EAST LIVERPOOL - Due to changes in federal law, the city failed to receive a grant that was to be used for a cityscape project in the Broadway and Fourth Street area, but Mayor Jim Swoger has hopes the plan will proceed in the future.
The city had applied for the $783,125 Ohio Department of Transportation transportation enhancement grant after an April presentation by E.G. & G. project manager Rod Garrison describing the $1,075,120 project.
The project entails new sidewalks, curbing, lighting and landscaping aimed at not only enhancing the appearance of the area near Kent State University but providing a safer environment for students traveling between the main campus building and Mary Patterson building who have to cross the wide intersection.
In addition to the ODOT grant, the project would have been funded with $150,000 from the university, $111,995 from the private sector and $30,000 from the city.
In a letter to Swoger released yesterday, ODOT administrator Randy Lane said that, while the city's project appeared to meet requirements at the time the application was submitted, it had to be re-evaluated due to passage of new Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation.
New criteria established with passage of the MAP-21 transportation alternatives program focuses more on safety-oriented projects than scenic/streetscape ones.
"We put this through as a beautification project," Swoger agreed, adding, however, that the intersection at Broadway and Fourth is a dangerous intersection and heavily traveled.
"We probably should have gone with that (safety aspect) in the first place, but (the grant) didn't call for that, so we didn't," Swoger said.
When he received word that the grant was not awarded, Swoger said he contacted Garrison, who he said "still believes it is a worthwhile project."
With some minor language changes in the grant application, Swoger said, it can be re-submitted for the next round of funding in January, which he hopes City Council will approve.
This, of course, will hinge on whether or not the other funding sources - KSU and private donors - are willing and able to "hold onto their share of the project until we can come up with the money," Swoger pointed out.
Saying, "We thought (the grant) was a done deal," Swoger said he contacted Lane at ODOT to express his disappointment in the city not being funded but said, "We'll be back. If I can keep the others on board, I have every intention of re-applying. I never heard one bad word about this project. I think all of East Liverpool was of one accord on this and I'm not sure that ever happens. It's a very good thing for us."
Although it is possible that some of the existing funding could be used to do portions of the project, Swoger doesn't want to piecemeal the work, saying, "We'd just end up digging up that work" when additional funding for the rest of the work was secured.
He expects to seek council approval to submit a new application in the near future.