Grant will defray cost of EP bridge repair

EAST PALESTINE A state grant awarded for the replacement of a small bridge on Sumner Street was one of only two in the Mahoning Valley.

The Ohio Development Services Agency announced this week the $300,000 grant for the bridge project will benefit 4,761 residents.

The other grant was given to Girard in Trumbull County for its project to improve sidewalks, streets, park facilities and fire protection facilities. That project will benefit 1,545 residents.

The competitive grants totaling $8 million were awarded to 23 communities for the purpose of assisting with public facility, street, bridge and neighborhood improvements, the agency said in a press release.

East Palestine Village Manager Pete Monteleone said the grant will save the village money on the bridge project initiated in 2009.

The village was planning to finance the estimated $316,000 bridge replacement cost with an interest-free loan approved last year, but Monteleone continued seeking grant funding with the hope a loan would not be needed.

He contacted the Columbiana County Development Department and Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) to express the need for a grant.

Upon the request of the development department, County Commissioners agreed to file a grant application for a new federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program on the village’s behalf.

The program was created specifically for addressing critical infrastructure problems and in August of this year commissioners announced the application was approved for the $300,000 competitive grant.

The aging bridge spans a creek and serves as a direct thoroughfare for police and firefighters to get to the east side of town. It remains open to motorists but is closed to pedestrian traffic because the curb lawn has collapsed.

Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman said the in release the state is investing in neighborhoods and business districts to improve the quality of life in a community and position it for growth.

Monteleone said he is very pleased the grant was awarded and thanked the development department, commissioners, and OMEGA for their help.

“This is much better than taking out the full $316,000 loan. This is one of the many ways to cut the debt-income ratio for East Palestine,” he said.

The village and county will provide a small match on the grant and the project may begin in 2015 or 2016, he added.