NEWTON FALLS City will save parts of project

The city would lose several other grants.
NEWTON FALLS -- City council will salvage more than $500,000 worth of infrastructure improvements from Streetscape before pitching the rest of the $3 million downtown beautification plan.
"They have kept the most important parts," said Marcia Heine, acting city manager.
Being discarded are plans to put wiring underground, replace driveways, reconfigure parking and add trees and new streetlights.
Controversy over the Streetscape project led, in part, to the recall of two councilmen earlier this month.
Council is expected to vote Sept. 9 on legislation that would kill the project.
New decision
At a special meeting Thursday, however, lawmakers decided change the legislation so the city can keep $489,000 in zero-interest, 20-year loans awarded through the state Issue 2 program for new water and storm sewer lines downtown.
Completing these projects will still require some local money, though officials are not yet sure exactly how much.
The sewer department will probably have to contribute $97,000 to separate septic and storm sewer lines, Heine said.
City council also voted to hang onto $80,000 in grants from the Community Development Block Grant program to improve downtown sidewalks and make them friendlier for the disabled.
Changes to curbs, sidewalks and planters had been a $450,000 item in the Streetscape plan.
More modest
Improvements now being considered by council will be much more modest, Heine said.
By deciding to ditch the more elaborate Streetscape project, Newton Falls would be turning its back on a $192,000 Issue 2 grant, a $200,0000 state Department of Development grant, and an additional $567,000 worth of zero-interest loans.
The project also required significant expenditure by the city, including $695,000 from electric department funds.
Property on Broad Street would have been assessed a total of $215,000 for the project.
The prospect of the city's spending that kind of money on what they deemed unnecessary work raised the ire of some residents and business owners.

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