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Project will bring historic district into modern world

April 15, 2012
Morning Journal News

The city of East Liverpool has been down, financially, for some time after the closing of Crucible Steel and slow-down of the pottery industry, but down has never meant out for the river city.

Primarily, East Liverpool has survived due to a dedicated core of team players who have always stepped up to the plate and brought to fruition dreams that otherwise would have been outside the financial means of the city's budget.

For instance, the Alumni Clock Tower was made possible by a group of volunteers who designed it, raised money for it and built it, allowing it to stand as a landmark to the city's proud Potter heritage.

Every five years, the All-School Reunion after which others around the country are modeled is held, again due to the dedication of Frank Dawson and other volunteers.

The Broadway Wharf is kept up by volunteers, and Mayor Jim Swoger has taken it upon himself to keep the municipal pool operating, with little or no tax dollars involved.

Now, the city has an opportunity to again bank on the generosity of others with a proposal that will mean more than $1 million in improvements to the downtown with only a $30,000 commitment from City Council.

Not only will the project result in a more aesthetic look to the Broadway and Fourth Street area, but it will alleviate some of the danger that the wide intersection now presents to pedestrians especially students and to drivers.

For a municipality, $30,000 is a minimal investment for maximum return.

We commend Kent State University, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the private donors who have stepped up and provided funding for this project and now urge City Council to do its part by approving the city's $30,000 commitment.

That said, we also urge council to look at one part of the project that could use some tweaking: repairing the brick pavement of Fourth Street to the intersection of Washington Street.

Due to budget limitations, the funding available for the project cannot support redoing the entire street, meaning the washboard from Washington to Market will unfortunately remain.

The city is not permitted to blacktop over the bricks due to the "historic district" designation under which it falls.

We encourage council to consider petitioning the state to end that designation, although many will argue against that.

Over the years, the designation has gained nothing for the city of East Liverpool but has tied officials' hands many times by dictating how projects must be done, most often more expensively.

For instance, the windows in City Hall are badly in need of replacement, but due to the historic district designation, they must be replaced with historically correct frames which are much more expensive than others which could be just as attractive and energy efficient.

No historic designation on paper can make this river city any more historical than it is, and eliminating that designation will certainly not detract from its history. It could, however, allow officials to pave over a brick street that has, for years, been an eyesore and detrimental to drivers' vehicles.



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