Meter replacement at the top of Leetonia’s to-do list

LEETONIA — Several infrastructure projects are in the works for the village of Leetonia.

Mayor Kevin Siembida shared with council several upcoming projects that will address street and utility issues in the near future during a committee meeting last week.

The most immediate and acknowledged top of the list is the water meter replacement project that is currently under way.

As of now, the project has been advertised for bids, which will be opened at 1 p.m. March 2. Once the bids are opened they will be turned over to Howells and Baird, civil engineers, for evaluation. During that time, the village will be finalizing a loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority, over five or 20 years.

The extensive project calls for replacement of all meters in the village and is expected to cost $425,000 to $450,000, which is a current rough estimate, according to Village Administrator Gary Phillips.

Council in August approved a cooperative agreement with the OWDA locking in an interest rate of .75 percent for a loan for the project. Council also added in December 2016 a $1 monthly surcharge to the customers’ water bill to go toward capital improvement to help pay for the water meter replacement project.

Village officials expect the new system to more than pay for itself, particularly since the meters will be able to be read from the water office instead of requiring an employee go out into the field to record readings. The water department will also be able to provide better community service since the meters will be able to be read every half hour, meaning the department can pinpoint when the most water usage occurs.

Siembida has also noted the village will be able to dedicate more hours to work other than reading meters, which will save the village several thousand dollars each year.

With the project, the village is expected to experience a 5 to 7 percent increase in income from more accurate meters, but Phillips said he believes it will be more like 10 to 15 percent.

Also previously discussed by council, the replacement of the Washington Street bridge is moving forward, with the hiring of a construction engineer impending. The project is included in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s 2020 fiscal year, so the project is currently in the paperwork stage, Siembida reported.

The project will replace the single lane bridge over Cherry Valley Run with a two-lane one. The total estimated project cost is $542, 220.87. ODOT has committed $375,777 through the Municipal Bridge Program, while the county engineer’s office’s will provide $100,000 through the Local Transportation Improvement Program. That leaves the village responsible for $66,443.87; however, engineer Jon Vollnogle said there may be additional funds available through the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Other projects Siembida highlighted included a long-term paving program.

Siembida said council needs to establish a complete list for paving according to necessity and funding. The village needs to get estimates for materials and then council can appropriate money for each year, he said.

The village already has $140,000 set aside for paving next year, Siembida noted.

There are also several street projects that will be coming before council soon, Siembida said. Those projects include the High Street culvert replacement, scheduled for 2021 and estimated at $50,000 to $75,000; Main Street culvert replacement in the brick part of street on west side of town; and the road culvert near the American Legion, which has been damaged by local truck traffic.

Each culvert project needs to be added to the upcoming budgets, Siembida noted.

In addition to the culverts, the village will also have to address the raising of manholes on Columbia Street through town, which is estimated at $2,7000 each for a total of $20,000 (a live demonstration from a nearby company is scheduled for spring and could save the village money on the project); replacement of catch basins on High, Main, Chestnut and Columbia streets; improvement of drainage on Cherry Fork Avenue, scheduled for this summer; and replacement of the State Street main waterline, currently on hold due to recent paving.

The State Street waterline replacement includes 1,800 feet of line at an estimated cost of $250,000 through an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency loan. Superintendent of Utilities Butch Donnalley told council the line currently runs under state Route 344, but it is possible to keep to one side of the roadway to avoid digging up the road and saving money with a shorter line.

Beyond the street and waterline projects, the village is also looking to address street signs, Siembida said.

He shared a project that calls for the update of road signs to Ohio Department of Transportation standards. He said the police department is compiling a complete list of all municipal signs and that village administrators will get estimates to replace the signs. Council will then need to establish a replacement schedule, he said.