Conneaut Lake Borough Council gives development committee vote of confidence after lengthy, somewhat heated talks

By Jean Shanley

Meadville Tribune
October 30, 2020

CONNEAUT LAKE — Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee received a “vote of confidence” from borough council at last week’s meeting after a lengthy discussion about what authority the CLCDC has to act on revitalization projects in the borough.

The subject started when Bob Moss, one of the founders of the CLCDC, addressed council at the start of the meeting. He explained how he got started when the task force was founded with the idea of beautifying the town by getting rid of overhead wires and improving the street lights.

He said the plan first started about 2006, but nothing happened until 2012 when his wife, Kathy, insisted something had to be done. The CLCDC then was formed and the first project was Ice House Park.

From there, CLCDC started working on the revitalization project, which has resulted in a multi-million dollar project improving Fireman’s Beach and Water Street. The first phase on Water Street from First Street to Second Street is complete and the next phase from Second Street to Third Street will happen next year.

Moss said early on when the projects were first suggested, people were skeptical of the committee and wondered if the projects would ever happen.

He said the CLCDC did not go behind anyone’s back in planning the revitalization and had open meetings discussing the project and showing plans for it.

He said he had learned that there has been some “undermining” of the CLCDC and he is “appalled” by that.

He added that if borough council does not want to support the CLCDC, but wants to micromanage the CLCDC, to please let them know.

In response, president Dick Hollalbaugh said no one is against the CLCDC and praised the group for the work it has done.

Mario deBlasio, a new member of council, said he is pleased that “we’ve moved forward,” but believes the CLCDC should “tighten up its ship.”

Also speaking on behalf of the CLCDC was Ed Yates, the former chairman who signed the agreement with the borough on behalf of the CLCDC. He suggested there is no need to “let personalities get in the way” of the work the CLCDC does.

He suggested organization and council work together and urged them to “not lose sight” of improving the borough. He recalled when the project was first discussed, the late Dwight Stallard, who was on council at the time, said, “The door is open; let’s walk through it.”

Later in the meeting when it came time for the monthly CLCDC update, Bill Eldridge, member of council and chairman of the CLCDC, asked for support of council going forward with the plans.

He said he had learned of e-mails being sent to council members, which he believes were done to undermine the authority of the CLCDC. He asked for council to clarify again that the CLCDC has the authority to oversee the revitalization projects.

A 90-minute discussion followed in which deBlasio insisted that council needed to be more involved and have the final say on any change orders which must be done on construction, suggesting a committee of three members of council approve any change orders.

After a somewhat heated exchange during the lengthy discussion, council gave the group its vote of confidence to continue working on the project, including some more grants to fund the projects.

Eldridge said that in 2024 the state is planning a major paving project and hopes to get some funds for additional work on Water Street through that grant.