ASHLAND — Ashland City Council has authorized the mayor and city leadership to accept bids and enter a contract for 13 demolitions along the city’s proposed Center Run Trail. 

The legislation, passed unanimously, will essentially be the first truly visible action taken in support of the proposed trail, which will run along what’s most commonly called “Town Creek.” It was formerly called “Center Run” on early maps. 

Approximately $180,000 of the anticipated $240,000 demolition costs will be funded by a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission. 

Previously, the city acquired the 13 properties and performed asbestos abatement as needed. 

The properties include all located along Main Street, beginning at Bicentennial Park (near the Dairy Queen) up to Miller Street and some along Cleveland Avenue. The properties affected are only those that have come to agreements with the city. 

According to Mayor Matt Miller, the primary reason for the structures to be removed is to restore the riparian corridor — or the area along the creek. Currently, the structures exist within a flood plain. 

He explained the houses were acquired over the past year — on an opt-in basis — with the $1.2 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission, which also is funding the demolitions. Homeowners received an amount determined by a state certified appraiser. 

Since properties were acquired at different times, some still have residents. Many aren’t expected to vacate the properties until May. 

For this reason, Mayor Miller said, the demolitions may begin “as soon as possible,” but on a staggered timeline. Only those that are vacated would be demolished prior to May.

Simonson Construction to Expand 

Simonson Construction Services is expected to expand its existing facility at 2112 Troy Road in Ashland, according to Miller. 

At Tuesday evening’s regular meeting, Ashland City Council unanimously approved a 10-year, 50-percent reduction in real property tax for the proposed 5,000 square-foot expansion. 

The expansion would not necessarily result in any new jobs, but it will provide space to repair equipment and additional offices. The longtime Ashland business reportedly currently employs 75 full-time employees. 

“This is an example of taking care of existing businesses … A proven customer growing in our own backyard,” Miller said.

President of Simonson Construction, Dan Moore added Wednesday morning that the project is expected to begin this spring and be complete by late Fall 2020.

In January, Council supported a 10-year, 75-percent reduction in new real property tax resulting from the proposed expansion of Ohio Electric Control. The $430,000, 5,500 square-foot-expansion at 2395 Rock Road in Ashland is expected to add three new positions and $90,000 in payroll.

Miller noted the differences between the two, and councilman Dennis Miller chimed in, too, calling Simonson’s request “very reasonable.”

In other news at Tuesday’s meeting: 

— Ashland City Council heard a presentation from the city’s planning commission on changes made to sign codes. 

It’s possible legislation could be brought before council to repeal the former code and to adopt the new code as soon as the next Council meeting. 

The changes would apply to new signage applicants. 

— An advertising permit was approved for TruGreen, represented by Justin Brown.

— Mayor Matt Miller said the city’s dog park will close for most of March for its entrance to be redone. 

Because of the park’s popularity, the mayor said, the entryway had become muddy. This will be fixed during the closure. 

— The mayor and council commented positively about their experiences riding Ashland Public Transit on Friday, Feb. 14. 

Mayor Miller reported that ridership is up. Riders include those attending medical appointments, going out-of-town and going to work. Even some students are now using it as an alternative transportation option to school, he said. 

He also addressed questions about why the system doesn’t offer rides into the night. 

“There’s not enough demand to offer it,” he said. 

However, he went on to say that the transit system does consider transportation requests or schedule changes around special events. He encouraged event organizers to connect with Ashland Public Transit.

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