Urban renewal plan given first reading

EAST LIVERPOOL – Plans for the economic development of the city are continuing, with steps taken by City Council Monday night to help move it along.

First reading was approved by council of an ordinance establishing an urban renewal plan for downtown, which was recommended by the economic development and licensing committee following a committee meeting just prior to council’s session.

The area encompasses most of the city between the “book ends” of East Liverpool City Hospital and Kent State University, according to Mark Kubricky of Better City LLC, the Utah firm hired by the city to formulate an economic development plan.

He said after the council meeting that this establishes an area on which to concentrate and makes the city eligible for bonding – essentially, borrowing money on projects with repayment made as a result of the projects.

“The taxpayers don’t pay for this,” Kubricky said, adding, “It opens up another area for funding.”

Kubricky said, “Most cities use this as a tool. It signals to the investment community that the city is focused on an area for economic development.”

Councilwoman Sherrie Curtis voiced concerns that this could mean some residents would have no say if their residential area was rezoned as commercial as part of this urban renewal area, saying she is not sure whether or not she will agree to the plan but that she is willing to review it.

Councilman Ray Perorazio broached the subject of a local fertilizer business in his neighborhood he said is “destroying” the area around Virginia Avenue and Elmwood Street.

“WTI is a garden of Eden compared to Grow Mark,” Perorazio said, referring to the hazardous waste incinerator also located in that vicinity which has been a subject of scrutiny for years by environmentalists.

He said Grow Mark has produced dust and fertilizer that go “all over,” saying, “My grass is beautiful, but what’s it doing to my lungs?”

His comment drew a shout from the back of the room from long-time WTI (now Heritage Thermal) opponent Virgil Reynolds, complaining, “What are you talking about, that (WTI) is wonderful?”

Mayor Jim Swoger pointed out that Perorazio had contacted the Environmental Protection Agency about his concerns and asked, “What did they tell you to do?”

Perorazio said the agency never returned his call.

In other legislative matters, council approved an ordinance authorizing an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the purchase of rock salt and also a resolution authorizing application for a grant, along with the Port Authority and the village of Wellsville, for a study into the feasibility of a new wireless system.