhancement and safety project is getting a second chance after an Ironton City Council special meeting Wednesday.

Part of the worker’s compensation rebate committee’s recommendations, the project would hinge on an application for $50,000 in matching funds from the city to secure a $50,000 Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant.

The resolution, necessary to apply for the grant, does not obligate the money to the project –  it merely expresses council’s intent at this time to spend the money later, councilman Hugh Scott said.

"This is just a proposal so the city can apply for the grant, but if we have an emergency at some other time, the money is still there for us to use for another purpose," Scott said. "If we need the $50,000 between now and the time the grant is approved, we can reach over and get that money."

The same resolution failed at council’s regular meeting Thursday, but after the possibility of raising the matching dollars through donations came into play after a Monday finance committee meeting, councilman Jim Tordiff said he would reconsider his vote.

"I will support this measure if the minutes clearly reflect that the support is given based on the fact the city will work to raise this money through donations," Tordiff said. "If the $50,000 in matching dollars is going to be gained through donations, I’ll not only support this resolution, but I will help in any way I can to raise that money."

The resolution, as well as the accompanying resolutions to enable the city’s application process to move forward and meet today’s deadline, passed at the special meeting, with councilmen Bob Vaughn and Leo Ulery still voting against the measures.

"I’d like to see the $50,000 in donations up front," Ulery said. "I don’t have any problem with development of any kind, but I’m not willing to support this at this time with the way things are going with the budget."

Before recent announcements that will affect the city’s income tax revenue, Vaughn said he would have supported the measure.

Even with the possibility of donations and the safeguard of a mandatory second vote before spending the money on the project, Vaughn said he had no choice but to withhold an affirmative vote.

"Eight months ago, I would have supported this project, but we have lost 300 jobs at Cabletron, jobs at AlliedSignal and that we have lost Ashland Inc., I just cannot support this at this time," he said. "I’d rather see the money used to get an industrial headhunter in here and find some new industries to bring into the city to help us get our revenue built back up instead of spending it on a project to enhance the riverfront."

The issue at hand goes beyond mere beautification and recreation, councilman and finance committee chairman Joe Black said.

"I’m in favor of this for several reasons, not the least of which is the safety issue," Black said. "There has been loss of life there in the past, and as a city, we need to work to ensure that there will be no more loss of life there in the future. This will actually widen the entrance and make it safer for the residents, and that is a necessary project."

Assenting members agreed to seek alternate means of funding between now and January at which time they expect to hear final word on the grant.

If the city has not received $50,000 in donations, the money mentioned in the resolution can not be expended on the project without a second council majority vote.