Fairport Harbor leaders aiming to make more progress on major projects in 2023

Jan. 7—EDITOR'S NOTE — This is one in a series looking at what Northeast Ohio communities and agencies experienced in 2022 and what is facing them in 2023.

Fairport Harbor Village government achieved success in 2022 at preparing for or moving ahead with significant projects that are intended to improve the community in different ways.

Coincidentally, all of those endeavors are the focus of major goals for village government administrators and council members in 2023.

Here's a look at what was accomplished with each of those projects in 2022, and how the same initiatives are expected to move forward this year.

—Water system changes — "The Village of Fairport Harbor worked diligently in 2022 to lay the groundwork for the future of supplying safe drinking water to our residents," Mayor Timothy Manross said.

In September, the village entered into a 20-year agreement to purchase drinkable bulk water that is treated and supplied by Painesville. Fairport Harbor Village Council and Painesville City Council each approved the contract, which can be extended in 20-year increments.

Before taking legislative action on the bulk-water distribution agreement, Fairport Harbor commissioned CT Consultants, a Mentor-based engineering firm, to conduct a study assessing multiple alternatives to continuing operation of the village's water treatment plant, which is more than 90 years old.

"This has been a complex and important project that we were able to plan for and not have to do as an emergency, as many communities are facing across the country," Manross said.

Overall cost of four projects planned in conjunction with the bulk-water distribution agreement is estimated at $4.8 million. However, the village got some good economic news last year when it was awarded a $2.2 million Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Principal Forgiveness Award — essentially a grant — to defray the total cost of those four endeavors by nearly half.

In addition, the village was advised last year that it will be eligible to obtain zero-percent interest loans for water-system upgrades and changes. Those loans can repaid over the course of 30 to 40 years.

CT Consultants is currently assisting Fairport Harbor Village with seeking bids from contractors for one of those four projects — the water vault interconnection on Richmond Street.

Also, government leaders from Fairport Harbor and the city of Painesville recently met with Ohio EPA officials to review a detailed sequence of next steps, including the initiation of water service from Painesville; the flushing program for the village's water system; and the physical disconnection of the village's water treatment plant.

"An actual start date of service from Painesville has not yet been determined, as it is largely dependent on the availability of materials, and the installation of the pressure-regulating valves and the master meter," Fairport Harbor Village Administrator Amy Cossick said.

—Grant for Third Street streetscape improvements — The village was awarded a $245,000 Community Development Block Grant to put toward the cost of Phase 2 of its downtown streetscape project. Lake County commissioners approved the grant as part of a larger list of fiscal year 2022 CDBG allocations.

"Starting in the spring of 2023, work will begin on the Third Street streetscape project," Cossick said. "This project will take place on Third Street, from High Street to Eagle Street, and will include new sidewalks; new and additional streetlights; and ADA accessible curb ramps at crosswalks."

The village will provide $55,000 toward the project from its Streetlight Fund, Cossick said. Total cost of the project is $300,000.

—Grant for Chestnut Street infrastructure — In late 2022, Lake County commissioners announced that additional Community Development Block Grant funds were being offered for activities in the Public Facilities/Improvements category.

Fairport Harbor submitted an application to receive $161,500 for the Chestnut Street storm and sanitary sewer improvement project. The village's request was fully funded, Cossick said.

The project, slated to begin this spring, involves the upgrade of storm and sanitary sewers on the entire length of Chestnut Street, which runs between Fifth and Third streets.

Improvements will include: New lines for the entire sanitary main sewer; replacing about 1,000 feet of storm sewer; storm and sanitary lateral upgrades for all properties; and pavement resurfacing for the entire length of Chestnut after work is completed.

Total cost of the Chestnut Street endeavor is estimated at $825,000.

In October, Village Council approved a resolution to seek a $350,000 grant and $50,000 loan for the project from the Ohio Public Works Commission. Aside from the OPWC money, the funding package for the project also consists of $425,000 in local revenue.

The Lake County Utilities Department and Lake County Stormwater Management Department are contributing a combined $263,500, while Fairport Harbor is accountable for $161,500.

—State capital funds for transient marina — On March 18, the village submitted an Ohio Capital Budget grant application to obtain some of the funding needed for a new transient marina. Specifically, funding was sought to improve shoreline protection for the boater's beach at the marina site.

Fairport Harbor requested $400,000 and was awarded $350,000.

The Lake Development Authority is managing the development process and securing funding for all stages of the project. Fairport Harbor also is working with MSA Professional Services, a Wisconsin-based engineering firm, which is performing a variety of duties to help prepare for building the transient marina.

Estimated cost of the overall project is $14 million.

The transient marina would be tailored to attract boaters from outside of Lake County for stays typically ranging from a day to two weeks and not compete with local marinas that serve long-term tenants. However, the project also includes upgrades that would appeal to local boaters or owners of smaller personal watercraft.

It will be built on a site consisting of the Port Authority's boat launch and some adjacent land at the northern end of Water Street.

"The village will continue to work with the Lake County commissioners, Lake Development Authority and MSA in an effort to submit grants to support this project," Cossick said.

In February, Lake Development Authority will be submitting an application on behalf of the village, for a RAISE Grant in the amount of $5 million.

"This funding would support the construction of a new breakwater (for the transient marina)," Cossick said.

RAISE stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity.

Manross, as he reflects on all the major projects that are in the works for Fairport Harbor, said the community's government leaders are "very thankful for the continued support from the county commissioners and to Lake County's delegation of state legislators who play a pivotal role in securing funding for the village.

"We are looking forward to another busy year in 2023," he said.