ELO awaits word on hotel, more words on proposed youth complex

EAST LIVERPOOL – With the city’s largest hotel closing less than a week ago, officials received official word Monday night that another one could be in the works.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Mark Kubricky of Better City LLC announced he has been working with a number of hotel firms and a letter of intent has been submitted by a developer for a downtown hotel.

Saying it is too early in the negotiations to identify the firm or the proposed location, Kubricky said, “It’s a big thing to have a developer who sees the challenges but also the opportunities (in the city).”

In relation to this project, council approved a motion to have Mayor Jim Swoger approach the city school board about implementing a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement as it has for the proposed New Castle School of Trades project also earmarked for downtown.

With a TIF agreement, the district would receive no new taxes generated by the development of the property which would instead be used toward the development. The district would not lose any current taxes from the exiting property being eyed for the hotel.

Another project discussed by council members entails using the former East Junior High School building in East End as a municipal youth complex, with Councilman Scott Barrett broaching the subject, saying he had been approached by city employee Harry Emmerling.

The Hometown Organization for Youth Athletics, Academics and Achievement (HOYA) was started to help provide area youth organizers an outlet to generate greater opportunities for advancement of young people, and Emmerling’s proposal is to use the former school building and surrounding athletic fields for a variety of events.

The facility would be available for not only athletic events but plays and musical performances, art and academic events and activities such as camps, clinics, training, and “anything that adds to the advancement of our area youth,” Emmerling proposed.

The HOYA group would take on the responsibility of creating and maintaining usable space and equipment, as well as other costs above the city’s current financial obligations for the property.

All revenue collected from rentals, fund-raising, donations and grants would be put back into the complex.

Emmerling would serve as liaison between the city and HOYA, and his estimate is that more than 5,800 hours of opportunity exist for use of the facility.

A project timeline presented to council had work starting this month that would include repairing damage to the gym floor from a water break, checking and repairing any utilities, general maintenance and cleaning, followed by the second stage in May during which gym rentals would start as well as creation of more usable space and creating outdoor fields.

Stage 3 from June through August would add rental of the stage and fields, creating more usable space and upgrading equipment, with the final stage in September entailing opening of the majority of space in conjunction with school being back in session and continuing improvements to the facility and equipment.

The city now owns the school, having traded a piece of property on Pope Street to the school district.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell said after the meeting that he had directed Emmerling to speak with Barrett, whose committee handles lands and buildings.

Estell said the group would be required to secure insurance and coordinate events with the school district, which was given permission to use the facility as part of the exchange agreement between the two entities.

“I think the group has a lot of good intentions. I think this should be considered,” Estell said.

The information was forwarded by Barrett to the law director to prepare the proper legislation.