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NEWTON FALLS Council moves to cancel Streetscape



Published: Tue, August 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city was set to advertise for bids for the project next week.

NEWTON FALLS -- City council has put the brakes on a $3 million plan to beautify and improve the downtown.

At its next meeting, lawmakers also will consider legislation to return $1.6 million in grants and loans and bury the project, dubbed Streetscape, for good.

"If we pull one string, the whole ball unravels," said Dillwynn H. Stevens, 3rd Ward councilman.

"We unfortunately have to bite the bullet, knowing we will have quite a few people upset with Newton Falls, and our creditability as a city will be damaged."

Streetscape would bring new streets, sidewalks and lighting to a downtown portion of Broad Street.

Public opposition

Those opposing it say it is a needless expense and inconvenience, and contend planning for the project was done in secret.

Public dissatisfaction with Streetscape was the primary reason for the recall election earlier this month of two councilmen who supported the plan, Lester Irwin and Thomas McKee.

Both men lost their seats. Kevin Rufener was elected in the same recall vote to replace McKee, and council appointed Catie Karl-Moran to replace Irwin because no one declared candidacy for that seat.

By a 3-1 vote Monday, council ordered city officials not to take any action that would advance the project before the next council meeting, Sept. 9.

The city was set to advertise for bids for the project next week.

Returning the money

Council also voted 3-1 to have the city solicitor draft legislation to cancel Streetscape and return grants and low-interest loans to their sources, including state Issue 2 and Community Development Block Grant.

The city got about $300,000 less than officials were anticipating in grants, sparking discussion in recent meetings about contributing more city money or scaling back the project.

Since the recall elections, 1st Ward councilman Ralph Gillespie has become the only councilman in favor of continuing Streetscape.

"I still feel this is a good project. Sure, we may be $300,000 short of funding, but we should go forward," Gillespie said.




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