By Ed Runyan
Two Kinsman Township trustees and a Kinsman businessman were among those celebrating the end of the political process and the start of construction early next month of the $10.6 million Kinsman Phase 2 sewer project.
“The town was dying, and it would have died” without the sewer project, said Trustee Greg Leonhard. “It’s going to revitalize Kinsman.”
Now that sewers are about to be built over the next year to serve 343 homes and businesses within a half-mile of Kinsman Center and the Farmdale area, redevelopment already has begun, Leonhard said.
Businessman Dick Thompson, credited with being among the leading advocates who pushed for the sewer system, is renovating a couple of Main Street businesses now, Leonhard noted.
But for about the past 10 years, commercial investment in Kinsman has stopped because the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t allow new businesses to open, even those that replaced former businesses.
The EPA said the small lot sizes in Kinsman Center were not conducive to proper wastewater treatment through septic systems and wouldn’t give permission for new treatment facilities to be constructed because of detrimental impact on the environment.
One exception was the Times Square Restaurant just south of the square, where Wednesday’s ceremony took place, which had enough room to have a new treatment system installed.
Two restaurants on the square closed, and no restaurant replaced them, Leonhard said.
Trustee Linda Miller said the town will be “turned upside down” over the next year, “but it’s worth it.”
The third trustee is Timothy Woofter, who was not present for the ceremony Wednesday but was part of a meeting in 2007 with Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda and Thompson, when Fuda promised the two he would see to it that sewers would be built.
Fuda, speaking to his fellow county commissioners and representatives of the Ohio EPA, local congressmen and Ohio senators, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and numerous county officials, said he’s glad he was able to keep his promise because there were times when the project was in doubt.
Fuda quoted Gary Newbrough, a county sewer planner, who said the “Panama Canal may have needed less paperwork than this project.”
Commissioner Paul Heltzel praised Fuda for his persistence, saying his colleague has found that “when logic doesn’t work, yelling is the second choice and the third choice.”
Ultimately, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program and Ohio EPA provided most of the money for the project with the affected property owners paying about 20 percent.
Marucci and Gaffney Excavating of Youngstown will earn $5.9 million to extend 2,000 feet of sewers from a treatment plant in Kinsman that also is being upgraded under a $1.6 million contract with Utility Contracting Inc. of Youngstown.
The state director of rural development for the USDA, Tony Logan, a Gustavus Township native, said the project will make Kinsman “a more sustainable community and maybe encourage some youngsters to stay here.”
Logan is the brother of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew Logan.