Greenfield council members heard more good news regarding grant money for the village’s rail line at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
City Manager Todd Wilkin reported that the village has received a $125,000 grant through the office of the Highland County Commissioners that will be used for match money on a 50/50 Federal Rail Administration CRISI safety grant to perform needed repairs on the village’s rail spur.
At council’s earlier meeting in October it was announced $250,000 had been awarded toward the railroad through a federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant.
All the match money awarded so far totals about $1.5 million. That means the village can apply for a $3 million federal CRISI grant “to alleviate some of the maintenance stress we are currently experiencing,” Wilkin said.
In recent weeks, the Indiana & Ohio Railway (IORY), which operates the trains on the rail line, provided a five-year capital improvement plan that totals more than $4 million. The plan includes the replacement of more than 46,000 railroad ties.
It is not the whole amount that IORY’s improvement plan projected is need, but Wilkin said the $3 million would “go a long way” in taking care of the maintenance needs of the railroad, especially the tie replacement, which will bring the 10 mph rail line to a 25 mph-rated line. Ten miles an hour is the minimum rating to be able to transport hazardous materials.
Village administrators have been working with a team of agencies to secure the funding it will take to thoroughly repair the railroad.
If the $3 million grant is awarded, Wilkin said the village could seek more funding to perform other repairs outlined by IORY.
Council chair Phil Clyburn stressed how diligently the village administration has been in efforts to get the necessary funding to keep the railroad viable, which he said is “key” to the region and the 1,800 jobs it supports.
In other business, council member Chris Borreson brought an idea to council regarding Greenfield’s C.R. Patterson and his distinction of being the only black American to own and operate an automobile manufacturing company in the United States.
Borreson suggested that once Mill Street is extended to accommodate the school’s new bus garage, that the street be named after Patterson. It would be fitting since Patterson manufactured of school buses, among other vehicles.
Council members agreed the idea was a good one and expressed that it should move forward.
On other matters, local and regional officials toured Adient on Tuesday, Wilkin said, as they were present to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting for Adient’s 50 years in the community. The manufacturer is planning a public celebration for Oct. 26.
On a manufacturing-related matter, the village has met with Adient and Huhtamaki regarding a workforce shortage. Both companies were informed about appropriations in the state budget that will be used to assist companies to train and retain employees. It is called TechCred. Businesses can access more information, and an application, by going to TechCred.Ohio.Gov. The application is open through Oct.31.
Clyburn said the village has also been facilitating the cooperation of local industry and local vocational schools to help work toward lessinging the workforce shortage.
In the first of what Wilkin said will likely be several meetings, the city manager met with McDonald’s representatives regarding ideas to alleviate the traffic congestion outside the restaurant during busy times of the day.
The Mill Street project is progressing, despite some obstacles, Wilkin said. The city manager thanked village employees, the Stantec firm and Fillmore Construction for working together to get the obstacles taken care of and keep the project moving forward.
The school has begun work at Mitchell Park with the removal of the fence at the varsity baseball field. Wilkin said the village is thankful to the school for making this happen, and expressed excitement at seeing the final product. Other work to be done, according to Wilkin, is the excavation of the field, new fences, and new bleachers.
Wilkin reported that a public meeting held last week regarding the annexation of land now owned by the school district on the north end of town, which will eventually be home to the district’s new bus garage, brought good questions from the residents who attended.
As the process moves forward, Wilkin said the school district will be petitioner for the annexation, and the village will be the agent. A description of the land to be annexed will be created and presented with the petition for annexation. Once that is done, it will be filed with the office of the county’s commissioners.
The Greenfield Village Council meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers on the first floor of the City Building.