Corridor cash sought

After applying a federal grant rewarded to the city last year to a street project, Wapakoneta city administrators have resubmitted work on the Heritage Park river walkway project for a similar grant — and they have good indications they may receive the funds.

Wapakoneta City Council members heard the first reading to apply for $2.14 million in a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

“We have applied for money through this program before and we intend to do it again this year,” Mayor Rodney Metz said at Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council meeting. “We are pretty persistent when it comes to applying for grants. Plus, Engineering Superintendent Mary Ruck also received a request that we submit the project again so that is good news.”

Ruck received word from ODOT officials to resubmit the project through the new TAP program. The money for the grant program was set aside by Congress.

Metz explained they applied for and received $560,000 last year through the then Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP). City administrators decided to use the money to upgrade the entryway into downtown Wapakoneta as part of the the $2.33 million East Auglaize Street reconstruction project. Construction work just started and should be completed by Nov. 1.    

The mayor said city administrators are applying for the money now for two reasons — because it is just part of the state grant cycle and it could coincide with other downtown work. He and Safety-Service Director Bill Rains believe the money would be awarded later this year with the project to be completed by the end of 2015 or 2016.

The city is responsible for 100 percent of the costs for architectural and engineering plans, environmental studies and documentation, right-of-way plans and right-of-way acquisition. Garmann-Miller & Associates provided the initial drawings of the walkway along Heritage Park to Harrison Street.

The city also would be responsible for 20 percent of the construction cost, which amounts to $428,129, and this would be paid through the city’s Enterprise Fund.

“The way it looks right now we can use some of the money we are investing in the infrastructure and other improvements we will be doing behind the downtown stores toward the grant match,” Metz said. “It would be money we would be spending to make improvements to the utilities there, such as burying the electrical lines, and other park improvements.”

Rains said the intent is to have this project coincide with the Long-Term Control Plan work, or the installation of storm and sanitary sewer lines, as well as with the burying of the electrical lines so the ground and pavement is removed and replaced only once.

The work is to include improvements to the pavement, curbs, gutters, park improvements and other amenities.

“Our intent is to include both sides of the river from the North Blackhoof Street all the way over to Harrison Street,” Metz said. “We intend to follow the design that Garmann-Miller & Associates did for the city which is still on display at the Wapakoneta Chamber of Commerce office.”

The walk would extend east along the south bank of the river from the North Blackhoof Street Bridge, through Heritage Park, across the Harrison Street Bridge, along the north bank of the river to the Hamilton Street Bridge and then to the Wapakoneta WaterPark.

“They will not pay for a foot bridge across the river because there are two bridges (Harrison Street Bridge and North Blackhoof Street Bridge) already in the vicinity,” Rains said.

Councilor-at-large Dan Graf and 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier agreed public input should be part of the process.

“We need to extend the courtesy of a plan review to local residents prior to the completion of the plans,” Graf said. “We need to provide an opportunity for them to see what will be done and for them to provide imput.”

Metz said a meeting would be scheduled in the future.