Fairfield won’t cross off either of two bids

COLUMBIANA – Two bids under $300,000 for the state Route 344/ Esterly Drive/Cherry Fork roadway improvements at the Buckeye Realty Transfer facility were opened by Fairfield Township trustees Thursday.

Central Allied submitted the low bid of $288,916. The Shelly Co. sent in a bid of $292,916.

Bob Durbin, the chief deputy engineer for Columbiana County said, “They’re that close because we didn’t miss anything.” The engineer’s office drew up the plans for the project.

Trustee Barry Miner said he was “pleasantly surprised with the bids” and had figured on them coming in at around $350,000.

The high bid was opened first and Miner said it surprised him how low it was and when second bid was opened he was more surprised.

Trustee Chairman Bob Hum said the process will continue toward the project but as it stands there is not enough money. It is about $40,000 short for the 1.5-miles in road improvements, he said.

In July, the township received $250,000 for road upgrades to the facility from Jobs Ohio and Ohio Jobs and Commerce.

Hum said more funding is needed and indicated that Buckeye Transfer needed to chip in.

The Buckeye Transfer hub handles trainloads of fracking sand and plans to build a transloading station to transfer oil and condensate from trucks to railroad cars, store pipe and eventually recycle frack water on the site.

Located at the former National Refractories site, the 95-acre tract has quick rail access and state Route 11 stands adjacent to it.

Anticipating the increased heavy traffic through the facility, trustees, mainly Miner, have worked to find money to improve access off state Route 344, Cherry Fork Road and Esterly Drive.

Buckeye Transfer’s attorney, Mark A. Huston, applauded Miner’s efforts in obtaining the state funds, saying he went above and beyond.

Last week state Rep. Nick Barborak announced one part of the funding package money was released and Miner, in a prepared statement, took note that he “miraculously appeared to announce his unwavering support” for the project after the work to obtain it was “already accomplished” and Miner wondered where he was when the township was in the process of applying for it.

The process will require public hearings and a railroad crossing closing has been proposed, an issue that Ted Ossoff took issue with. Ossoff owns the Valley Golf Club, located across the street from Buckeye Transfer.

He said closing the crossing will put “all the traffic on at least a 30-percent grade.”

Hum said, “You seem to be ahead (of us) … there’s no discussion or decision to close that … our concern is the traffic.

“I don’t know if we can do the projects because it came in at $300,000.”

Ossoff wondered if any other crossings had been shut down because Norfolk Southern wanted them closed. Hum said there were two other crossings closed because it was a cheap way for the township to get added safety.

“As a general rule,” Hum explained, “railroads like fewer crossings … but the decision hasn’t been made on closing that crossing. There are hearings to be held.”

In other business, trustees will invite New Waterford officials to its next meeting to clarify some points regarding the contract with the village’s fire department.

Also, trustees approved an amount to not exceed $5,000 to back an Eagle Scout project by Mitchell Hart who proposed restoring the basketball court on a lot on state Route 7 near Signal and Crestview roads, across from the Ace hardware store.

Hart said he had raised $4,300 in the last year and Road Supervisor Mel Miller said it would take about 32 tons of asphalt to coat the 38- by 87-foot court area.

At $60 per ton he said the material cost would be $1,920 and Miller said he was working on a “little better way” to pave it and Hum asked if it would be less that $5,000.

Miller said it would and trustees approved the money for the project which could start by early November.