Weathersfield seeks funding for center | News, Sports, Jobs

WEATHERSFIELD — Township officials have approved seeking grants and other funding as they prepare for construction of a $1.022 million multijurisdictional center to be located at the park off state Route 46.

Trustees on Tuesday approved a contract with VAZA Consulting of Pickerington for technical assistance with applying for Appalachian Regional Commission funding through the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments at $3,680. The ARC funding request will be between $250,000 and $500,000. If awarded, the funding will be used for the center.

Trustees also approved applying for a Congressional Directed Spending Appropriation through Democratic US Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office for a $447,000 Rural Development Community Facilities Grant.

Township Administrator David Rouan said Weathersfield should receive word later this year on the applications’ outcome. If accepted, the work is expected to begin in 2023.

Planned is a 91-foot-by-70-foot, one-story, 6,300-square-foot center with large and small meeting rooms and a warming kitchen to be used by safety forces and other groups. The center would be located west of the township gazebo.

“We will wait and see which funding we qualify for, which will determine when we find out. The state funding we should know later this year, and the federal funding early next year,” Rouan said. “This is a process that takes time, but the senators and other officials know how important this project is for our community.”

Rouan said the trustees have completed the necessary paperwork.

Trustee Vice Chairman Richard Harkins said it will be a huge win if the township can get the funding from both or even one.

The township began the process of seeking funding a few years ago, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been delayed as well as other projects for materials, funding and workers. Officials have placed the project out for bid.

Officials have said the township already has received $500,000 from the state’s capital budget in 2019 that it can use for the project.

Trustee Chairman Steve Gerberry said of that, $50,000 has been used for engineering and architectural services and other costs. FMC Architects of North Royalton is working on the project.

The township also received $150,000 in 2017 from the state capital budget, which has been used for infrastructure such as electric work at the park. The underground utilities and a parking lot for the building have been completed.

Gerberry said the police department and other law enforcement personnel, as well as groups such as the historical societies, 4-H and Scouts, could use the building. Harkins said the center will be a welcome addition to the park, which is used for a variety of events from the Flag Day Festival, the fall Oktoberfest, Easter egg hunt, Santa Claus tree lighting, and local youth sports and other activities.

Harkins said originally, the center was planned as an opiate training center for law enforcement, but that was expanded to include the fire department.

In other business, trustees approved increasing the pay-per-call rate for firefighters from $10.50 to $12.50 for firefighters and $11.50 to $13.50 for fire officials. Trustees indicated there has not been a pay increase for some time, and they wanted to thank firefighters for their dedication to the community.

Trustee Ed Whittaker said they want to show firefighters a competitive pay rate.

“We wish we could do more,” he said.

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