Council supports possible renovation of building into rental housing

EAST LIVERPOOL – The first step was taken Monday night by city council toward what could be renovation of a downtown building into workforce rental housing.

By a unanimous vote in favor, council approved a resolution expressing support for the application by Wallick-Hendy Development for housing tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

The deadline for application is Feb. 20, according to information provided last Friday to council’s labor/finance and licensing/economic development committees.

The housing tax credits, if granted, will allow the developer to pursue renovation of the former Brooks building at the corner of West Fifth and Market streets and other buildings in that block to be used for housing and retail stores.

A presentation on the proposal was given to the joint committees Friday by Adam Hughes of Better City LLC, the Utah firm hired by the city to formulate an economic development plan.

Although council made no comment about the proposal, Mayor Jim Swoger referred to recent controversy that arose over a proposal to construct low-income housing on a portion of the former Riverview Florist property, which is now controlled by the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).

That proposal was withdrawn by the developer prior to any action being taken, but council members nonetheless voiced their opposition.

Swoger asked Monday night, “Is there anyone on council for Section 8 housing?” Receiving no response, he continued, “It seems we’re all on the same page. I’m tired of people telling me about this Section 8 housing we’re trying to ‘sneak’ in. We’re not bringing in any Section 8 housing. I don’t think council would pass anything to allow it, and if council did, I would veto it.”

Later in the meeting, acting council President Sherrie Curtis spoke on behalf of CIC President Sam Scafide, saying he had asked her to convey his apology for being absent from the meeting at which the proposed Riverview housing issue was discussed because he was in Arizona.

She said Scafide wanted council and the public to understand there was no “big, dark conspiracy” behind the proposal, but Curtis said council members were upset they had not heard about the proposal earlier than they had.

In other legislative action Monday, council approved ordinances authorizing the purchase of a 2014 Ford Interceptor from Grand Ford as a police cruiser for $32,475 and adjusting appropriations in the capital improvements fund to pay for the vehicle.

Also approved was an ordinance granting an easement to Robert L. Woolley of Park Place Avenue for property along Lisbon Street he recently purchased and improved. It was determined the access to his land goes across city property.

An ordinance was adopted granting an access easement to Growmark Inc. across city property to allow for construction of a truck weighing scale for the business.

In his report, Swoger also told council there was another water line break on St. Clair Avenue that was still being evaluated last night and also said the city had received a small load of salt, which will be used sparingly.