Commissioners pledge $210K for Lake upgrades

The Meadville Tribune
By Jean Shanley
Saturday, May 11, 2013

CONNEAUT LAKE — Crawford County commissioners have pledged $210,000 to the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee for its project to make renovations to downtown Conneaut Lake in order to help bring revitalization and economic development.

Bill Eldridge of the CLCDC announced the commitment for the $210,000 at a meeting of Conneaut Lake Borough Council earlier this week.  Eldridge said it is the first government funding which has been approved and documented. 

He added that many applications for grants and other funding sources have been made, and the committee is waiting to hear from those sources.

Crawford County Commissioner Jack Lynch said the county supports the project and while no source has been designated from which the funds will be taken, the county has committed to the pledge over the next three years.  He said the county will use a combination from sources such as the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) and others.

“I’m confident we will work with them.  They’ve done all the right things (in applying for funding),” Lynch said of the CLCDC.

Francis Weiderspahn Jr., chairman of the county commissioners, said the $210,000 could be used as matching funds for grants such as a possible $750,000 grant the committee has applied for through the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

The commissioners unanimously approved endorsement of the project, noting they see it as a “prototype that can be implemented in other boroughs of the county,” according to a letter sent to the DCED.

Eldridge said the $6.6 million revitalization and economic development project is expected to be completed over a period of years as funding and time is available for the project.  The project will be done in stages, taking into account the summer tourist season.

Phase One includes improvements to Fireman’s Beach, sidewalks, storm drainage, streets and crosswalks and overhead wires.  He anticipates the work will begin next year.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Ben Levenger of E.G. & G., the company that has been heading up the project for the CLCDC, was introduced as the new project manager.  He replaces Jack Grossman of E.G. & G.  Eldridge said the E.G. & G. firm members work together as a team and he sees no change in the quality and amount of work being done by the firm with Levenger taking over the lead role from Grossman.

Eldridge also introduced another resolution seeking another potential grant, this one for $150,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  He said if received, the funds would be used for infrastructure planned in the project.  Eldridge delivered the grant application on Thursday morning.

Eldridge said a preliminary application has been made and the ARC asked for a final application, signifying it determined the project is worthwhile.  The grant would be used for storm water drainage on Water Street from First to Fourth streets.

That project cost is estimated at $300,000 and would require matching funds, but Eldridge and Levenger said that should not be a problem because other funds can be used as the matching money.

The CLCDC has been working for several years on the revitalization project which would put utility lines underground, improve the infrastructure, streets and sidewalks in town and improve Fireman’s Beach.

Private donations also are being sought as well as the government grants with a goal of improving the town and bringing more economic development to the area.

Ed Yates, chairman of the CLCDC, praised Eldridge and Chad Waldschmidt of the CLCDC for the amount of time and effort they have put forth on the project, working with council on grant applications and other related work.