By jeanne starmack
A proposal to develop property around Girard’s upper lake is getting serious attention, said Mayor Jim Melfi.
City administrators and council members will not say yet who the developer is, but talks are continuing, Melfi said this week.
The development would include residences, commercial buildings and research-and-development entities.
Melfi said the development is first on his wish list for 2014, adding that if it comes to fruition, it will be quite prosperous for the city.
He said that right now, the talks are focusing on funding for infrastructure, and there was a meeting about that issue two weeks ago in Warren.
“We had a meeting with federal, state and local representatives to talk about infrastructure,” he said.
The property has its limitations, he pointed out, in that there are no sewers or utilities.
“We are cautiously optimistic about this,” Melfi said.
“The lakes have been a financial burden for a number of years.”
Girard bought the two lakes, the upper and lower, in 1995 from Ohio Water Service with the intention of making them a private water source instead of remaining a customer of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District.
The city went into fiscal emergency in 2001, however, and could not afford a water-filtration plant.
The lower lake is dry. The city breached the dam there because it needed repairs the city couldn’t afford.
Now, it pays $242,000 a year for the lakes and will do so until 2015, Melfi said.
He said the city will still own the lakes, with the possibility of a partnership with the developers.
“We can open the lakes to the public, and access would be public,” he said, adding that the relationship between the city and the developer “hasn’t been worked out yet.”
Melfi said that even if the development doesn’t happen, the involvement of state and federal officials means that people are aware of the property.
“That’s exciting,” he said.