GALION — City Council has approved the appropriation of $400,000 for infrastructure development on the north end of Galion.
Council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to pass Ordinance No. 2021-38 on its third and final reading. The money was appropriated from the city’s permanent improvement fund and will be used for the construction of a roadway and extension of water and sewer service on property the city donated to the Galion Port Authority. That property is located at the junction of Brandt Road, Ohio 598, and U.S. 30 on the city’s north end. It’s the site that has been suggested for the proposed Freese Center athletic complex.
Galion resident Roberta Wade sent an email to council that she asked to have read into the record during Tuesday’s meeting. In her letter, Wade expressed opposition to the Freese Center project and asked council members to vote against Ordinance No. 2021-38. She called the proposed athletic complex “a questionable project” that the city doesn’t need, further stating that she believes the facility “will become a huge burden on the taxpayers of our city.”
Council members Kara Ault, At-Large, and Thomas G. Fellner, At-Large, both stated that the funds being appropriated to develop infrastructure at the site would benefit any businesses that locate there, not just the proposed Freese Center.
“I appreciate Roberta’s comment and concern. We’re not voting on the Freese Center tonight; we’re voting on infrastructure for economic development out there,” Ault said. “I don’t think this is for the Freese Center, I think it’s for business in general. I absolutely agree with putting infrastructure out that way, whether it be for the Freese Center in the long term or other businesses as we stand today.”
Fellner emphasized that the funding appropriated was not Freese Foundation money, but instead “proceeds from the sale of the Commerce Center” that were used to create the city’s permanent improvement fund.
Council member Mike Richart, 3rd Ward, asked if installing a roadway and extending water and sewer service at the Port Authority property is a case of “putting the cart before the horse” since there is no clearly defined project currently in progress at the site.
Port Authority board member Gary Frankhouse explained that if there is no infrastructure in place, potential developers will not consider the location. He cited the Sleep Inn & Suites and the Valero gas station on Ohio 598 as examples of projects that wouldn’t have become reality if infrastructure had not already been in place.
“Infrastructure has to be committed to in order to bring the development,” Frankhouse said. “I don’t want to discount that (the Freese Center) is part of the equation. Yeah, we’re far from deciding that, but I think that’s catalytic in nature. I think it’s critical that we look at the Freese as that catalytic-nature project. We’re submitted right now in a pre-vetting mode for a $2 million grant all because of the Freese Center.”
Frankhouse said the majority of the cost for the roadway will be paid for by grant funding from the State of Ohio, which will provide $537,865 of the estimated $661,000 needed to build it.
Ordinance No. 2021-38 was originally drafted with an emergency clause included, but council voted to amend the language and delete the emergency clause from the ordinance. Council voted 4-3 in favor of the amending the ordinance’s language.
June meeting schedule
Galion City Council has released the meeting schedule for June. Following is the list of dates and times for regular council and committee meetings:
Tuesday, June 1 — Laws, Ordinances, Zoning, and Permits Committee meeting, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2 — Utilities Committee, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 8 — Regular Council Meeting, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 9 — Parks and Recreation Committee, 7 p.m.
Thursday, June 10 — Streets, Alleys, Trees, and Bridges Committee, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15 — Economic Development and Airport Committee, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 16 — Finance Committee, 7 p.m.
Thursday, June 17 — Police, Fire, and Health Committee, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 22 — Regular Council Meeting 7 p.m.
All Galion City Council meetings are livestreamed on The City of Galion Facebook page. For information, go to galion.city.