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NILES City officials work on plan to supply water to GM plant



Published: Thu, May 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



GM is asking the state for worker training grants and tax incentives.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- City officials are putting together a proposal to supply water to GM Lordstown.

The plant is served by Warren, but Lordstown village has contracted with the city for the last 20 years. The contract, which coincided with the village's incorporation, expired this year and the two entities are negotiating a new agreement.

Warren ran a line from Mosquito Reservoir to the GM plant about the time the plant was built.

Meeting: Sam Natoli, Niles service director, said a meeting will be conducted within a week including himself, Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr., Law Director J. Terrence Dull and Randy Fabrizio, water superintendent, to devise a proposal to deliver to the village.

The company is devising a business plan to submit to officials in Detroit, supporting the company renovating the Lordstown plant.

"We want to be a good neighbor," Natoli said.

The company will submit its case to GM leadership when all the elements are completed. Lordstown council and school board and Trumbull County commissioners approved a tax abatement for the proposed renovation project.

As another part of its case, the company is asking the state for tax incentives and worker training grants.

Local officials hope GM commits to renovating the plant and building the next generation of small cars at the Lordstown facility.

The company has committed to making the Chevrolet Cavalier there for three more years but hasn't extended its commitment beyond that. The Lordstown plant employs roughly 4,600 hourly workers.

Costs: The plan for plant renovation, estimated at between $300 million and $500 million, calls for a new paint shop and the reconfiguration of most departments within the facility.

Another crucial element was a four-year contract approved by workers last January that would take effect after the current pact expires in 2003 if the renovation is approved by the company leadership.

"We think we can be very competitive," Natoli said. "A lot of people in Niles work at General Motors as well people in Warren and Lordstown. It would be good for us too."

Company goal: The company, which has experienced service disruptions, is hoping to find an alternate or back-up water supplier for the plant.

Trumbull County commissioners have pledged $1.5 million toward creation of a $3.5 million alternate water supply for the company's fabricating plant. The county has applied for state grants to cover the remaining costs.

"It's to provide a water line to a different water source to the fabricating plant," said Commissioner Joseph J. Angelo Jr.

The line also would serve future development in the area, he said.

The alternate source is likely to be Meander Reservoir by way of Niles, he said.

"We're trying to do everything we can to retain those jobs at Lordstown," Angelo said.

dick@vindy.com




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