Belpre Council Moves on Sewer Extension

BELPRE – Belpre City Council is moving forward on efforts to get funding to repair and extend sewer service north along Ohio 7 from Belpre.

At Monday’s meeting, council approved the second and third readings of a resolution granting permission for Mayor Mike Lorentz to apply for a public works grant through the federal Economic Development Authority.

The Ohio 7 Sewer Project will involve extending sewer service north along Ohio 7 from Belpre to add several new customers through the industrial plants along that section.

The EDA grant being applied for would be $1.5 million toward the project’s estimated total cost of $3.2 million. The city of Belpre is working with the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority and businesses along Ohio 7 with the goal of extending sewer service from Belpre’s limits to Blue Knob Road. The affected businesses will be helping the city of Belpre with a share of the project costs.

The other $1.7 million for the project has been committed by the city of Belpre. That money has been gathered through other loan and grant requests which have been approved by various agencies. The city has been working since 2014 on engineering and financial work for the project, and while financing has taken longer than originally expected, it is moving forward, according to Lorentz.

Answering questions raised by council members during a finance committee meeting prior to Monday night’s regular council meeting, Lorentz and Law Director Tom Webster said Monday’s resolution only gives approval to apply for the funding and doesn’t obligate the city of Belpre for any money at this time.

Webster said by following the process of gathering funding through various grants and loans, there will be minimal or no impact on rates for Belpre’s customers.

Further review and approvals will come before council for consideration and approval before any steps are taken that will lock the city into an agreement or contract, he said.

In other business, council approved the first reading of an ordinance vacating an unnamed alley on Ohio Avenue in the old Amherst Addition at the request of adjacent property owners. Second and third readings are expected to occur at future council meetings.

A ribbon cutting is planned for 5 p.m. Thursday by the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce for the new Belpre Landing rehabilitation center and assisted living facility on Hill Street and visible from Ohio 7 as it passes through Belpre.

The facility features 12 assisted living suites and 51 rehabilitation beds with the goal of providing short-term rehabilitation assistance aimed at returning people to their homes or to longer-term care facilities following joint replacement surgery, stroke recovery and other medical issues.

“The work is nearly complete and the facility is partially open and caring for a few clients. It’s a beautiful facility and addition to Belpre,” Lorentz said.

Lorentz told council the city will be accepting a Community Development Block Grant this year to allow for the continued addition of safe walkways through neighborhoods that qualify. This year is for the 400 block of Walnut Street to Fifth Street to Main Street. The city’s share will be $1,996, Lorentz said.

By Wayne Towner – News and , Marietta Times: JUNE 14, 2016