GALION — Galion City Council, in May, gave $190,000 to the Galion Port Authority to develop a loan program to help area businesses get back up to speed after regulations initiated because of COVID-19 caused many businesses to curtail hours or shut down completely.
Approximately $100,000 of that $190,000 was loaned to area businesses. The Port Authority is in the process of managing and collecting those loans.
The city is not asking for that money to be returned the city. Council members on Tuesday agreed to allow The Port to continue to manage and collect those loans, and to use that money to start a revolving loan fund aimed at helping Galion business retain jobs or create new jobs.
The $90,000 that wasn’t loaned out by The Port this summer will also be retained by the port authority to be used to fulfill its mission, which is explained on the first page of the Galion Port Authority website: A port authority is authorized under Ohio law to construct facilities, issue bonds, make loans, and sell or buy real and personal property. A port can also offer economic development financing products in which governmental organizations cannot.
Mayor Tom O’Leary wants the port authority to use that funding to purchase the old Renschville school property on New Winchester Road. O’Leary has stressed that finding a way to get new housing in Galion is a priority. He said in recent weeks a Canton-area developer has expressed a desire to turn that property into a housing development, starting with at least five new homes.
“That property has sat there for a decade,” O’Leary said, explaining that there has not really been any urgency to sell it.”
“We have a motivated entity interested. He is talking about five homes. The sale would include the entire 10 acres,” O’Leary explained.
He envisions more homes being built there in coming years.
“In the future, something will have to be done with the old Elliott property,” he said. “But I don’t see that as a reason not to proceed with the Renschvlle property. This is the right move to make. And The Port — if it has the right resources — , can do this better than we can.”
O’Leary explained port authorities have different rules to abide by when selling property.
He added that “by seeding the Port Authority, it will be better able to produce the results we are looking for.”
Council member Ken Bodkins wondered if the city should get something back for that seed money, but O’Leary said the future rewards will more than pay for what the city is giving to The Port.
Council member Aaron Ivy liked the deal, saying: “This could lead to other homes in that area, maybe another 10 to 15 in the future.”
Council member Thomas Fellner also likes the deal. “No, the city coffers will not get that $80,000 back, but the city will get a lot more than that back in the long run.”
That ordinance passed unanimously.
Council members also passed a resolution having to do with easements or the buying of property along Ohio 598 for the upcoming road widening project.
“This resolution deals with 25 of approximately 35 parcels,” said City of Galion attorney Thomas Palmer. “These are the parcels in the city corporation limits. The property owners have already have contacted. If everyone is in agreement, city council will have have legislation before it to approve this plan. Most of these are temporary easements to allow them to work on Ohio 598. Some are permanent takings of land.”
Council members also approved the use of about $30,000 in unspent CDBG money from 2011 to help in the demolition of the old bakery adjacent to the Galion Elks. The money has been sitting unused for years and the city received permission to use it for this project.
“It’s sad another old building is being lost in the downtown area, but it’s gotten to the point where it is going to be too expensive for someone to claim it,” O’Leary explained.
He said future plans for the Galion Elks include more parking and adding a private entrance for the club’s banquet room.