ASHLAND -- Plans to extend utilities beneath Interstate-71 in an effort to encourage development on the east side of Ashland will continue with two modifications: The project will extend a shorter distance and have less direct oversight from the engineer’s office.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, Ashland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor and director of public service to enter a contract modification for services relating to the estimated $2.4 million US-250, I-71 water and sewer extension project.
Mayor Matt Miller explained the first revision by saying, it’s no longer in the city’s best interest to extend the services through the area between the Marathon gas station and Fin Feather Fur Outfitters.
“At one point, we thought we might go ahead and loop it down that direction, but at this time, we’re going to hold on that and end right there at Fin Feather Fur,” Miller said.
The revised plan will provide services to “all the entities already out there” and a proposed new development, but not to Fin Feather Fur.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re precluding that we won’t be able to offer utilities in other directions as we move forward, but if an entity is interested in utilities, the possibility would exist that they help cover the cost, if not cover the cost to whatever sites they hope to develop in the future,” Miller said.
In early 2018, Ashland City Council set the stage for this project. Council approved plans to move forward on the project’s design.
“You can see the corridor that has been developed the most in the past decades was that (US) 250 corridor, but in some ways we were landlocked by I-71,” Miller said, reflecting on the reasoning for this project. “We are convinced if we extend utilities beyond I-71, this will open up the east side for further development.”
He mentioned speaking with at those who’d be interested in bringing retail, development and even housing in that area.
“But until we have the utilities in place, that’s not likely to happen,” Miller said.
Since making plans for the project, the city has worked to secure easements for construction and sold bonds to finance the project, but hasn’t yet determined approximate start or completion dates.
The other modification to the contract will allow for a contractor to provide construction inspections for the project. Initially, the engineer’s office was going to do this, but upon recently taking on commercial inspections, the office has been busier than usual.
Miller attributed this revision to a need to have “eyes and ears out there.”
New Street Signage
Also at Tuesday’s council meeting, Miller announced plans to replace the city’s street signage with new, larger ones that match the city’s branding.
“We’re hoping they increase visibility, give us a more organized look and make us look like you truly are someplace special,” Miller said.
The intention is to start replacing signage in downtown Ashland and to gradually replace all city signage as time and resources allow.
Some, including one at the corner of Claremont and Main Streets, are already installed.
Changes in the City’s Leaf Pick Up Process
Leaf pick ups in the city of Ashland will begin Nov. 4 and continue weekly into December, if need be.
The city’s intention is to stop by resident’s houses once a week, following the day their trash is picked up.
“Rakers” will also be brought back to assure that all the leaves within a few feet from the street are collected.
Miller said he's asked and been assured that the city has the manpower to do this.
Residents are reminded to collect their leaves near, but not on the road.
Miller said, he’s still optimistic that the notorious pumphouse property’s demolition will be complete by the end of fall, as initially estimated by Page Excavating.
He was informed recently that a piece of equipment used for demolishing the structure was broken and is being repaired currently.
City considers rejoining Ashland County Dispatch
City council is currently considering leaving arrangement with Wooster and Orrville to rejoin Ashland County Dispatch.
Miller said, he’s received complaints about both systems.
The city, he continued, has aimed to be “very methodical” in listening to “all the parties involved” about what worked or didn’t work when the city of Ashland previously used the county’s dispatch services.
Council president Steve Workman said, “no hasty decisions” will be made about this.