Lordstown to fund traffic light
Mayor breaks tie on temp signal for Ultium Cells
LORDSTOWN — Mayor Arno Hill broke a 3-3 vote of village council on Monday, as the village opted not to seek $45,000 from Ultium Cells LLC for a temporary traffic signal at the facility’s entrance off state Route 45.
Council earlier this month had approved an ordinance seeking that Ultium Cells reimburse the village the $45,000 cost to install the temporary traffic signal. But village officials said the company then said it would not cover the cost.
Hill said he voted to break the tie vote over demanding the payment, indicating the signal is needed for the safety of motorists and residents.
Voting to repeal the previous ordinance were council members Robert Bond, Lamar Liming and Howard Sheeley. Voting not to repeal — along with Hill — were council members Terry Campbell, Ron Radtka and Donald Reider. The repeal effort failed 3-4.
Hill said he voted against repealing the ordinance because he has already seen the amount of traffic in the area and what will be going in and out of the plant.
“This is a safety issue. People do fly down there. It was the right thing to do. I do not have problem for the village to put some money out for the businesses coming in, with all the investments we have in this community. This will affect the whole Route 45 corridor,” Hill said.
Village engineer Chris Kogelnik said the village will seek funding for the cost of a permanent traffic signal. He said the village paying for the temporary signal now will help Lordstown when funding is sought later for the permanent signal.
“Lordstown is the hot spot, and state officials will come and give us a helping hand with future projects,” Hill noted.
Guy Coviello, president / CEO of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, said he recommended council not repeal the traffic signal ordinance.
“The jobs creations at Ultium Cells and the necessity to remain business friendly are important. We want to build the tax base and send a message to other companies we are business friendly,” he said.
State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, said the state wants to be partner with the village — which “is at the center of what is happening” with new ventures by Ultium, TJX and Foxconn.
“If you have a snag in the road, we want you to reach out to us. … We want to get Ultium Cells open as soon as possible,” he said.
Radtka asked if the state could help the village with the permanent traffic signal because it is on a state route.
“If there is a project that you need, and some infrastructure, we can see if we can get a budget request to help. There are different ways to get funding from the state,” Rulli said.
Sheeley had questioned if the $45,000 for the temporary signal was reimbursable from Ultium Cells.
Solicitor Paul Dutton said a traffic study requires a traffic signal be at the location. He said a letter was sent to Ultium about it covering the cost for the temporary traffic signal, which was not to exceed $30,000 for the construction and $15,000 for the engineering work.
But Dutton said he was informed by company officials that Ultium did not make a commitment to pay the $45,000 and be responsible for the traffic signal.
“This is the temporary signal. The permanent signal will cost a lot more than $45,000,” Dutton said.
Bond said he believed from previous talks that the company paying for the signal was one of the conditions for opening the business.
“We have someone saying that they are not going to do what they said they were going to do. It does not make sense. I don’t feel this is the proper way to do business. Our solicitor contacted Ultium to see if something could be worked out,” Bond said — indicating the obligation for safety at the entrance rests with the company.
Radtka said he voted no because council has an obligation for the safety of citizens and the Ultium employees.
“We need to put the temporary light up for safety and liability,” he said.
Reider said he feels better knowing the village did something to prevent accidents. “We are doing are part to try and alleviate a problem there,” he said.
Resident William Catlin, a board of education member, said the traffic signal is needed.
“Where it is located … there will be a lot of trucks. We know people do not always stop for red lights and some cut right in front of you. I know there is a cost, but we have to look at our citizens and the traffic problems that can occur down there,” Catlin said.