LEDC commits funds for Ironton riverfront

Published 5:55 am Sunday, August 11, 2013

In April, the city of Ironton was awarded a more than $600,000 grant to fund a marina project on the riverfront. The only problem at the time was pulling together the $212,000 match to receive the funds.

Thursday, the Ironton City Council at its regular meeting received a letter of commitment from the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. stating its intent to fund the grant match.

“I was really concerned with this at first,” Mayor Blankenship said. “It’s one more thing off my back.”

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Only 16 communities in the entire country were awarded the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year, Ironton being one of them.

The $630,000 in grant money will go toward the more than four-year ongoing riverfront development project including adding 10 mooring tie-ups for transient boaters, a new, wider boat ramp, showers, restroom facilities, sidewalks and lighting.

The BIG grant is one of several the city had been awarded to continue work on the riverfront.

The riverfront project began a few years ago with soil remediation on two parcels of property, one owned by the city and one owned by the Ironton Port Authority. The city was awarded $1.5 million in Clean Ohio funds from the Ohio Department of Development for the remediation.

The city was also awarded Nature Works grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to place riprap on the shoreline to correct erosion problems on the riverfront, which has been completed, as well as to build walking and biking trails.

Dr. Bill Dingus gave council an update on the merger of the Ironton and Lawrence County port authorities, saying all assets and money have been transferred from the IPA.

Dingus also said the port authority and LEDC are moving ahead to assess the vacant properties in Ironton and the Ninth Street project.

“All in all I think the health of Ironton in comparison to other small cities across southeastern Ohio is quite good.” Dingus said. “… It’s your effort. It’s the city’s efforts. Everyone working together to make it happen.”

“I really appreciate you taking this opportunity to help us,” Councilman Mike Lutz said. “Welcome aboard.”

In other business:

• Council had first reading of an ordinance to allow the use of golf carts in the city. Previously, an ordinance for golf cart use was tabled to allow Ironton residents to come forward in support of golf carts.

Thursday, the new ordinance for golf cart use showed a change in the allowed speed limit if the measure is passed.

If passed golf carts would only be allowed on city streets where the speed limits are 35 MPH or less.

Ironton resident Brad McFann spoke to council in support of the ordinance and read a recent Tribune letter to the editor written by Rob Slagel.

Councilman Kevin Waldo expressed his concern for the safety of the people using golf carts if the ordinance were to pass.

“It’s been my experience in recent years in Ironton that people drive sometimes extremely erratically, great speeds,” Waldo said.

• Ted Riedel, American Legion Post 433 committee chairman for the Ohio Flags of Honor and The Moving Wall, told council that the flags and the wall will be escorted from Greenup, Ky., at 9 a.m. Aug. 15. The route in Ironton will come down Second Street and Park Avenue up to the Ironton Hills Shopping Center.

Riedel also invited council to the opening ceremonies that night at 7 p.m. Volunteers are also needed to help place the flags in the ground during the ceremony, he said.

Councilman Butch Huff expressed his thanks for the American Legion’s work bringing the wall to Ironton.

“As a Vietnam veteran I want to thank you for everything you’ve done to make this possible,” he said.

• Council had second reading of an ordinance to rezone a portion of Ninth Street from Residential-3 status to Business-3 status.

The ordinance was tabled after the reading until a public meeting could be held.

The meeting is set for Sept. 12 before the regular council meeting.

• Council entered into executive session to discuss litigation and real estate. No action was taken and council adjourned.