Feb 20, 2018
Editor’s note: This story has been altered to correct some inaccuracies.
CONNEAUT LAKE — Several Conneaut Lake area residents scanned blueprints and architect drawings of the planned revitalization work to start soon at Conneaut Lake as about 50 people gathered to hear the plans from Bill Eldridge, borough council member and president of the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee.
After six years of planning, raising funds and preparing for the project, Phase One is ready to go as soon as the weather cooperates.
A slide presentation of two parts of Phase One — a portion of Water Street and of Fireman’s Beach — was given as Eldridge reviewed the details and answered questions from the audience.
The Water Street renovations will begin on First Street at the corner where Livingston’s Quality Meat is located and will end just past Second Street in the area in front of Marquette Savings Bank and Lakeside Sweets. Work includes new curbs, sidewalks, placing all the utility lines underground, adding decorative lighting, stormwater drainage and enhancing streetscapes.
New three-foot high masonry urns with shrubs will be placed on the street corners.
Eldridge said he and contractors went to all the business owners along that area recently, described what was going to happen during construction and answered questions. Although there will be no parking on either side of Water Street during the work, temporary ramps will be erected to give access to the businesses.
Since parking on both sides will be eliminated during construction, that will free up space to allow two lanes of traffic to operate. Work will be done one side at a time, he said, starting with the northern side from approximately March 18 to May 18. Work then will follow on the southern side and is to be completed within 120 days.
The curbs will be done in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Flower beds and landscaping will be done at Memorial Park.
Fireman’s Beach renovations will include a new circular entrance with a sign marking it as the beach. Eldridge outlined the new boat docking system and details of the new pedestrian promenade, connecting the beach to Ice House Park and allowing people to walk along the beach without trespassing on private property.
The picnic shelter will be moved closer to the restrooms, and a new playground will be erected. That will allow families to have picnics near a playground and restrooms and use of the beach without worrying about conflicts with trucks towing boats.
The docking system will include two metal floating docks which meet ADA specifications. When all the work is complete, an additional 16 docks will be available for rental at a fee of $800. Some “build your own” docks remain available for the normal $600 annual fee.
Work on Fireman’s Beach will begin as soon as weather permits and will be completed by May 25 for the start of the Memorial Day weekend. If for some unforeseen reason the work on the beach is not done by May 25, it will be halted and resumed after Labor Day. If there’s a delay in the new docks being received, that work will continue through the summer.
Most of the questions asked during Friday’s town hall meeting concerned docks. One man was disappointed that docks won’t be available until Memorial Day, noting currently he can dock in April. Eldridge said boats can be launched from a site on the northern end of the lake until Fireman’s Beach is open.
One man said the borough is “shortening the boat season and raising the prices on boat docks.” Eldridge replied, “You could look at it that way.” Eldridge said docks cannot be used during the construction and the committee had to look at the majority use, which is after Memorial Day.
The new docks will require less work and those renting them “don’t have to worry about fixing them,” Eldridge said. He said this year’s season may be shorter by four to six weeks, but renters will have 20 to 30 seasons of new docks.
The presentation closed with the detailing of seven benefits of the project, including beautification, having a sustainable beach and downtown environment, and the possibility of biking and walking trails expanding from Meadville to Conneaut Lake.
The borough has received more than $3 million in grants and private donations for the revitalization project.
Asked about Phase Two, Eldridge said the Conneaut Lake Community Development Committee has received $475,000 in one grant toward the work and is seeking more grants. He said work will be one one block at a time as funds are raised.