ASHLAND -- The construction of downtown's newest amenity 'Main Street Plaza' was the chief topic a Tuesday night's Ashalnd City Council meeting.
Simonson Construction will handle the project, located across from Ashley's Candy and Nut Shoppe on Main Street.
Located next to Ohio Fire Pizza (which will officially open Friday), a 9,000 square-foot downtown park will be installed that will feature brick walls, added foliage and three life-sized bronze statues depicting a lion, tiger, and a bear. There will also be a black iron archway installed at the entrance, featuring the yet-to-be-announced name of the plaza. The irrigated courtyard will feature a covered stage and will occupy the location of the previously contemplated downtown splash pad.
“This is one of those things that once it’s built, for as long as Ashland is here, I have a feeling that this will become one of the primary gathering spots," said Mayor Matt Miller. "It’ll be the perfect venue for festivals, concerts and other activities.
"This will be top notch.”
An anonymous Ashland donor has offered a six-figure gift for the construction of the park.
Also at the meeting, Council approved an ordinance that sold a parcel of land at the end of Ford Drive in the city's industrial park to Jerry Baker Enterprises for the construction of a warehouse facility. The land was deemed non-essential for municipal usage and will be sold through the Community Improvement Program.
The specified piece of land consists of 26 acres and Jerry Baker has 12 months to construct the facility. The establishment will be 210,000 square feet and will cost roughly $260,000. There will be future employment opportunities at the facility as well.
“This is a very unique property," Miller said. "Often times we strive to find larger employers for larger development of that land. In this particular instance, that parcel is not one that has been appealing to any of the prospects that we’ve brought through because of where it’s located and because of the terrain.
"I think this is a good project to utilize that land for.”
The city also approved a tax incentive that featured a 75% reduction for 10 years. Baker owns a substantial amount of warehouse property in Ashland County.
Council also approved the sale of three properties near Grove Avenue that were owned by the city. The highest bidder will acquire each property, with the appraised rate being in the $900 to $1,000 range for each individual piece of land. The city will accept bids over the next five weeks before officially transferring each property to the highest bidder..
In addition to the property sales, Council authorized the settlement of a lawsuit against the city regarding a drainage issue on a private property that occurred over three years ago. The settlement was for $42,500.
During the public comments section of the meeting, photographer and teacher Tim Black addressed issues pertaining to Council's mask wearing and social distancing practices.
“Regardless if someone is from a particular group, if they are a citizen of this community, I feel that it is the council’s responsibility to hear from those community members," Black said. "It disturbs me to hear an elected official say that they will no longer hear comments from their constituents.
“I have seen photos of our city’s elected officials not abiding by the state mandatory mask policy. As an elected official, I feel that it is your responsibility to set the example for our community in following what our Governor has asked of all of our citizens. As grown men and women sworn into public office, you too should have the obligation to obey our state’s orders regardless if you feel personally whether it is right or wrong."