By Ed Runyan
The Western Reserve Port Authority has agreed to spend up to $39,450 for the Council of Development Finance Agencies of Columbus to develop a strategic plan for the port.
Rose Ann DeLeon, port authority executive director, said the plan will “identify where your priorities are” as a port by researching the port’s history, talking to staff, board members and the public, and deciding what goals make the most sense. CDFA’s work will take about six months.
Its report will identify any overlaps among existing economic-development organizations and look at partnership opportunities that may have been overlooked, DeLeon said.
The lone “no” vote of the eight port members was Rick Schiraldi, who said he didn’t feel a strategic plan was necessary, adding that having a plan made is “the result of the dysfunctional group we have on the board.”
The port authority has seen some division in recent years, primarily involving board members Don Hanni III and Andre Visnapuu, who have raised questions about the ethical behavior of current and former board members.
Chairman Scott Lynn said he supports the development of a strategic plan because “I don’t care what eight people you have, everyone won’t agree. I think you get more accomplished with a strategic plan.”
He said the plan will establish goals, and “I think it gives [the board] a better idea of whether they reach their goals. It gives the community a better idea of whether [port officials] are doing a good job or not.”
The port authority also approved a $10,000 extension of an earlier agreement with Hamman Consulting of Cleveland to continue to talk to companies about creating one or more facilities at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport or elsewhere in Trumbull County to load and unload raw materials and products utilizing some combination of rail, trucks and pipelines.
The port authority approved paying Hamman Consulting $10,000 plus expenses in February to begin that work and $29,500 to Silverload Consulting Corp. of Cleveland in August 2012 to conduct a feasibility study of such facilities.
The study, paid for by the authority and Trumbull County Engineer’s Office, said this type of facility would make sense for at least a couple locations in the Trumbull County, including the airport. The emerging oil and gas industry is one of the motivating factors for studying the idea, airport officials have said.
The port also authorized Dan Keating, attorney for the board, to finalize purchase of 5.95 acres contiguous to the south end of the airport property for $25,000 plus $5,000 in professional services.
No specific use for the land has been identified, but it’s a “good price,” said Dan Dickten, the port’s director of aviation. The port authority runs the airport.