Conneaut Lake celebrates completion of revitalization project’s first phase

By Jean Shanley
Meadville Tribune
Apr 16, 2019

CONNEAUT LAKE — “I waited a long time to make this announcement,” Bill Eldridge said as he reported for the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee to Conneaut Lake Borough Council at council’s most recent meeting.

The announcement was that phase one of the more than $3 million revitalization project at Conneaut Lake is complete with the bill paid. The project came in under budget by $60,000, he said. He has notified the finance committee of council to determine what to do with those funds marked for the renovation.

The only thing that remains to be done is the removal of the telephone poles and wiring and putting the wiring underground. It has been paid for, but the actual work has been delayed because Windstream is in bankruptcy. The date it will be completed is not yet known.

Eldridge was elated to report the completion of the project, which included major improvements to Fireman’s Beach, a promenade between Ice House Park and Fireman’s Beach, new parking areas at the beach and other improvements including new sidewalks and curbing and new pole lights along the first block of Water Street from First Street to Second Street.

Funding for the next phase of the project, which includes other areas of Water Street, is being sought now.

The borough’s matching funds of $200,000 for the project was made possible through a 10-year loan, which will be fully repaid from additional new boat dock rentals, Eldridge said. He emphasized the more than $3 million project was funded without a borough tax increase.

The project also would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in future infrastructure maintenance costs, which will be avoided because of the infrastructure work was done, Eldridge said.

Eldridge expects the new streetscape and beach facilities will attract new investments and visitors to Conneaut Lake, which was the original purpose of the revitalization project. He said he is “very proud of this major accomplishment” and considers it “mission accomplished” regarding the first phase.

Council member John Chuey commended Eldridge’s efforts, noting council knows how much time and energy Eldridge has spent on the project.

Michael Kribbs, another council member, said, “I agree,” adding that it has been a lot of work and “we appreciate it.”

Eldridge is a borough council member and chairman of the CLCDC, a committee of the council. He serves as liaison between the CLCDC and council.

While working on grants for the next phase of the revitalization project, Eldridge also reported on work being done this spring and summer on replacing the picnic shelter and playground at Fireman’s Beach.

He said two grants have been received toward the project. Conneaut Lake Middle School students raised one, which was a $10,000 grant from the BernzOmatic. The other grant was $10,000 from PNC, raised by the CLCDC.

Work continues this spring and summer on the playground. Designing the playground will be done as soon as possible, Eldridge said. The playground will be located near the concession stand on the grassy area.