Pending projects addressed at council meeting

Posing for a photo during the first meeting of the year are East Liverpool City Council members (seated, from left): 4th Ward Scott Barrett; 3rd Ward Jeff Kreefer; 2nd Ward Fred Rayl; 1st Ward Ray Perorazio; (standing, from left) council-at-large John Mercer; Brian Kerr; and Ernest Peachey; and President of Council John Torma. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)

EAST LIVERPOOL– With three new members in its ranks, city council discussed several pending projects during the first meeting of the year Tuesday.

Sitting for their first meeting were newly elected members Scott Barrett, 4th Ward; Jeff Kreefer, 3rd Ward; and Brian Kerr, council-at-large, who were welcomed by their fellow councilmen.

Kerr questioned Service-Safety Director Brian Allen about the status of the Elizabeth Street Bridge and Lisbon Street projects, both of which have resulted in road closures.

Allen said there have been some “hiccups from the state” regarding the bridge project, saying, “They’re not holding up their end of the original agreement.”

He said he expects to have a complete report at an upcoming street committee meeting planned for 5:15 p.m. Jan. 16, called by Barrett, who has been named chairman of that committee. Others on the committee are Councilman Ray Perorazio and Kreefer.

Kerr asked Allen if he can stop the train traffic that goes underneath the bridge, and he said he cannot. Perorazio questioned why ambulances can’t use the bridge for emergency purposes, but Allen said that poses a “huge liability,” since the state had recommended immediate closure of the bridge several months ago.

“No ambulance company is going over that bridge,” Barrett pointed out.

In regard to the Lisbon Street project, where underlying pipe has deteriorated to the point officials fear a road collapse, Allen said the project is on hold until after the Garfield Street remediation project is completed.

He said the recent wall removal along St. Clair Avenue came in considerably under budget and he plans to petition the state to use those remaining funds for Lisbon Street.

Barrett, who served on council previously, said, “We knew this was going to happen (with Lisbon Street) five years ago and it fell in your lap. This is not this administration’s fault.”

At the request of Mayor Ryan Stovall, council gave informal consent for him to seek quotes to replace windows on the second level of City Hall, which he estimated might cost between $12,000 and $13,000, based on a similar quote recently approved for replacement of windows on the first level.

Stovall said the new windows for the first level will be ready for installation in February and he thought it would be prudent to get pricing for the next level so the finance committee and auditor would have an idea.

Stovall announced he will offer the state of the city address during the Feb. 5 council meeting.

Utilities Director Tim Clark asked that a committee meet soon to prepare legislation for bidding for chemicals, which is done each year.

Kerr has been named chairman of the refuse & recycling/public utilities/franchise committee and said he will set a meeting soon. Others on the committee are Ernest Peachey and John Mercer.

Councilman Fred Rayl has been named finance committee chairman and scheduled his first committee meeting for 3 p.m. Jan. 9. Others on the committee are Perorazio and Kerr.

Saying she has been working on payroll and has not had time to calculate the year’s ending balance, Auditor Marilyn Bosco told council she knows the city ended the year in the black. She said a report will be ready by the next meeting.

Perorazio said during miscellaneous comments that, when he started as a councilman in 2010, he didn’t have a very good outlook on the refuse and recycling department but now thinks it is “the best any place and couldn’t be any better,” saying much the same is true of the police and fire departments.

He said the only problem he has is with the housing department, saying, “The same issues I had with it before 2010 are still there.”

He said new ordinances have been put into place but the solicitor never sees any referrals for action and said, “If these people can live in these houses, it’s a disgrace. Enforce the ordinances we put into place. If we can’t enforce them, if it’s too much for (planning Director Bill Cowan), maybe we need somebody else. Maybe we need a full-time inspector. Every department is in the city is doing a good job, but housing needs fixed.”

President of Council John Torma took a moment to say, “There are a lot of good things going on. I applaud the mayor and service-safety director.”

Clerk Patrick Scafide shared with council some correspondence received regarding Heritage Thermal Services Inc., including letters from a Massachusetts woman and a New York man.

In her letter, Lorraine Tinger quoted a New York Times article regarding the Environmental Protection Agency, saying city council seems “dismayed” the “Trump Administration” “has not moved to punish the owner of a hazardous waste incinerator in your town.”

She asked citizens of East Liverpool, “What were you thinking when you voted for Mr. Trump?” and several other questions.

In his letter, New York resident Peter Parsekian also referred to the Times article, asking, “Why did you guys vote for Trump?” and saying, “Believe me, you deserve the results of the lack of interest shown by this current administration in your environmental problems. But do us all a favor. If you aren’t going to apologize for voting for him at least stop complaining about the results.”

A third flier was sent anonymously, depicting a photo of council members and stating, “Heritage Thermal Hazardous Waste Incinerator. You were warned. You ignored the warning and failed to protect your families.”

Council made no comment on the correspondence.

Scafide was re-appointed as council clerk 7-0, with Torma noting the only other person to express interest failing to show up for an interview planned at the last council session.

Council also voted 7-0 for Rayl to serve as president pro tem in Torma’s absence. Kerr said he was also interested in the position after only Rayl was nominated but said he believed Rayl would do a good job.