Progress made on riverfront property

Published 11:01 am Friday, August 15, 2014

To lease or to bid, that is the question.

While some loose ends remain with regard to the former Fuzzy Duck property on the riverfront, Ironton City Council has determined,whether leased or put out for bid, there will be stipulations.

“I anticipated there being some type of resolution (on the agenda) today to see which way to go toward, whether it be a lease (or bid),” Aaron Bollinger, council member, said. “Talking to some of the council members I think that we kind of split on the direction.”

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Bollinger said it seems the process to make a decision has been rushed.

“It such an important decision I don’t want to be rushed into it,” he said. “Maybe having a committee meeting to determine what route we’re going to go I think is the best.”

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship told council something should be done with the property sooner than later.

“It’s already been broken into a couple times,” he said. “It’s a headache for me and it’s going to sit there and deteriorate more and we’ll have another Memorial Hall on our hands.”

Vice Mayor Kevin Waldo said a decision on what to do with the property is multifaceted.

“We need to decide whether we are going to put it out to bid and whether that will be done through us or whether we’re going to deed it to the (Lawrence County) Port Authority,” he said. “I don’t know whether that should be done through a resolution to council.”

Council member Bob Cleary said it is a “pretty cut and dry” decision.

“Do we authorize the mayor to bid or do we not deed the property to the port authority but lease it to them,” he said. “The lease is going to be worded however we want. They are going to work with us. (Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director) Bill Dingus said he’d put the language in we want and it would be appropriate to what council would like to see.”

Waldo expressed concern about who will reap the benefits.

“I think if we lease it to the port authority our opportunity to make income for the city is going to be limited,” he said. “If there’s any money to be made the Port Authority will make it.”

Council member Craig Harvey informed council he has been told public perception is the City of Ironton gives away too much property.

“I assure people that in some cases property sits and sits and sits and to take it off our hands is a help to us,” he said. “I don’t think we are in that situation in this particular instance when we have people showing up at every meeting wanting to do something with the property. It’s incumbent on us to keep the reins on this property and it’s been such a headache because we haven’t kept the reins on it.”

Council asked Blankenship to work with the city solicitor to create a lease agreement with any and all stipulation from individual members of council included. At that point council will decide to either bid out the property or lease it with council’s requested stipulations included.

Ordinance 14-30 setting the salary of the vice mayor and members of city council had its second reading, which calls for an increase in the vice mayor’s monthly pay from $150 to $600 and council members’ pay from $120 to $500.

Ordinance 14-27 authorizing and directing the mayor to execute an agreement with E.L. Robinson Engineering Company Inc. regarding the construction, administration and inspection of Ironton North Fifth and Elm streets sewer separation phase II project had its third reading and was adopted.