State grant funds sought for Freese Center

By Andrew Carter - [email protected]

GALION — The Galion Port Authority has secured a commitment of state grant funding to help pay for infrastructure development at the site of the proposed Freese Center athletic complex.

Port Authority board member Gary Frankhouse, executive and economic development director of the Crawford Partnership for Education and Economic Development, told members of the Galion City Council Economic Development & Airport Committee and Finance Committee that the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) will provide $462,000 in grant funding to help pay for road work at the site located near the junction of Ohio 598 and U.S. 30. DSA is part of the state Department of Development.

The estimated total cost of infrastructure development at the site is approximately $1.2 million, Frankhouse said. Of that amount, $661,000 is needed to complete road work at the site.

Frankhouse said the DSA still has to determine whether to use the funds during the current fiscal year or the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, and has to obtain approval from the state Controlling Board. He said the City of Galion will be listed as the project lead.

According to Mayor Tom O’Leary and Frankhouse, the proposed facility will not place a strain on the city’s water, sewer, and electric utilities.

“I had a discussion with (Galion Electric Department Superintendent Jerry Pangborn) and he said there’s about 2 megawatts of capacity out there for electric (service),” Frankhouse said. “I think we’re over a million gallons (capacity) in both water and sewer from my discussions with the heads of the wastewater and the water treatment plants. So, this facility’s not going to put any type of stress, I think, on the systems anywhere near to what industry would. I really don’t see that being an issue.”

Frankhouse said the total estimated cost of developing the Freese Center is about $12.2 million.

Galion is one of 98 cities statewide that have been deemed eligible to receive funding through the JobsOhio Vibrant Communities Program. According to the JobsOhio website, the program provides “competitive grants of up to $2 million for development projects that help transform areas within a distressed community.” Frankhouse said the Port Authority has submitted an application to secure grant funding from the Vibrant Communities Program.

During the Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, O’Leary recommended amending the 2021 permanent appropriations ordinance originally passed by council on Dec. 28, 2020, by appropriating a total of $400,000 into the permanent improvement fund. Following is the breakdown of how the funds would be used: $50,000 for engineering; $131,275 for water maintenance; $218,725 for sewer maintenance.

O’Leary said the money would be used “to fund the water and sewer extensions out at the Freese Center site.” He noted that he hopes the proposal will “provoke a discussion and move (the development of the Freese Center) along.”

Council member Dr. Thomas Fellner, chairperson of both the Finance Committee and the Economic Development & Airport Committee, said extending infrastructure at the proposed Freese Center location “would be a good foundation for the development of that area.”

The Finance Committee, which includes council members Tammy Siclair-Erlsten and Aaron Ivy, voted to send Ordinance 2021-38 to the full council, which meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27.

By Andrew Carter

[email protected]

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