GALION — While much of the focus in 2020 was on the COVID-19 pandemic and issues related to it, City of Galion officials were also engaged in other projects.
Mayor Tom O’Leary noted several of the highlights during a recent conversation, including the completion of the Harding Way paving project, the acquisition of the Central Hotel, and development on the city’s north side.
The Harding Way project, which was part of the Urban Paving Program, cost a total of $1,416,630 to complete. The city’s share ended up being $520,495 after picking up the tab for the installation of new curb ramps that were required by the Ohio Department of Transportation as well as change orders necessary for the project.
“It included paving and some storm water repair,” O’Leary said. “Kokosing and ODOT did a great job getting in, getting the work done, and getting out. There’s a little bit of finish work they couldn’t do late in the season, so that’ll be done this year. The benefits of that project will be realized over a long period of time. ”
O’Leary said the city became a “partial financial partner” with the Central Hotel, 10 Public Square, about five years ago. According to an agreement with the other owners of the complex, they would give the City of Galion their share of the facility. O’Leary said the city now owns 99% of the apartment complex, which is open to residents age 55 and older. He said the city “infused about $900,000 into reconstruction.”
“It has been a complicated transaction since day one,” O’Leary stated. “The city, as an entity, had no choice but to step forward and keep that housing complex moving forward. The takeaway is that the city will pick up the operation, find someone to operate it on a day-to-day basis. We certainly don’t expect to displace anyone. I think that facility works best when it’s fully occupied. Our goal this year is to put it on firm footing and get it fully occupied.”
According to records on the Crawford County Auditor’s website, the Central Hotel is home to 30 apartments. O’Leary estimated the age of the building at approximately 150 years old.
“If the city had not stepped in, then it had a real uncertain fate,” O’Leary said. “Our worry at City Hall and, I think, in the community at large is that it would be absolutely horrible if that building had to be torn down. Without a major, multi-million dollar investment in shoring up the building, that would’ve been the other viable alternative. It wasn’t going to be safe for occupancy if we didn’t step forward.”
In July of 2020, O’Leary noted, local developer JBS Development received $2.5 million from the Ohio Development Services Agency in the form of a Rural Industrial Park Loan. JBS Development is owned by J&F Construction owner and president Jim Mayes, his son Brock and Steve Bridgford, J&F’s vice-president.
O’Leary said the funds will be used to demolish the former Peco II/GE Energy building located at the junction of Ohio 598 and Brandt Road and construct a spec building on that site. He expects that project to get underway soon and hopes it will help attract new business to the area.