Grist Mill In Bid Process; City To Tackle Vacant Buildings

By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Managing Editor

Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven updated St. Marys Councilors during Monday’s meeting about the progress of the grist mill on High Street.

Foxhoven said there was a pre-bid meeting held last week where 10 contractors attended the meeting. 

Opening for bids began July 24 for the Grist Mill Rehabilitation, Phase 1 project and will close bids at noon Aug. 22 but Foxhoven added that the deadline might be extended.

“We have not a final decision, but we are contemplating extending the bidding period by two weeks,” he said. “Because of the unique materials that have to be used for the mill, the contractors were a little concerned about being able to obtain accurate pricing.”

Officials announced last week in a St. Marys Community Improvement Corporation meeting the pre-bid meeting. The city is hoping to begin work on the mill soon after having to go through months and years of government red tape and since the building has absorbed additional damage recently. An engineer’s estimated cost for the project is just under $1 million to renovate the mill, according to Foxhoven but contractors did not express concern on the projected cost.

In other news Monday, Law Director Kraig Noble wrote a proposal for council regarding an ordinance involving vacant buildings. 

The proposal mirrors that of what city officials in Sandusky came up with in 2012 when the city had 115 vacant properties. By 2016, the city had reduced that number to 15 empty buildings, according to an article on Cleveland.com. 

Last year, city officials in Akron also adopted a similar ordinance when it was dealing with more than 500 empty buildings, according to the 2015 Western Reserve Land Conservancy Thriving Communities Institute survey, which was also cited in the Cleveland.com article.

For Akron, the ordinance designed a new, enforceable program to keep empty buildings from eroding neighborhoods’ economic stability, increasing crime and posing safety hazards. Under the plan, owners of empty commercial or industrial buildings would be required to register with the city and submit a plan on renovating, selling or demolishing the structures within a year, according to the article. Building owners would also be required to keep the properties lit and secure.

St. Marys city officials are hoping to mirror the Sandusky ordinance in a way to revitalize downtown with the number of empty buildings. According to an Akron official who was quoted in the Cleveland.com story, about 550 cities in the United States have such plans for empty buildings.

Council opted to bring the proposed draft to the Streets and Sidewalks Committee. That meeting will take place at 5:45 p.m. after a scheduled Finance Committee meeting at 5:15 p.m.

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