Conneaut Lake looking forward to $20M update project to start in October 2015

The Meadville Tribune
By Jean Shanley
Thursday, August 7, 2014

CONNEAUT LAKE ­ Construction of projects to revitalize downtown Conneaut Lake at the cost of about $20 million begins in October 2015.

No timetable has been set for how long it will take to complete the multi-year project, but with more than $2 million already received in grant money, the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee (CLCDC) is confident about moving forward with the engineering phase of the project.

Bill Eldridge, chairman of the CLCDC, announced the construction starting date at the conclusion of a presentation updating community members on the progress of the ongoing revitalization project that started 2½ years ago.

Eldridge said the contract for the engineering design work has been awarded to E.G.&G., which is based out of Akron, Ohio.

The project includes major upgrades to Fireman’s Beach and the business district on Water Street and side streets from Ice House Park to Fourth Street in the borough.

Upgrades include improvements in the infrastructure of the business district, including stormwater management, underground utility lines, fixing sidewalks and curbs and other such changes to not only improve the town aesthetic appeal, but also make it safer for pedestrians.

Reviewing the work done by the CLCDC since the project was started in 2011, Eldridge said the committee of volunteers has been working diligently behind-the-scenes to obtain funding for the various improvements.

With more than $2 million in grants already pledged, Eldridge said the CLCDC has become more confident in receiving more funding because those who help fund projects like to continue to help provide funding in order to complete them, he said.

Phase One has an estimated cost of $6.6 million and thus far, the CLCDC has received grants and donations totaling $2,116,161 — including the most recent grant of $1 million from the federal government.

Reviewing the other grants, Eldridge said some have been designated for stormwater drainage on Water Street and others for curbing, sidewalk and utility line replacement.  A $400,000 grant from the state has been designated for work at Fireman’s Beach where boat docks, pedestrian walkways and other improvements are planned.

The next phase of the multi-year project is the engineering work.  Members of E.G.&G. will survey the streets until November to compile information needed for the design work with the final engineering documents to be finished by August 2015.

Bids for the work will then be accepted in September 2015.

Eldridge emphasized that economic development is one of the major components of the project to help the businesses throughout the area.

Asked by an audience member if union workers must do all work and prevailing wages must be paid, Ben Levenger, project manager for E.G.&G., said they need not hire union workers but that prevailing wages set by the government must be paid.

 Another question from the audience was whether funds from the Dietrich Foundation could be used toward the projects.  The Dietrich Foundation left more than $3 million to Conneaut Lake.  Bob Moss, one of the board members for the foundation, said funds are in the form of an endowment and that infrastructure work is not to be included.  The funds are to be used for historical, educational and cultural project, Moss said.

Noting the high volume of truck traffic through town, a question was asked if truck traffic could be rerouted during the construction phase.  Levenger said traffic lights would be programmed so heavy trucks could get through town a little faster during construction.

Jack Lynch, Crawford County commissioner, applauded the efforts of the CLCDC and said that people like Eldridge really make a difference when it comes to getting grants.

Lynch said the community support is considered important by those awarding grants ­ such as state and federal agencies ­ and said the donated time and effort by the volunteers in the CLCDC has been vital to the success of the project thus far.