City gains street grant

Wapakoneta city leaders learned the state is providing nearly $2 million for another street project.

Wapakoneta Councilor-at-large Dan Graf announced the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) awarded the city $1.8 million to cover 80 percent of the total reconstruction of West Auglaize Street from South Blackhoof Street to West Pearl Street. The city would be required to provide 20 percent, or approximately $350,000, toward the total cost of the project scheduled to start in 2015.

Graf called the announcement “great news” for the city.

“This will allow us to move forward and permit us to finish the entire corridor of Auglaize Street from the east end to west end of town,” Graf told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “It was long overdue.”

Graf said Wapakoneta Engineering Department personnel will start work on preliminary drawings for the project and work with the state and consultants on schemes and diagrams. This will be completed by 2014 with public input likely scheduled through meetings in 2014 so plans can be altered before the project goes to bid.

The project would likely start in the spring or summer of 2015 and finish by the end of the street season, which is Sept. 30.

Mayor Rodney Metz also welcomed the good news.

“This allows us to do yet another street,” Metz said. “As far as having the money to provide the city’s 20 percent match, we will know more after this budget cycle, but I would certainly think that one way or another we would be able to come up with that money. Right now, things are looking good — not great — but good that we should be able to meet our match.”

Through July, the city collected $1.38 million in income tax revenue, compared to $1.32 million in 2011 — an increase of approximately $60,000. Income tax revenue funds street projects and safety services as well as general city administration.

Metz said the West Auglaize Street project would be a total reconstruction project with installation of water, stormwater and sanitary sewer lines, which would permit the separation of stormwater and sanitary sewer lines. He noted the project would likely take an entire summer to complete.

During a review of street projects the past five years, Graf said the city “benefitted greatly from cost-sharing grants from the state having completed more than $6 million of work on street projects with $4 million in state grants.”

The city received money for two East Benton Street and the Bellefontaine Street reconstruction projects and grants for repaving sections of Rauthland and Wentz streets. They also received money for Short Road.

He noted “another $7 million worth of projects are to be completed between now and 2015 with $5.7 million of that total being from state grants.”

The city has been awarded money for the East Auglaize Street reconstruction and now the West Auglaize Street reconstruction project.

Safety-Service Director Bill Rains credited council and the city administration, past and present, for taking advantage of the state money.

“The city council and the mayor have placed themselves in a position that when these opportunities presented themselves they were able to take advantage of it,” Rains said. “We were fortunate that during the economic downturn we were not as hard hit as these other communities and that is one reason why this money may be coming a little more available because municipalities were waiting in line but were not able to step forward because they didn’t have the money through no fault of their own.”