Conneaut Lake gifted with new town hall

The Meadville Tribune
By:  Konstantine Fekos
Sunday, October 26, 2014

CONNEAUT LAKE  ̶  Members of the Conneaut Lake Community Development Community (CLCDC) held an open house Saturday afternoon to unveil the new Conneaut Lake Town Hall, formerly the High Street Church.

The historic building was purchased and renovated for about the past six months as a gift to the borough and community by the family of Ron and Gayle Anderson, longtime summer residents of the lake area, according to Bill Eldridge, CLCDC chairman.

“We have been blessed by the generosity of many financial supporters who all share the same vision of an economically revived and physically improved Conneaut Lake,” he said.  “This gift is truly exceptional.”

Improvements made to the building include new electrical service, energy-efficient lighting and fixtures, a new plumbing system, an extended-life metal roof system, newly installed accessibility elevators and bathrooms, insulated windows, an added 24-foot fiberglass steeple and more.

“When we heard about the downtown revitalization, we thought, ‘ What can we do besides putting a check in the mail?”‘  Ron Anderson told more than 50 open house attendees.  “This is it.”

Anderson believes revitalizing the roughly 100-year church to last another century helps retain the heritage of Conneaut Lake Borough.

The Anderson family withheld the building’s November 2013 purchase amount and final costs pending a formal appraisal, which Eldridge expects will be revealed as a grand total donation at the next borough council meeting on Nov. 12

“The potential financial benefits to the borough are astounding,” Eldridge said.  “Everything has been restored to like-new condition and will be turned over, at no cost, ready to operate without any significant investment costs needed.”

While not originally part of the master plan to revitalize the borough, the new town hall provides the community with more than a freshly modified, two-floor structure for office space and area for private and public functions.  

It also stands as one of the first tangible signs of borough revitalization, according to Kathy Moss, CLCDC member.

“This is a real start we can get our hands around,” she said.  “Things are happening and we’re very pleased.”

Her husband, CLCDC member Bob Moss, said the roughly $3 million worth of grant funding secured by the borough over the past few years has gone mainly into planning and studies so far, which will hopefully translate into visible modifications by the end of next year.

The new town hall is the borough’s “little jewel,” he said.  “It’s really become a part of the revitalization.  The church was vacated a couple of years ago and could’ve been sold or torn down.”

Bob Moss reported local residents have been inquiring as to the status of the borough’s overall revitalization and hopes people will understand that the master plan has taken approximately four to five years to develop and while nothing’s “on the ground” yet, changes are coming.

The master plan involves general improvements like new sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, new light poles with decorative banners, new traffic signalization and improved parking as well as major upgrades to Fireman’s Beach, including new docks, launches, picnic shelter, playground and more, Eldridge said.

The CLCDC’s most recent grants include $375,000 awarded by the state Bureau of Recreation and Conservation and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources just this month and $1 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce in late July.