Salem to reapply for sidewalk funding

SALEM — A recent report on economic development activities said plans call for the city to reapply for state funding to repair sidewalks in the downtown.

The report presented by Michael Mancuso, executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, which oversees economic development for Salem, said the city lost its original bid for a Transportation Alternatives Program grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

In the report to city council’s Economic Development Committee, he said he was working with the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association to try again, but with an idea to scale down the project into three or four segments. The original project cost was estimated at $791,067, with ODOT covering 95 percent of the bill and the city to cover 5 percent along with the design engineering cost, right of way and any environmental concerns.

The goal was to improve accessibility in the downtown by repairing and replacing the sidewalks.

As part of the process, city council approved a resolution earlier this year for Mayor John Berlin to apply for the funding. The city and SOD Center had already sent a letter of interest, then projects with more merit were selected to complete the process by passing a resolution and holding a public hearing, which the city did in May.

The state of the city’s downtown sidewalks has been a topic for more than a few years and at a recent council meeting, former city councilwoman Elizabeth Thatcher asked that the city consider doing sidewalks in residential areas, too, acknowledging the luck of having Columbia Gas replace some of the sidewalks as part of their gas line replacement project.

Howells & Baird completed a field survey of sidewalk conditions in the downtown, with the initial report from November 2015 including sidewalks on State Street from Howard Avenue to Vine Avenue, Second Street from Howard Avenue to Lincoln Avenue and Pershing Street from Ellsworth Avenue to Lincoln Avenue, carrying an estimated price tag of $472,895.

A revised report included sidewalks on north/south streets and two mini parks and increased the estimated cost for sidewalk repairs and/or replacements to $623,838. The update included sidewalks on Ellsworth Avenue, Broadway Avenue, Lundy Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, all from Pershing Street to Second Street, Penn Avenue from Pershing Street to State Street, Liberty Park and the parking lot at Ellsworth Avenue and State Street and the McCulloch Park from Dry Alley to State Street.

The reports looked at deterioration, aesthetics, barriers to handicap access, curb and gutter deterioration, driveway/sidewalk combination deterioration and landscape intrusion.

For the grant that was sought earlier this year, the price was bumped up to account for inflation.

The SOD Center quarterly report included information on grant updates and pending projects, downtown redevelopment efforts, expansion and retention efforts, attraction efforts, promotion efforts, strategic planning efforts, partnerships and focuses for the future, including the continued effort to enforce the International Property Maintenance Code in downtown and the vacant building ordinance.