Marietta, Belpre compete for grant

The city of Marietta may have some competition for $31,000 in Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Grant funding allocated to Washington County this year.

“Mayor (Mike) Lorentz is also applying for the Nature Works grant for an archery range in the city of Belpre,” Marietta development director Andy Coleman told members of council’s lands, buildings and parks committee Thursday.

Earlier this month Marietta council members agreed to have Coleman apply for the Nature Works funding that would be used for resurfacing of the Lookout Park tennis courts as well as upgrade parking at the courts to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

On Thursday Coleman said the Marietta Area Tennis Association had requested a cushioned surface for the courts, which would cost $20,000 to $22,000, in addition to $9,000 for concrete for an ADA-compliant concrete parking pad.

“The total amount for that project would be $31,238, which would be the limit available for the county,” he said, noting there are also drainage issues that should be addressed at the courts.

Coleman said the tennis association also requested plants to help provide a wind barrier for the courts.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, said the project should address the basic needs at the courts.

“The resurfacing of the courts is the most important,” he said.

Coleman said the city will be competing with Belpre for the grant money, and warned that Marietta’s past requests to extend deadlines for the use of grant funding on the River Trail and Armory Square projects could impact the city’s rating toward receiving the Nature Works grant.

If Marietta receives the full $31,000 grant, Coleman said a $7,500 required local match would be covered by in-kind labor services on the tennis courts project.

The deadline to apply for the ODNR grant is May 1.

Also on Thursday, council’s finance committee agreed to appropriate $15,200 from the capital improvement fund to improve lighting on the softball fields at Buckeye Park.

The Marietta Softball Association requested the lighting upgrades because the current field lights are set too low on their utility poles, and balls often disappear from view when they’re hit above the level of the lighting, putting players in danger of being struck with a ball.

The finance committee also agreed to appropriate $219,391 from the capital improvement fund to purchase three new police cruisers and an ambulance for the fire department.

Finance committee chairman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, noted after those appropriations the city’s capital improvement fund account would contain $1.3 million.

But another request from the city engineering department will draw the capital fund down even further.

Engineering project manager Jarrod Schultheisz asked the committee for legislation to appropriate $225,000 for roof repairs to the city hall building at 301 Putnam St.

“I know we have to appropriate this money, but I’m also concerned that we’re spending down the capital improvement fund too quickly,” Vukovic said. “But I guess we have no choice at this point.”

Safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said he would consult with assistant safety-service director Bill Dauber to see if there’s a possibility the roofing project could be paid for, along with other city projects, through bond anticipatory note funding instead of using capital funds.