December 29, 2018
6. First phase of downtown Conneaut Lake’s revitalization nearly complete
A few weeks ago, the Meadville Tribune provided readers with what we believe are the most important Crawford County-area stories of 2018. We then asked our readers to rank the stories from No. 1 (most important) to No. 15 (least important).
The revitalization of Conneaut Lake’s Water Street business district and public lakefront areas finally made significant progress this year after a group of residents met in 2005 to discuss ways to improve the borough.
The Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee (CLCDC), originally comprised of Dr. Bob Moyers and his wife, Bobbie, and Kathy and Bob Moss, initially worked on developing Ice House Park and adding improvements to Fireman’s Beach.
Bill Eldridge, chair of the CLCDC and also a Conneaut Lake Borough Council member, worked for hundreds of hours over years to secure necessary grant funding for the first phase, which is close to complete.
Of the $3.5 million budget secured for the project, 90 percent came from government grants. The rest came from community donations to the CLCDC as well as Conneaut Lake borough funds.
The utility lines on Water Street from First Street to Second Street are being moved, something initially thought too difficult and costly. Some of the lines will be placed underground while others will be relocated to the alleyways behind the businesses.
In August, Eldridge admitted some of the work on Water Street did not pass inspection and had to be redone, pushing back completion. According to Eldridge, the utility poles needed for this relocation are used by four different companies, which has slowed progress. He projected the wiring part of the project to be complete in January.
Fireman’s Beach includes new docks, parking, a boat launch ramp, entry signage and a new promenade connecting it with Ice House Park. Other improvements included more than 2,000 plantings to aid in stormwater management as well as beautification to the parking area.
In the spring of 2019, the CLCDC will also work to add a playground to Fireman’s Beach as well as a pavilion to replace the former picnic shelter and a lighted flagpole.
Eldridge said at a November borough council meeting that he will present a final audit to council when all the work contracts have been completed to detail the grants and sources of funding for the multimillion dollar first phase.
“We’re all very pleased and satisfied,” Eldridge said. “This has been the culmination of a five-year effort. I would say a lot of people in Conneaut Lake are ecstatic about the improvement; some people would say many years overdue.”
As for the second phase, the CLCDC has already secured a PennDOT grant of $475,000 and hopes to begin work in 2020. The bulk of the second phase extends the improvements made in the first block of Water Street to Second Street through Fourth Street.
Eldridge confirmed a need of $2 million to finish the second phase.