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Port authority has helped city

The Ironton Port Authority started work in 2005. During the eight years of operation, the IPA has been directly responsible for more than $4 million in investments of outside money in the city, including a hard won $300,000 to fix the Ora Richey Road slip. That equates to a bit more than $500,000 per year in money.

Additionally, the IPA has supported other civic organizations, such as the Friends of Ironton, Ironton in Bloom, Ironton aLive and the LAWCO Horsemen’s Association, both financially and as active partners in planning and fundraising.

Along with the ILCAO, Lawrence County Port Authority and Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, the IPA has partnered in acquisition and development of a potential hotel/restaurant/entertainment district near South Ninth and Vernon streets.

IPA development of the upscale Bellemont Subdivision at the former hospital site is the first major market rate housing development in the town in nearly 50 years. It is intended to attract young professionals to reside and stay in the community and is succeeding.

Five businesses have been established in the south end of town and more will be coming.

As several current members of the IPA Board of Directors plan to sit on the expanded LAWCO Port Authority Board and continue to strive for the long term betterment of our town, I would certainly appreciate hearing, from anyone, specifics about the “missed opportunities and underutilized assets” mentioned in The Tribune March 29, so we can act to rectify our shortcomings in the future.

The industrial park property is home to Mi-De-Con, Cooke’s Farm Center, Guy’s Floor Covering, Aluminastics and Swift Industries. It also provides a free temporary home to the Lawrence County Horsemen’s Association show lot, which is expected to draw many visitors to the city.

The property is listed on the state’s website and has been advertised and promoted to various candidate companies. It does suffer somewhat from the slum-like area on the way from Coal Grove.

We expect a sign soon, but our budget in the past couldn’t afford the $20,000 to $25,000 it would have cost.

As to a spec building, we were unable to identify any organization willing and able to guarantee a loan for the $300,000 to 500,000 it would have cost with no user or potential user identified.

The Point leaders expressed interest if we would give them 10 acres of land in return for no interest in the eventual proceeds. We felt it wiser to wait for the economy to improve and give time for the Haverhill steel mill project to possibly develop.

The long-term betterment of Ironton seemed better served by husbanding our scarce resources.

The armory has been bought, and largely paid for, from rent and forms an important part of the parcel identified for a hotel, restaurant and retail complex we hope will develop there.

Not having a hotel prejudices all efforts to develop tourism and is sorely missed by those returning home for funerals, reunions, weddings, etc.

Anyone who disparages the progress of the riverfront property is just woefully ignorant of the progress there and the difficulty making that progress over the past several years.

Development of heavily contaminated land in the flood plain requires many layers of permits, approvals and large funding grants. Private investment in our weak economy has been non-existent as the risk and time horizons have been too great.

By dint of IPA efforts, we now have a beautiful site just waiting for an enterprising developer to move. Several candidates have been identified and others are being informed of the opportunities. The riverfront has been an unmitigated success and more success is on the horizon.

I’m sure more could be done to promote the city — beautiful churches but dirty, potholed and nearly broke — and its assets (off the interstate and without a hotel or even a bed-and-breakfast), but it requires effort, and worse: work.

Perhaps a decent website would be a start. How hard would that be?

The Ironton In Bloom people do a great job; raising money each year is a very trying task. Hats off to them.

The Ironton aLive people are trying. They are welcomed by the merchants — as long as they don’t ask for any money.

The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization has provided low income housing that replaced some blighted areas, and has provided jobs in their organization and badly needed medical and employment services. ILCAO strives tirelessly to provide leadership and fundraising expertise to all comers.

Yet most of the great unwashed, poor or not, continue to wail and moan about any increase in fees or taxes to pay for the increased costs of city and county administration.

Political leaders, apparently fearful of voter backlash with the attendant potentially adverse effects on their individual PERS retirement accounts, continue to kick the can down the road rather than suggesting and pushing for fiscally sound solutions for the long term.

Federal, state, county and city officials stand behind the “free lunch” philosophy and wring their hands over the plight of those on a fixed income, as if annual COLA raises don’t exist.

I respectfully suggest the newspaper adopt an even more positive attitude toward the efforts of the able “strivers” in the city and beat up on those who kick the can — and artfully dodge valid questions posed to them in council meetings!


Paul Woods is chairman of the Ironton Port Authority. He can be reached at woodspf@yahoo.com or by mail to 301 S. Third St. Ironton.