Stack Debated

ST. MARYS — The future of one of the staples of the city’s skyline should be determined in two weeks.

St. Marys City Councilors are expected to determine the fate of the former power plant’s smoke stack during their July 23 meeting. Mayor Pat McGowan broached the topic of the smoke stack during Monday night’s city council meeting.

“We’ve been approached by several citizens about wanting to preserve it,” McGowan said.

On June 28, Safety-Service Director Jason Little opened bids for the smoke stack’s demolition. The bids ranged from $116,700 to $194,874. The estimate to repair the smoke stack is $125,000.

City Law Director Kraig Noble said he spoke with the contractor who supplied the estimate regarding the smoke stack’s restoration. He noted the project would include putting a cap on the structure as well as cleaning the outside rings.

“Essentially this goes and repairs all the cracks,” Noble said, noting the cap would prevent moisture from entering the stack. “(The contractor said) about every two years you should have somebody come look at it.”

Noble said some communities have placed cellular phone antennas on top of stacks. That could provide some revenue that could offset ongoing maintenance costs, Noble noted.

“If we can get it paid for itself, I’m game,” Councilor-at-large Jim Harris said. “Otherwise, let’s tear it down.”

McGowan said keeping the smoke stack would give the city a link to its past.

“There’s people around who feel like that’s part of our skyline,” McGowan said. “You could put neon letters on it that says, ‘St. Marys’ on it on two sides.”

Dennis Vossler, the 2nd Ward Councilor, questioned if it was more cost effective to tear down the structure then to repair it now and then be faced with the cost of having to demolish the stack in the future.

“If in five years from now we don’t have anyone who wants to put an antenna on it and it’s not making any more, now you are still back to putting $100,000 into tearing it down,” Vossler said. “So now you’ve got $200,000 invested into it instead of $100,000 into tearing it down.”

McGowan said he would examine the feasibility of adding an antenna to the stack as a way to offset costs. That information will be brought to a finance committee meeting next week and a recommendation would be made to councilors regarding the stack’s future.

McGowan also updated councilors on the early stages of his exploration regarding a possible digital sign to be placed along U.S. 33 and Ohio 66.

“There are five million cars a year that come by there,” McGowan said. “It’s something that would promote the city of St. Marys ... We’ve been talking with some companies out of Dayton, just trying to get some costs together to see what something like that would cost. It would be a big sign.”

In other business, councilors:

• Approved the third and final reading of an emergency resolution authorizing the safety-service director to transfer certain real estate to the CIC.

• Approved the first reading of an emergency resolution authorizing the safety-service director to enter into an agreement with HP Enterprise Services LLC for payment of income tax by credit card.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance creating groundwater protection overlay district zoning regulations.

• Set electric/communication and finance committee meetings for 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. respectively on July 18.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 23 at the city building located along East Spring Street.