Conneaut Lake moves forward on Water Street project

By Jean Shanley
June 17, 2022

CONNEAUT LAKE — The borough is saying “go” to the Green Light Go construction project for Water Street.

At last week’s meeting, Conneaut Lake Borough Council members voted 5-1 to authorize council President Dick Holabaugh to sign work authorization on the project. Councilman Mario De-Blasio was the lone “no” vote. Councilman Ryan Lang was absent.

The vote came after councilman Bill Eldridge gave an update on the project on behalf of the revitalization committee of council. He said the committee has asked CT Consultants for a separate work order that it can use to track their charges for work under this project only. He said, “This will allow us to identify their work that may be eligible for reimbursement under the terms of the grant. This grant allows up to 10 percent of the funds (i.e. $27,500) to be used for approved engineering support work. This will also facilitate segregation of funds spent for the post construction audit. An inflated upper limit of $50,000 is included for accounting purposes. In our last construction project, the CT Consultants work order was limited to $45,000 in services, of which we ordered only $12,500 as actually needed.”

Eldridge said the committee continues to work with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on the 2024 Betterment Project, on the ARC Grant for $500,000 and the $22,000 LSA Grant application continues. “We have been asked to provide additional details on portions of these applications. This means that we are still under consideration for grant work.”

Council discusses repairs to the floating metal dock system at Fireman’s Beach

March 14, 2022

CONNEAUT LAKE — The subject of repairs to the floating metal dock system at Fireman’s Beach was brought up by Councilman Bill Eldridge at Wednesday’s meeting.

The subject had been discussed at several meetings since council member Mario DeBlasio presented information last fall that he believed indicated imminent failure of the system.

Eldridge said, “After review by the CLCDC (Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee), a detailed report was prepared and presented to council by Bob Moss. This report made comparisons to similar dock maintenance issues experienced at Ice House Park. This report recommended a series of preventive maintenance actions that should be pursued to avoid serious damage and dock system failure. The CLCDC offered up to $15,000 to fund this preventive maintenance program. “Six months later, we have done nothing to make repairs on various connecting hinges or implement any of the recommendations made in the CLCDC report. We have already sent out dock rental renewal contracts and accepted payments to rent those docks. To date, the borough has generated well over $100,000 in dock rental revenues from these docks. Sensible management practices dictate that we must preserve this popular community resource so that it can always be financially self-sustaining.”

He concluded by asking when the beach committee is going to do something about it.

John Chuey, chairman of the beach committee, who was attending the meeting via phone, said the committee is working on the project.

Dick Holabaugh, council president, asked the committee to provide the CLCDC with information about the repairs.

Lake leaders look at trail plans, downtown renovation project

Community News

March 14, 2022

From the Conneaut Lake Borough Council February public meeting:

Sandy Eldridge stood to speak about the CLCDC’s recent purchase of Holiday Outdoor Décor. There are 25 lighted snowflake lights that will be set in downtown Conneaut Lake for the Christmas season, in 2022. The CLCDC did research by shopping around for holiday lighting and prices, and telephoned two other municipalities who have purchased holiday light decorations, these being Saegertown and Union City. Each snowflake light measures 4 feet wide and each one has 96 cool white LED lights. The Borough will be responsible to install, remove, and store the holiday lights. A discussion ensued with Council and Streets Manager Jim Donnachie regarding the installation of the lights with brackets, and the storage of the lights during the off-season.

From the CLCDC, Councilman Bill Eldridge spoke about the downtown renovation project at Water Street. The CLCDC has applied for grant money with the DCED. CLCDC has received an application package, and the organization will be working with PennDOT on this forthcoming project.

Eldridge further stated that the Ernst Trail proposals are moving forward for Conneaut Lake. There is a small trail at the Conneaut Lake Winery. A bridge is required to go over a beaver dam. Crawford County is working with engineers, and Eldridge has looked at rails to trails information. Council took up the dialogue, which turned to sidewalks and controlled cross walks for the Ernst Trail. Snow removal was also discussed, relevant to walk ways and bike trails near streets. Donnachie reminded those present that there are active public hunting lands behind the local winery, and he asked if a hike and bike trail could be a safety risk for patrons, due to active hunting area and gamelands there.

Report: Development Committee has spent more than $50K in Conneaut Lake improvement projects

Meadville Tribune
December 15, 2021

By Jean Shanley

CONNEAUT LAKE — Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee (CLCDC) has spent more than $50,000 in the past two years in projects to improve Conneaut Lake.

Member Sandy Eldridge gave a detailed report at last Wednesday’s Conneaut Lake Borough Council meeting, outlining the contributions made by the committee.

In 2020, the CLCDC paid $30,031.81 for things including engineering consultants, the revitalization project, overhead wire removal, town hall decorations and Memorial Park light poles.

This year, the committee paid $21,905.34 for items such as engineering consultants, landscaping and a flag at Fireman’s Beach, Memorial Park improvements, a Pedal the Lake rally and town hall decorations.

Volunteers from the CLCDC also spent many hours on projects, including work at Fireman’s Beach, Memorial Park and the recent Ice House Festival.

Eldridge said the Ice House Festival was very successful. Donations to a piggy bank sculpture raised $250 for the Samaritans and First National Bank matched the amount donated.

Eldridge said the CLCDC is looking forward to expending the festival next year.

Council President Dick Holabaugh responded, saying it was a wonderful day and added he had never seen so many kids lined up to see Santa as there were last Friday night.

Later in the meeting, Bill Eldridge, chairman of the CLCDC, said he wanted to clear up any misunderstandings about the committee. Previously the CLCDC had spearheaded the work which raised more than $4 million in grants and other donations for revitalization projects at Fireman’s Beach and on Water Street from First to Third Street.

Earlier this year, the committee decided to let council handle the revitalization work, including the remainder of Water Street.

Eldridge emphasized that the CLCDC will continue to volunteer work at the Fireman’s Beach, rain gardens and other projects and continue to make donations — but will not be working on infrastructure as it had before.

He said he wanted no misunderstanding with people believe the committee is no longer going to be involved in Conneaut Lake.

Development committee no longer involved with revitalization effort

Meadville Tribune
Jean Shanley

July 21, 2021

CONNEAUT LAKE — Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee, which has spearheaded a $4 million revitalization project in downtown Conneaut Lake, no longer will be working on such efforts in the borough.

Bill Eldridge, president of the committee and a member of Conneaut Lake Borough Council, read a release at Wednesday’s council meeting regarding the group’s decision to focus on other projects.

According to the release, the committee has completed its currently planned borough municipal infrastructure upgrades including Fireman’s Beach, Memorial Park and Water Street. “Performance of administration for the final Water Street upgrades is being relinquished to exclusive municipal management,” it read, “fulfilling the purpose of the CLCDC to improve the appearance of the town.”

The move provides the committee with resources and time to better serve its mission to “revitalize the appearance, economic activity and businesses, and to develop the community’s unique identity consistent with its history and the location on the lake,” Eldridge read.

Asked by council member Mike Krepps if the committee felt it had been forced out of the revitalization efforts, Eldridge responded that it did.

He referred to action taken at the October 2020 meeting during which council gave the committee a vote of confidence after members were asked directly if they wanted the committee to continue working on council’s behalf on the revitalization.

However, in February 2021, council rescinded the motion to give the committee full authority to manage the revitalization efforts. The change was made without discussion at the meeting.

After Eldridge read the statement about the committee’s decision to turn revitalization efforts back over to council, no one on council said anything about the statement except Krepps.

Krepps praised the committee for all its work and asked, “Who’s going to pick up the ball?”

The $4 million projects have included upgrades to Fireman’s Beach, Memorial Park, and Water Street from First to Third streets. The work on upgrades on Water Street from Third to Fourth streets remains to be done.

The projects have been mostly paid for through numerous grants written by Eldridge, who has been the liaison between the committee, council and the contractors for the projects.

Contacted by the Tribune, Bob Moss, one of the co-founders of the committee, said he was very proud of the work the group has done, and he is looking forward to the borough completing the Water Street revitalization and the traffic lights.

He said the borough should be able to complete the work the committee has started.

The February decision by council to pull the sole authority to manage the project from the committee was “a significant disappointment” to him, he said, adding he was upset with “the citizens of Conneaut Lake that are acting like children in public reprimands of people trying to do and have done a great job here.”

Moss said he was disappointed that the overhead traffic lights (with the wires across the street) have not been removed, but knows that is coming with the recent Green Light Go grant the borough received for that project.

Eldridge noted the committee will now concentrate on community projects such as the Ice House Festival and the Barbara J paddleboat.

“We are honored to have energized people in our community to imagine possibilities and create a master plan that attracted generous donor investments and government grants of over $4 million in financial support for borough improvements,” Eldridge said in the news release. He continued that further investments are already heading to Conneaut Lake, referring to the $220,000 Green Light Go traffic signal grant. In addition, the committee accomplished documenting and justifying infrastructure needs to be included in the pending Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Route 6/Water Street 2004 proposals.

He noted the committee is pleased to have achieved the renovations, which attracted visitors and improved the borough’s annual financial operations. “The borough has similarly benefited from CLCDC efforts that promoted the gifting of a new town hall and the development of the Evans Square senior residence complex,” he said.

Moss told the Tribune he is glad the committee will continue working on such projects as extending the Ernst Trail from Vernon Township to Conneaut Lake.

Eldridge also reported on the $220,000 Green Light Go grant received for traffic lights. He said it will require local match of $55,000, but no action was taken on how the local match would be paid.

Asked later if he would write grant applications for the borough, Eldridge said, “I don’t know. As we can see, this council is unpredictable.”

CLCDC announces completion of revitalization upgrades and shifts focus to other community improvement opportunities

July 14, 2021

For Immediate Release: Public Notice

The CLCDC announced today that it has now successfully completed constructing its currently planned Borough municipal infrastructure upgrades including Fireman’s Beach, Memorial Park and Water Street improvement projects. Performance of administration for the final Water Street upgrades planned from Third to Fourth Street and replacement of all traffic signals is being relinquished to exclusive municipal management, fulfilling the purpose of the CLCDC to improve the appearance of the town.

This move provides the CLCDC resources and time to better serve its mission to “revitalize the appearance, economic activity and businesses, and to develop the community’s unique identity consistent with its history and location on the lake”.

We are honored to have energized people in our community to imagine possibilities and create a Master Plan that attracted generous donor investments and government grants of over $4,000,000.00 in financial support for Borough improvements. Further investments are already heading to Conneaut Lake due to CLCDC completion of a $220,000 Green Light Go traffic signal grant award, and CLCDC accomplishments in documenting and justifying infrastructure needs to be included in the pending PennDOT Route 6 / Water Street 2024 project.

The CLCDC is pleased to have achieved the downtown Water Street renovations and the rebuilding of Fireman’s Beach to attract additional visitors and improve Borough annual financial operations. The Borough has similarly benefited from CLCDC efforts that promoted the gifting of a new Town Hall and the development of the Evans Square senior residence complex. The CLCDC now plans to focus future energies on other valuable projects of significance to the Conneaut Lake Community. This will include the continued operation of the Barbara J Paddle Wheel Boat, the annual Ice House Winter Festival, as well as new projects under development.

Released by William F. Eldridge
Chairman, Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee

Grants to help modernize traffic lights

July 8, 2021

CONNEAUT LAKE — A $220,000 state grant will allow Conneaut Lake to modernize two traffic signals along Water Street in the borough.

Conneaut Lake is one of 50 municipalities statewide that are receiving more than $15.6 million to support traffic signal upgrades, increasing mobility and efficiency through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT’s) “Green Light-Go” program.

“The safety improvements supported by the Green Light-Go program not only help municipalities relieve congestion and traffic flow, they help Pennsylvanians move safely and efficiently,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in announcing the grants. Water Street is one of the borough’s main streets and its business district.

Green Light-Go grants are provided as reimbursement to municipalities for updates to improve the efficiency and operation of existing traffic signals. Grant funding through the program may be utilized for a range of operational improvements including light-emitting diode (LED) technology installation, traffic signal retiming, developing special event plans and monitoring traffic signals, as well as upgrading traffic signals to the latest technologies.

“The safety of Pennsylvanians remains one of my top priorities,” said state Rep. Parke Wentling, whose district includes Conneaut Lake. “As technology evolves, we have a prime opportunity to adapt and become more efficient.”

Wednesday’s announcement was the sixth round of funding disbursed through the Green Light-Go program for municipal traffic signals.

Retired colonel speaks at Conneaut Lake service

Meadville Tribune
June 1, 2021
By Jane Smith

CONNEAUT LAKE — Dr. Robert Bazylak, a retired colonel with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, was guest speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day service at Conneaut Lake. He spoke about his experiences with the service and reminded those in attendance to consider service to their community in various ways.

Sponsored by Conneaut Lake Kiwanis Club, the program opened with a welcome by Margaret Staahl, the club’s president. The Rev. Russ Hixson, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, presented a poem and gave the invocation and benediction.

American Legion Post 587 members raised the U.S. and POW-MIA flags. Nathan Weagraf, senior at North Royalton High School, whose grandmother lives at Conneaut Lake, sang the National Anthem. Ron Feldmiller of the Kiwanis Club led the pledge of allegiance.

Following a moment of silence, Jordan Vaugh, a senior at Conneaut Area Senior High School, played “Taps.”

Following the memorial service, Staahl told about the recent revitalization efforts of Memorial Park. She noted Kiwanis received a $20,000 bequest from the late George Rutherford, who was a Kiwanis member for many years and was master of ceremonies at the annual Memorial Day service for many years before his death in 2018. Kiwanis Club voted to use the money to make improvements to the park, which included two benches, lamp posts and floral holders — matching other such items in the borough.

She thanked Bill Eldridge, chairman of the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee and a member of Conneaut Lake Borough Council, for his work in coordinating the efforts with Kiwanis and council. She also expressed appreciation to council, the police department, American Legion post, Dickson’s Funeral Home and Ardis Dress and Beauty Shop for their cooperation. In addition, she thanked the 4-H club and scouts for helping with the cleanup and lawn mowing and the Conneaut Lake PRIDE and Charles Groger of the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society for videotaping the ceremony.

Approximately 75 people attended.

Second Phase of Conneaut Lake Project Starts This Week

Meadville Tribune
Jean Shanley

April 19, 2021

CONNEAUT LAKE — Phase Two of the Water Street revitalization project — work on Water Street between Second and Third streets — is expected to begin Wednesday.

Conneaut Lake Borough Council member Bill Eldridge, who also is president of the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee, reported on the work at Wednesday’s council meeting.

He said the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) project will have traffic signs in position Tuesday with work expected to begin on the north side of the street. The work is scheduled to be done within 60 days. It will include curbings, sidewalks and landscaping.

Earlier in the meeting, Zachary Norwood of the Crawford County Planning Commission addressed council about the project.

Norwood said the contract was signed through the county which will approve all invoices for the job. A PennDOT project manager will be in charge, he added.

Councilman Mike Krepps asked about a resolution calling for extensive communication between the project manager and council.

Eldridge reiterated that council cannot direct PennDOT employees — only borough employees.

Eldridge said he would be the liaison between the project manager and council. Council member Mario DeBlasio asked if council were responsible for the matching funds.

Norwood said the borough’s match was the money paid to the engineering consultant for the multimillion-dollar project.

DeBlasio commented that the committee once again has done work to benefit the borough and expressed appreciation to Eldridge for his work. Eldridge has been writing all the grant applications and doing other work in coordinating the project. The first phase was improvements to Water Street from First to Second Street and improvements to Fireman’s Beach.

Construction on Conneaut Lake main street starting in April

Community News

March 29, 2021

At the March Conneaut Lake Borough Council meeting, representing CLCDC, Bill Eldridge spoke about the Water Street revitalization project. Work between 2nd and 3rd Streets is slated to begin in April of this year, weather permitting. COVID-19 had caused all work to be postponed.

The north side of Water Street starting at Marquette Bank will have curbs and sidewalks removed up to Dillinger’s Garage. There will be road aprons installed in driveways for businesses between the bank and Dillinger’s, and new ADA-compliant ramps will be constructed.

Eldridge was pleased to announce that matching light poles will be installed, and the town will have an aesthetic, symmetrical look. Curbing will be installed on the south side of Water Street at Chilson’s Furniture Store and Rite-Aid.

The little alleyway/driveway between Nifty Nails and Chilson’s Furniture was discussed; this alleyway doesn’t meet current PennDOT standards for safe visibility and will not be permitted.

Eldridge added that there are no new storm drains being installed, nor will there be any heavy digging.

He estimated that construction will last 2 months.

All business owners will be contacted by the CLCDC regarding the upcoming work on this project.