USDA earmarks $19 million for FLIP in Port Clinton

May 31, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Meeting in Port Clinton to talk about the city’s infrastructure plan last August were, left to right, Lt. Col. Colby K. Krug, commandant of the Buffalo District of the Corps of Engineers; U.S. Rep.Marcy Kaptur; Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider; Michael L. Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works); and Brigadier General Kimberly Peeples. (Photo by D’Arcy Patrick Egan)

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

Port Clinton’s Forward Looking Infrastructure Plan, or FLIP, got a major shot in the arm on Tuesday, May 23, when City Council passed a resolution to obtain financial assistance that could bring in almost $19 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The grants and loans would help to cover the cost of the first phase of FLIP. The deal has yet to be completed, but it has been approved by Port Clinton City Council and the USDA. It would allow bonds for a $4.9 million loan and a $3.9 million grant for water line infrastructure. It would also provide a $3.8 million loan and a $6.3 million grant for sewer infrastructure, pushing the total for FLIP funding to $18.9 million.

If all goes according to plan, bids on the work will be sought late in 2023. The interest rates on the loans would expect to be a favorable 2.2%, said Auditor Gabe Below. The grants would not have to be repaid.

“I know that the people of Port Clinton are anxious to get our streets fixed. Well, so am I. And so are all of our city officials,” said Mayor Mike Snider. “But we have to get the underground work done first.”

Helping to make that happen as quickly as possible is $2 million from the U.S. Corps of Engineers in June 2022 and $3.45 million in January 2023.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is also giving the city $2 million to shore up 3,000 feet of W. Lakeshore Drive, damage caused by Lake Erie storms and erosion.

There were many around Port Clinton who believed that FLIP was a “pie in the sky” for fixing what ails the Lake Erie coastal town. The city fathers had ignored its infrastructure needs for so many decades, and local residents felt the $34 million approved by voters in November 2021 would never be enough to do such a big job.

But the $34 million was just the beginning, said Safety Service Director Tracy Colston, if the city was going to do it right. And even if they do, it will all have to be be redone in 20 years at a cost of $150 million.

“Port Clinton is a city on the move, with new businesses, music, restaurants and excitement. This city is attracting people who want to live here, to visit and play here,” said Colston. “It’s got a great vibe, and we can’t allow the infrastructure to be neglected again.”

Using plans developed by Poggemeyer Design Group in Bowling Green, now a Kleinfelder Company, city officials knew it was time to go to federal officials with hat in hand and a positive attitude.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, the first woman to serve as a ranking member on the influential House Appropriations Subcommittee, brought in the U.S. Corp of Engineers to examine Port Clinton’s sewer infrastructure and walk along Port Clinton’s impressive new Portage River Walkway and see the improvements.

It was decided last January that it would cost $16 million to fix Port Clinton’s sewers and help protect prevent pollution from flowing into Lake Erie. Last January the Corp’s budget included $3.45 million in federal dollars to improve Port Clinton’s sewer infrastructure.

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