Mayor Gives Updates On Projects

St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan updated Rotarians on the projects the city has taken on and is looking to work on in the near future on Wednesday.
Managing Editor

St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan gave Rotarians an update on the various projects the city has taken on over the years and projects it plans on working on in the near future — with the majority of the mayor’s speech focused on the downtown area.

McGowan addressed the city’s most prominent legislation this year —the vacant buildings law — which mirrors a Sandusky Law enacted in 2012. McGowan said the law addresses specifically commercial buildings, but also includes residential buildings. The law had its first reading at the Oct. 14 city council meeting.

“It says that if you leave a building abandon, you have to do something with it,” the mayor explained. “You have to keep an insurance policy on it, you have to keep the utilities policy on it — some of these buildings we have around town have not had utilities for over 10 years and we are going to stop that.

“You can’t have them [buildings] boarded up, you have got to either be fixing them, selling them or tearing them down.”

The city still has its downtown façade program which has helped improve 26 downtown businesses over the years. The mayor added that there is no set amount of grants for the program and businesses can re-apply for grant money every third year.

In future plans, McGowan said the city will continue the electric grid rebuild and construction will begin on the new splash pad — which has to be completed by June 2020 in order to use funds from Ohio’s capital fund as well as the canal revitalization project the city is moving forward with now that the it owns the canal in its corporation limit.

“I am fighting with state and federal officials and we have been pretty successful,” McGowan said. “They are coming in again Nov. 1 and we will be taking them on a tour of the canal. We want that thing rip rapped, we want it dredged — the canal is only eight inches deep in some places — and want a treatment train in there so there is clean water. 

“Not only is that good for the city of St. Marys, but it is good for all residents in the state of Ohio, Indiana, Canada, Michigan because we are going to be sending good, clean water to the western Lake Erie watershed. I’ll never see it, but our grandkids will see and their kids will see it. Clean water is one of the most important things we can offer into the next century. We need to protect our water resources.”

One of the most anticipated projects the city has been tackling for years and will soon become a reality is the reservoir mill. According to the mayor, deconstruction will begin in the next two to three weeks beginning with the exterior of the mill as Phase 1 of the project.

“We will have a wonderful community activity center in our downtown and it will be really helpful to our revitalization of downtown,” he added. “But we also need small businesses to come back into our downtown and that is the most difficult thing to get to come in because you need homegrown entrepreneurs to come in and have a product, they have to price it right and they’ve got to make sure they promote it right.”

In relation to the downtown area, McGowan announced the reconstruction of Spring Street, a roughly six-phase, six-year project, with the first phase of that project beginning next year between the railroad tracks on Spring Street and heading east to Knoxville Avenue. 

That phase, along with other parts of Spring Street, will include the reconstruction of the city’s water sewers, electric and the road bed. 

From Chestnut to Main streets, work will be done from storefront to storefront. The entire project also includes repaving Spring Street, adding bump-outs to intersections and a complete facelift of the downtown area. As part of the reconstruction project, the city is looking to renovate the 13 intersections that have a traffic signal on Spring Street and the surrounding downtown area.

“That is what our downtown is going to look like in the next 75 to 100 years,” McGowan said. “It is a huge project with probably $17-18 million and we are looking somewhere north of 65-to-75% state and federal grants to do all of that work.”

In 2020, work will begin on the pedestrian bridge. McGowan compared it to a similar one in Marysville, also on U.S. 33. The bridge in Marysville is a 375-foot long, two-span prefabricated steel truss bridge that includes 1,700 feet of 10-foot wide shared use path and lighting. 

The bridge connects the city’s largest subdivision with Marysville High School and middle school facilities. That project was completed in 2015. 

The mayor also touched on the city of St. Marys making the USA Today list of the top 50 cities to live in the United States, adding that the designation is not something the city of St. Marys applied for, but something that only the city of St. Marys and this area has achieved. 

He concluded by saying that the designation not only applies to the people who work for the city, but it also applies to the citizens of St. Marys.

“We really have a gem here,” he said. “We can make this city be whatever we want it to be, we just have to work together to make it down the road. 

I have traveled way too much for business and I don’t want to do that anymore. I love staying home.”