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Community Resources requests $656,000 to complete Center for Business and Education

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CR requests $656,000 to complete CBE

By Diane Chiddister

At Village Council’s Aug. 19 meeting, members of Community Resources requested that Council find a way to fund a financial shortfall so that the infrastructure for the Center for Business and Education, or CBE, can be completed next year. The amount needed is $656,137, according to a presentation by CR board member Jerry Sutton.

“The project is now at a critical juncture regarding funding the infrastructure — roadway development, water, sewer and storm lines — for future sales of lots,” according to the presentation.

Community Resources (CR) has secured about 40 percent of the amount needed to complete the project, which has a total estimated cost of $1.1 million, Sutton said.

Completing the CBE would be a significant step for local economic development, according to former CR member Ellen Hoover, who is a co-owner of MillWorks. Currently, MillWorks houses about 17 businesses, with most owned by locals, she said. However, several MillWorks businesses are ready to grow and can’t find a larger space in Yellow Springs.

“When we have someone who needs to expand, where do they go?” Hoover said. “We can accomodate them to a certain point but they have nowhere to go in Yellow Springs at a reasonable price.” The former economic development director of Springfield, Hoover encouraged Council to find a way to fund the CBE.

Peter Williams of the Greene County Department of Development also encouraged Council to find a way to finish the CBE. Of the 70 requests for a business site that his office has received since 2012, the CBE would have been appropriate for 12 of the requests, he said, stating that he receives about one request every two months for a site similar to the CBE.

“A large portion of our business is finding great solutions for businesses that want to grow,” he said.

The need for more funding to finish the project came about when part of a grant CR had been awarded by the Ohio Department of Transportation for the project was lost, according to the presentation. The grant was for $594,000 for design and construction of the CBE connector road, and part of the money was used for engineering designs, which were completed in fall 2012. However, $344,000 of the grant money was taken away earlier this year in a “use or lose” action, since the money had not been used to date, Sutton said.

The loss of the grant money followed a longer than expected back-and-forth with ODOT over engineering designs, according to Sutton in an interview this week. The process, overseen by Village staff but using a contracted engineering firm, lasted two and a half years, as the Village submitted proposals, ODOT asked for revisions, and revisions were resubmitted and reviewed.

“The review process took much longer than it should have,” Sutton said.

The CBE has also been awarded a $596,000 grant from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for water-related environmental infrastructure, of which a balance of $412,000 remains. While CR doesn’t anticipate losing any of that grant money, the possibility does exist, Sutton said.

“We have heard nothing regarding that money being vulnerable,” he said. “But we also didn’t think anything was at risk with the other grant.”

Community Resources, which formed as a group to promote local economic development in 1998, purchased 46.2 acres on the corner of East Enon and Dayton/Yellow Springs Road for a light industrial park in June 2004. The group used a $300,000 no-interest loan from the Village’s Revolving Economic Loan Fund, along with $100,000 from the Yellow Springs Foundation, to purchase the land. The property was annexed to the Village in 2005, and in 2006 11 acres were gifted to Antioch University for construction of the Antioch University Midwest building, which was completed in 2007.

After the federal and state grants were received, the Village agreed to manage the project, and the first engineering study was approved in March 2009, with the third and final engineering design approved in November 2012. The next step for the project is the construction of Gateway and University Drives in the CBE, along with related water/sanitation and storm infrastructure, Sutton said.

Council did not discuss the CBE proposal, but did approve asking Village Manager Laura Curliss to “take the appropriate next steps” regarding a proposal for financing the project, and present the plan to Council.

In other Council business:

• Council approved several final pieces of the zoning code update, which mainly related to administration of the code. However, one section related to noncomforming uses/buildings and lots, which, if they are currently legal, will be “grandfathered in” when the new code is approved, even if they do not meet code requirements.

Antioch College neighbor Hilary Peirson asked if the Antioch College farm in its current form is legal, and therefore would be “grandfathered in” when the code is approved. Village Solicitor Chris Conard said that, regarding whether the farm would be grandfatherd in, “I don’t know the answer.” However, it appears the college received approval for the farm from Village staff soon after the college re-opened several years ago.

“The assumption at the time was that it was educational and it was allowed,” Council President Judith Hempfling said. The farm in its present form, on which students grow fruits and vegetables, includes several sheep and about 50 chickens and ducks.

Council unanimously approved the section on noncomforming uses in the updated code, and will take its first official vote on the code update at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

• Village Water Superintendent Joe Bates reported on the water plant problems that required villagers to conserve water the past week. Two out of the Village wellfield’s four wells had gone down at different times two weeks ago, Bates said, although both have now been repaired. However, the overall problem with the wells is similar to that of the aging water plant, because it’s difficult to find replacement parts for such old structures, he said.

Also related to water plant issues, Council will at its Sept. 3 meeting vote on approving a contract for preliminary engineering for rehabbing the water treatment plant, to be performed by RCAP and LJB Engineering. Council had requested the study to compare the cost of repairing the current plant with the cost of either building a new plant or purchasing water from Springfield.

While Council members stated they hope to get the study as soon as possible, LJB engineer John Eastman said it could not be done before the end of October. Consequently, the decision of how best to source local water will probably be made by the newly elected Council rather than the current Council.

• Council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 3, due to the Labor Day holiday.

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