Village improvement projects begin in Lowellville

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With the start of spring weather, the village is moving forward with many projects.

“We’re pretty busy,” said Mayor James Iudiciani Sr.

Among those projects are two funded primarily by the Community Development Block Grant program. One of them, the Liberty Street Infrastructure Repair Project, involves construction of new curbs, sidewalks and commercial driveway approaches on East Liberty Street from Third to Sixth streets — paid for with the $120,000 grant.

The village also will spend an additional $19,000 to install a 30-space parking lot adjacent to the project, from Third Street to Fourth Street on the south side of the road. It will be available for public use, and in particular by patrons of Melillo’s Tavern and the Stavich Bike Trail , a portion of which runs through the village.

Both Iudiciani and Ronald Rotunno, a village councilman, emphasized the need for off-road parking there. Liberty Street encounters a large amount of truck traffic, but parked cars lining the street often makes it difficult and somewhat hazardous for trucks to pass through.

Work on Liberty Street began April 11 and should wrap up in early May, Iudiciani said. Foust Construction of Youngstown is handling the project — the CDBG funding for which was originally awarded for fiscal year 2012. Irregularities found in the bidding process, along with the subsequent need to rebid, moved its start date to this spring, instead of this past fall.

The McGaffney Street paving project is also funded by CDBG, though for fiscal year 2013. The base bid of $59,352 for the project accounts for the paving of McGaffney Street from the intersection of Lowellville Road and Jackson Street to Washington Street. The alternate bid of $13,081 will extend the paving 275 feet west of Washington Street.

The grant covers $63,000 of the project, and Iudiciani said the village will front the difference. Butch and McCree Paving Inc., of Hillsville, Pa., has been selected for the job, which will likely take two or three days and be complete soon.

Bidding for the village’s Safe Routes to School project, funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and its Ralph Conti Way Safety Upgrade Project, funded by an Ohio Public Works Commission grant, will be in May and June, respectively.

The $442,000 SRTS project will improve walking and biking safety and access to the Lowellville school complex, 52 Rocket Place, through the construction of curbs and sidewalks. New school-crossing warning signs also will be installed, and crosswalks will be painted on roads at several locations. Iudiciani said construction should begin in June, taking between four and six weeks. It will be finished before school resumes in the fall.

Like the SRTS project, this second phase of the Ralph Conti Way project will improve safety in the village, Iudiciani said. The state will contibute $73,899 to the project, which will involve road widening and paving from the baseball fields along Ralph Conti Way to state Route 289; the village’s local share is $33,201.

In addition, the $2.4 million river-restoration project that includes removal of the First Street dam on the Mahoning River, along with the nearly 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment behind it, is progressing, Iudiciani said. The project is funded by an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant.

He added that the biggest holdup has been finalizing the environmental covenant that must be signed by the village — and also by Sharon Slag and Gennaro Pavers Inc., which owns the southern half of the dam — and approved by the state. The environmental covenant places limitats on future uses of the remediated area.

When that step is completed sometime in early May, the state will release grant dollars, and the project design and environmental- studies stages of the project will begin. Demolition, then, could begin in June or July and stretch into August.

Iudiciani said the village has been exceptionally fortunate to receive as much funding for projects as it has — and added that it “couldn’t have done it without matching funds.”

“It takes money to run government, and we’re very pleased we have the extra money to go after grant money,” he said. “And we’re still out there, actively and aggressively seeking grants.”

Rotunno agreed, explaining that the village has spent and continues to spend its money wisely. “It’s going to help us in the long run, and show residents we’re using their tax dollars properly and giving them a nicer community to live in,” he said. “It’s a little community, but we’re doing a lot of work in it.”

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