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Engineering department staying busy

Ironton City Engineer Philip Biggs and the rest of the engineering department are defining the concept of multi-tasking with at least 18 projects in the works.

Biggs updated the Ironton City Council Thursday on everything the department is working on including plans for a 50,000 square foot metal building in the South Ironton Industrial Park, the Nixon Hill water tank replacement, the floodwall improvements at Center Street Landing and other paving, transportation and development projects.

City officials will meet with a prospective tenant for the industrial park and a spec building contractor later today.

Although it is too early to make an announcement, the tenant would initially bring 10 jobs to the city and add 90 more within a few years, he said.

Even if the tenant is not interested, the city may still consider constructing a spec building to make the park more marketable, he said.

Depending on how the meeting goes, the city may look at constructing the office part of a building and then add the remaining square footage after meeting the specific needs of a tenant, Biggs said.

Each phase of the project could take 30 to 45 days including preparing specific plans, constructing the first part of a spec building and completing it to meet an individuals needs, he said.

Economic Development Director Matt Ward said many of the potential clients he talks with need a 50,000 square foot building. Currently, the city only has one building that large available.

Funding will depend upon getting a tenant to agree and making a proposal but it is a viable project, Ward said.

Major projects outlined in the engineering department's report include:

4Downtown street enhancement - A combination of funding though the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone will be used to repair sidewalks, curbs and add ornamental lighting on Second, Third, Adams, Vernon and Washington Streets. The ODOT funding has been approved, but the EZ funds still need final approval before the project can be bid.

4Center Street floodwall improvements - The Army Corp of Engineers and Norfolk & Southern Railroad have approved all plans for the widening of the boat ramp entrance and other improvements. The retaining wall plans will be added to the bid package and put to bid. An environmental clearance is needed before the contract can be awarded and begin later this summer.

4Nixon Hill water tank replacement - The construction of two 1-million gallon water tanks on Nixon Hill is still awaiting all the funding to be finalized. The demolition contract for the old treatment plant will move forward and should be awarded to a company to dispose of the asbestos within a few weeks. Other utility work is also in the works.

4Creation of riverfront jetty - In the extremely early stages of discussion, this project will examine creating a docking facility that could harbor large riverboats such as the Mississippi Queen and create a protected marina. The Army Corp and the Department of Natural Resources have been receptive to the idea, the report said.

Other ongoing projects in various stages include:

4Constructing roads and water lines in the South Ironton Industrial Park.

4Making improvements to the pump station and flood gate controls. The motor on one of the floodgates will be replaced.

4Developing the top floor of the Ironton City Center so Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital can move 50 administrative jobs from Russell, Ky.

4Paving Rock Avenue from U.S. 52 to the city limits and other projects within the city through ODOT.

4Working with ODOT to improve access to Lawrence Street during flooded conditions by creating an access road off of State Route 93.

4Working with the CAO to fulfill pay requests and change orders for construction of the new Ironton Fire Station.

4Addressing drainage problems in the north end of Ironton.

4Developing estimates for building renovations and site development at the Intermet property.

4Applying for Issue 2 funds for street paving.

4Working with the county to develop a disaster mitigation plan and working with ODOT to map property that will be affected by the new Ironton-Russell Bridge.

Councilman Richard Price said it was nice to receive a detailed update on all the projects.

"It is wonderful to be getting all this information like this," he said. "I know everyone from the mayor on down has contributed to this."

Biggs said everyone in the city has really pulled together to assist the department in any way it needed.

"This has been a really good experience," he said. "The city has some great people across the board."