City talks possible boat dock upgrades

Amber Gillenwater

February 6, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis City Commission on Tuesday passed the first reading of an ordinance that will allow the city manager to apply for grant funding that, if awarded, will help improve the Gallipolis Public Use Area.

Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney reported on the ODNR Boating and Fishing Access Grant that will allow the city to add parking for vehicles and trailers, docks, a vessel mooring dock, sidewalks and lighting at the boating area next to the Gallipolis City Park.

Finney said he is in the early stages of planing his application for the grant, but once completed the cost could be between $1 million to $1.75 million, depending upon what the city asks for in its application.

The grant that will be awarded through the Cooperative Boating Facility Grant is for up to 100 percent funding and, according to Finney, is one the city has applied for before and never received.

“I’ve applied for it twice before and we haven’t got it yet, but we’ll see,” Finney said.

The grant will aid the city in the construction of a larger improved public use area that has been in the works for several years. If completed, the entire plan will include the construction of an amphitheatre, concrete stage and seating, among other features.

A second reading of the ordinance is expected to be conducted at the next city commission meeting.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners also moved to add a house located at 640 Fourth Ave. to the list of condemned and abandoned houses slated for demolition within the city limits.

During a voice vote, commissioners Steve Wallis, Matt Johnson and Tony Gallagher voted to add the structure to the list, while Commissioner Mike Brown voted “no” as he said he needed to look inside the structure before agreeing to completely tearing it down. Commission Vice President Jay Cremeens was absent from the meeting.

The property owner was present at Tuesday night’s meeting and said he requested the city add the structure to its list of houses to be torn down as the previous rental tenants left the interior in disrepair.

“They took everything and left it in a terrible state. I don’t even know if it is possible to restore it,” he said.

The program that allows the city to tear down abandoned and condemned homes within the city limits through the use of grant funds has been an ongoing topic of discussion for the city commissioners as they have selected which structures should be torn down through the use of the limited grant funding.

Commission President Steve Wallis said the biggest concern of the commission was that the funding was used to help not only improve the overall look of the city by tearing down unsightly houses, but to also help those who may not otherwise have the funds to tear down condemned structures on their property.

“We talked a lot about having a list of need — having priority over folks who can tear down places and trying to help folks who couldn’t tear them down because they didn’t have the finances to do so,” Wallis said. “[We wanted] to try to help those first and that’s the way we were kind of doing that list and adjusting them for the folks who can’t actually do it. It would be nice if we could take care of everyone, but we wanted to make sure we were trying to help those who couldn’t financially bear that burden first.”

Brown said his biggest concern is what happens with the properties once the homes are torn down.

“We’re not solving the problem, we’re creating another problem when we’ve got more weeds and stuff to clean. That’s one thing that really, really bothers me and I’m not the only one. Citizens have told me the same thing,” Brown said. “We’ve got to do something to turn this around — we’ve got to.”

Finney said that, through the program, the remaining properties in which houses have been torn down have been maintained. In some instances, he said nicer homes have been constructed where the previous homes once stood.

Finney also said the city has been pushing to have the Fourth Avenue residence demolished and that it may be the last one demolished with the current phase of grant funding. He added that the addition of approximately $8,000 through the “Moving Ohio Forward” program will allow the city to move forward with the overall project.

Also during the meeting, Finney reported on several water line breaks within the city’s system, including three that occurred along Ohio 588 last weekend — one on Neighborhood Road that was reportedly slated to be fixed Wednesday morning and another in the Spring Valley area on Magnolia Drive that occurred Tuesday morning.

Finney said city workers are working quickly to correct the problems.

“They’re getting them fixed pretty quickly and staying with them, but the weather got us again with the snow and everything,” he said. “They did a pretty decent job getting the roads cleaned off and straightened up. Everybody is working hard to get things done. Hopefully, it will thaw out before too long.”

The commission passed the second reading of a resolution authorizing the Finney to grant an easement to American Electric Power for electric service for the water pollution control facility on Chatham Avenue.

Wallis abstained from voting on the resolution.

An emergency resolution appointing Adam R. Salisbury as the city solicitor for a four-year term was tabled during Tuesday night’s meeting as Cremeens was absent. The resolution will be tabled until all five members of the commission can be present. According to the city charter, the resolution must be voted upon sometime during February.

In executive session, the commission discussed personnel issues relating to the Gallipolis Police Department, the leasing of property and an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim.