Bids for Conneaut Lake revitalization project could go out this fall

By Jean Shanley

Meadville Tribune
August 12, 2017

CONNEAUT LAKE — Bids may go out this fall and prep work could begin this winter for the multimillion dollar renovation work at Fireman’s Beach and on Water Street.

That’s because of the good news Bill Eldridge reported to Conneaut Lake Borough Council at this week’s meeting.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) has approved a request from the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee (CLCDC) to use some of the $1 million grant from the EDA for work on Fireman’s Beach, Eldridge reported. Although he does not have the final approval, Eldridge said he has been told the EDA has OKd the CLCDC’s request with final approval expected in the next couple of weeks.

That means the work can begin on the project, which includes upgrades to Fireman’s Beach as well as Water Street from First to Second Street.

Eldridge had been working with the EDA on the approval for 14 months.

While the EDA had already awarded a $1 million grant for work on Water Street in the borough, the CLCDC has decided to have the Water Street work and Fireman’s Beach project done as one project. Therefore the CLCDC had to seek approval to use some of the $1 million for work on the beach to save money on the revitalization project being spearheaded by CLCDC.

Eldridge also updated council on the status of matching grant revenue for a $775,000 grant the CLCDC had received from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). He said the funds from the federal EDA grant could be used for the funds needed for matching the grant awarded from the DCNR.

In conjunction with the approval, council had to approve several legal documents regarding ownership of the beach and of property, which had been donated by Bob and Kathy Moss. Also needed was approval for council President Dick Holabaugh to endorse the anticipated EDA grant amendment when it is received and to update an original commitment letter from borough council to the DNCR.

Council also approved pre-authorization construction temporary easement language to allow temporary easements over private property so work could be done.

Eldridge was excited about the approval, noting he expected the final approval within the next couple of weeks and then the project could go out to bid. He hopes some preliminary work could be done this fall with the final construction to begin in the spring.

Work at the beach and on Water Street will be done simultaneously, Eldridge said, and he expects the work on those two projects to be completed by the end of 2018.

“I’d like to work myself out of a job,” he joked, then quickly added the CLCDC already has a grant for work to continue on Water Street to Second Street once the first block is finished. He did not say it, but his “job” is all volunteer work as chairman of the CLCDC and a member of council.

The work on the beach will include connecting Ice House Park to Fireman’s Beach with a promenade walkway, renovations to the parking area, relocation of the picnic shelter, the addition of new docks and replacement of some docks. That will bring the total number of docks up to 96. The work also will include a new boat launch and other beach improvements.

Work on Water Street will include new curbing, sidewalks, light poles, the placement of utility lines underground and other upgrades.

Over the past six years, the CLCDC has raised nearly $3.15 million in state and federal grants and private donations for the project.

Project estimates previously announced are for $1,806.961 for the Water Street portion and $1,279,550 for improvements to Fireman’s Beach.

The CLCDC has been working on this project since 2011 when the group got council to approve a request for a grant to develop a plan for the revitalization. From there, the CLCDC held public meetings in 2011 to ask the public what was needed. From there, the plan was developed.

The preliminary plan concept drawings for the proposed town improvements were unveiled at a public meeting in March 2012.

You can help

Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee holds a fundraising session for invited guests at the town hall on Sept. 9 to raise additional funds for Conneaut Lake’s the downtown revitalization project.

Those wishing to contribute to the fund may send donations to the CLCDC at P.O. Box 195, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316.

Fundraising Efforts

Grant Source                                                      Amount

Appalachian Regional Commission                            $150,000

State Department of Community                                $375,000
and Economic Development

Community Development Block Grant                        $167,204

Act 13: Impact fees from oil/gas law                              $50,713

U.S. Economic Development Administration             $1,000,000

Transportation Alternatives Program                           $400,000

National Endowment of the Arts                                     $75,000

State Department of Conservation                               $775,000
and Natural Resources

Private Donors                                                             $155,000

TOTAL                                                                      $3,147,917