Fairport Harbor mayor discusses economic development projects

Feb. 25—Fairport Harbor Village government leaders will keep busy in 2023 tracking the progress of some major economic development projects.

That point was made clear by Mayor Timothy Manross during his State of the Village Address on Feb. 21.

Manross delivered his annual speech at the Fairport Harbor Senior Center, prior to Village Council's regular February meeting. A video of the event was shown in real time and has been archived for future viewing on the fairporharbor.org website.

The mayor provided updates on the progress of significant economic development activities that are happening in the village. Highlights included:

—Third Street streetscape improvements — Work on this project is slated to begin in the spring, Manross said.

The endeavor will take place on Third Street, between High and Eagle streets, and will include new sidewalks; new and additional streetlights; and ADA accessible curb ramps at crosswalks.

Fairport Harbor received a $245,000 Community Development Block Grant for the project, which represents Phase 2 of the village's downtown streetscape enhancement program. The village also is providing $55,000 from its Streetlight Fund to cover the overall cost of the $300,000 project.

Phase 1 of the downtown streetscape enhancement program, which took place on High Street between Third and Fourth streets, was completed in early 2022.

"The new lights and stamped concrete (from Phase 1) look great and we've had nothing but compliments for it," Manross said.

It's anticipated that the streetscape project on West Third, between High and Eagle streets, will be completed by late September, he said.

—Transient marina — Efforts to secure grant funding for this project are continuing, Manross said. The village, Lake County commissioners, Lake Development Authority and project consultant MSA Professional Services all are involved in pursuing grants to construct the transient marina, he added.

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 Fairport Harbor Port Authority's boat launch and some adjacent land at the northern end of Water Street.

Manross made it a point to refute rumors that have circulated in the community, claiming that the marina project has hit a dead end.

"I can't stress enough that the transient marina is an active project," Manross said. "I'll say it again — it is an active project. It is ongoing, it is something we are seeking funding for, and just because we're seeking funding for it doesn't mean it's not going to happen or it's not happening. There's a lot of work that's being done."

In March of last year, the village submitted an Ohio Capital Budget grant application to obtain some of the funding needed for the new transient marina. Specifically, money 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.

Manross added that the Lake Development Authority is getting ready to submit 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, village Administrator Amy Cossick said in a previous interview.

RAISE stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity. Submission deadline for Fairport Harbor's grant application is Feb. 28.

—Chestnut Street storm and sanitary sewer project — This endeavor, scheduled to start in the springtime, 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.

Manross said the storm and sanitary sewer lateral upgrades will help alleviate flooding-type situations for homes on Chestnut Street.

Total cost of the Chestnut Street project is $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. In late 2022, Fairport Harbor applied for and received a Community Development Block Grant for $161,500, which fully covered the village's local share for the project.

—Water vault interconnection with the city of Painesville — Manross said the village achieved success after advertising for a second round of bids for a contractor interested in performing the water vault interconnection project.

Fairport Harbor is seeking a contractor to install two new pressure-regulating valves and a master meter, for billing purposes, inside an existing valve vault on Richmond Street. Completing this work is a key part of the village's plan to purchase bulk water from the city of Painesville.

When Fairport Harbor recently rebid the project, an acceptable bid was received, Manross said.

"So there should be something before council, I think at the March meeting, to move forward with that," he said.

The valve vault is situated in Painesville, just southeast of the Route 535 bridge and close to the city's border with Fairport Harbor. Painesville has given Fairport Harbor permission to make improvements in the vault, to ensure the safe distribution of drinkable water to the village.

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

Once the water vault improvement project is completed, Fairport Harbor can take additional steps toward eventually receiving bulk water from the city of Painesville. After Painesville officially begins supplying water to Fairport Harbor, the village will shut down its water plant, which is more than 90 years old.

"The water plant is just unattainable to continue to operate, and at some point, there will be a major failure there and we would have been in some type of crisis mode to find an agreement with someone to provide us water," Manross said. "We thought it was best to be proactive and try to make a deal the way we did."