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Lowellville to get bike path money

LOWELLVILLE — The first fix-up phase for the portion of Stavich Bike Trail that runs through Lowellville will be under way in 2021.

Village officials were informed Thursday they have received a $285,000 Transportation Alternatives Program grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments for repairs on the trail.

The village will be responsible for 20 percent of the amount granted as well as any overage costs.

Lowellville will oversee maintenance of roughly 3 miles of the trail, from Struthers into Pennsylvania, Richard Day, village administrator, said.

Day said that officials have been working on the bike trail plan “for a long time.”

Now that the funds have been awarded, Day said that studies regarding culverts and drainage need to be conducted “so we don’t run into problems during the repaving of the bike path.”

The village is still assessing a contract with First Energy, which owns land in which the trail is located.

Features for the bike trail cannot be built without the company’s permission, but Lowellville could take ownership of the land — although that would be a liability to the village, Day said.

Should anything happen to lines and poles that are located along the bike trail path, First Energy would need access with its large equipment to fix the problems. The question of who would be responsible to fix the path if it’s damaged is being looked into.

Mayor Jim Iudiciani said village officials “are very excited to receive this first phase” grant.

News of the bike path grant comes as Lowellville administration works on economic development.

Iudiciani said that originally, a comprehensive plan was in the works to identify parcels for development. As data was collected, the study turned into a development plan, he added.

Starting this year, Iudiciani said plans to grow Water Street, located on the north side of the Mahoning River, are in motion.

The economic growth doesn’t have an end date, either. “It’s going to be a job in progress,” he said.

Iudiciani said there are ways officials are studying to best attract interested developers. “We have abatements and incentives out the kazoo through the village, through the county, through the state.”

Although a need for a joint economic development district, or JEDD, hasn’t been determined, Iudiciani said a Lowellville incentive grant based on income tax has been created.

One example Iudiciani gave was if a company comes to Lowellville and invests money on constructing a new buildling, it may get an abatement for 10 years up to 75 percent.

“We have a marketing hit list” of potential businesses and developers, Iudiciani said.

That list includes people who may bring a yoga studio, bakeries and boutiques, as well as lawyers, home developers and medical professionals. “We need to grow Lowellville,” the mayor said.

Currently, part of the river is being dredged while the extraction of the dam will be complete later this year. Iudiciani said that a bike and kayak rental space will be added.

Talks of looking into an entertainment district are happening, he added, so that additional liquor licenses can be secured.

“The whole idea… We have the biggest opportunity to make this a destination-oriented community,” Iudiciani said.

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