Updated | City Authorizes Application for Grant to Pay for Broadway Wharf Project

Updated: March 2, 7 p.m. | Headline revised to report city council authorized the mayor to apply for grant funding.
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — Legislation that will pave the way for implementation of a riverfront bike trail and improvements to the Broadway Wharf was approved during a special session of city council Tuesday.

Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution authorizing Mayor Greg Bricker to apply for a $246,000 grant from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) Regional Transportation Planning Organization Capital Allocation Program. It also voted in favor of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with Urban Design Associates LTD of Pittsburgh for professional services related to the Broadway Wharf.

Both pieces of legislation had been requested by Bricker and were passed with no comment by council after they were recommended by its finance committee, which met just prior to the council session.

During the committee meeting, chaired by Councilman Fred Rayl, Bricker said the city is not required at this time to provide a matching share for the OMEGA grant but did need to pass the resolution in support of the grant request. The deadline for applying was that night, Bricker said.

The view of the Ohio River from the Broadway Wharf in East Liverpool.

If awarded, the grant would be used for preliminary engineering, detailed design and environmental services connected to the Riverfront Trail Project, which would provide multimodal and active transportation access from the city’s sole public park/Ohio River access point between Broadway Wharf and the city’s downtown.

In addition to providing non-motorized off-road access to retail stores, attractions and schools in the downtown, the trail would entice visitors arriving by boat at the wharf to walk or bicycle to the downtown area for dining, retail and cultural activities.

In moving to recommend the resolution to council, Rayl called it a “no brainer.”

Ohio Avenue resident and former council member Linda Ziegler pointed out the city is situated on the Ohio River Scenic Bi-Way which is locally operated by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Re-routing the bi-way, which essentially follows state Route 11, nearer the proposed bike path could mean the two would “work together” with the “potential for a positive impact,” Ziegler said.

The contract with Urban Design also will be at no cost to the city, according to Bricker, who said the $60,000 fee for six months’ work will be paid with money applied for from the state operating budget.

Prior to recommending the ordinance to council for review, Rayl asked for the timeframe for completion of the wharf’s master plan.

Bricker responded that he did not want to give a firm completion date at this time. The project will be kicked off Wednesday when the company and others involved do a walk-through of the city and meet with business owners in preparation for starting work on the project.

As a condition of the agreement with Urban Design, a “client team” will be formed by the city to assist in developing the master plan. Environmental Design Group will comprise that local team, Bricker said.

Although council did not vote on it at this special session, an ordinance was forwarded for consideration at next Monday’s regular council session, which would authorize the creation and implementation of a municipal broadband utility to provide high-speed internet for the city.

Drew Cooper, representing East Liverpool Community Partnership for Revitalization, addressed the finance committee seeking support for the measure, saying the local group in collaboration with The Gateway Group has retained McLernon & Associates to conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of implementing a high-speed wireless and fiber-optic network to residential and commercial locations in the city.

“The internet is our main tool to communicate,” Cooper told committee members. “High-speed, reliable internet where we do our business online is what draws the attention of businesses looking to come into the city.”

A main goal is to provide residents with an alternate, cheaper option for internet services than currently exists, Cooper said, but added there is an opportunity for such a broadband utility to become a revenue generator for the city by expanding the service to other communities.

There is no cost to the city for the study, Cooper emphasized.

Bricker said the broadband project has been worked on for about 18 months, and he said it “is in the best interest of the city,” telling the committee, “I think we’re ahead of the game on this one.”

Pictured: The picturesque Fourth Street architecture in East Liverpool is one of the sights visitors might take in while riding on the proposed bike trail being planned by city officials.

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