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City closer to buy of Honeywell

Guarded optimism described the mood Thursday as the Ironton City Council's Finance Committee moved a step closer to purchasing the Honeywell property.

The hopes are developing an industrial park on the land.

The committee made a

recommendation to council that authorizes Mayor Bob Cleary to sign a purchase agreement for the 40-acre property, formerly Allied- Signal, located on the corner of Third and Lorain streets.

After three years in the works, the deal is close to being done. However, Council President Jesse Roberts stressed that it is still too early to celebrate.

"We are excited, but very reserved," he said.

Everyone has worked hard as a group and has been patient through the process, Cleary said.

The city has $225,000 in state grants to purchase the $376,000 property. Roberts was confident the city could pay the other $151,000, partly due to the interest shown in developing it.

Mayor Cleary said they have "had numerous calls" and that the property itself is "ready to build on today." The Ohio Department of Transportation has already agreed to purchase eight acres and move their offices, he said.

The city would then own the current ODOT location at 3001 S. Sixth Street, Cleary said.

Ideally, the site could accommodate more than 1,000 jobs if developed properly, Cleary said. Commercial businesses, such as restaurants and gas stations, could also be attracted, he added.

The deal had been delayed because the attempted merger between Honeywell and General Electric in 2001. The city also had the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency survey the property.

The committee also recommended that Cleary be authorized to submit the fire station plans to the state for renewal of the building permits. The cost of between $2,500 and $3,000 will be temporarily taken from either the contingency fund in the budget or the fire fee. The permits are good for one year and an extension can be obtained after work has begun.

Plans must be submitted before July 1 or the International Building Codes go into effect. These contain codes involving earthquakes and seismic requirements that could needlessly cost the city additional money, City Engineer Joe McCallister said.

In other business, a salary resolution was proposed to hire a summer intern to prepare a traffic map in cooperation with the city and KYOVA. Pay rate is $7 per hour with no benefits. Work will begin on June 3 (retroactive) and end August 16, with a maximum of 480 hours. The Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone will provide $10,000 to fund the project.

A recommendation was also made to keep rent in the City Center at half price for at least one more six-month term. They hope to encourage businesses to locate there. The center is still only half full and is a "bargain, even at full price," Roberts said. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune