Geneva City Council briefed on project changes

Jan. 25—GENEVA — City Council heard more about a revised West Main infrastructure project during a Monday night work session before the regular council meeting.

City officials explained a two-phase project that will replace a one-and-done format originally planned.

The original project was to cost $6 million until inflation and supply issues derailed two bids on the project in 2022. The project was originally to go from West Street to the Broadway intersection, but the length will now be shortened.

The project includes digging deep below Route 20 to replace underground utilities that have been around for decades and need replacement. The new plan is to go from West Street to Swan Street, which is about 75 percent of the original project distance, said Geneva City Manager Joseph Varckette.

It is possible the original estimate of 22 months to finish the project may be shorter but that is not yet known. The possibility of a two-phase project would likely take longer, but may allow more grant money to be used and reduce the city's part of the bill.

The hope is the smaller plan may make the project more attractive to contractors, Varckette said. The first bid on the project came in at $7 million instead of the original engineering estimate of $6 million and the second bid received no interest at all, Varckette said.

The city manager said there is a possibility Geneva might qualify for some ARPA funds that could help pay for the project.

The work is important for the city and the full project will need to be completed at some point.

"This will remain a priority for phase two and maybe 3," he said.

The city will present the new plan to the Ohio Department of Transportation and then hopes to put the revised project out to bid. Geneva also will have an 8- to 10-week wait after the bid process to have loan funding approved, officials said.

"I would like to see ground broken as soon as possible," said Geneva City Council President Mario Butera.

Varckette said the new engineer's estimate for the whole project is about $8 million. He also said that once competitive bids are reviewed it will be easier to make realistic projections for the completion of the entire project.

During the regular meeting, council decided to table a resolution affirming the $13 million debt relief on the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Two council members questioned the need for the legislation outright and a third asked that other groups beside the Ashtabula County commissioners and Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas be commended as well.

In other business:

—The first reading of an ordinance changing a small section in the Civil Service Commission that would allow police officers to be hired more quickly. Geneva Police Chief John Camper asked for the revision and said it would not change the quality control aspect of the hiring process.

—A second reading of a resolution allowing unused sidewalk improvement funds to be rolled over to the next year's budget was completed.

—Varckette asked citizens to make sure they do not park in city streets when there is two or more inches of snow.

—Varckette also reported an annexation request for a small piece of land on Ansel Road to be brought into the city. Geneva City Solicitor Gary Pasqualone said the idea drew new disagreements from the Geneva Township Trustees. A Feb. 28 hearing is planned before the Ashtabula County commissioners.

—Varckette also told council that the Gardiner Energy Project has started with lighting retrofit to LED lights nearing completion.

—An abandoned brick building on the ATC Lighting property is scheduled for demolition, Varckette said.