Belpre receives grant for planning

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz, center, receives a $5,000 grant for economic development planning at Monday’s meeting of Belpre City Council from Dr. Kim Poole, left, and Jesse Roush, right, with the Belpre Area Community Development Foundation. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

BELPRE — Belpre officials plan to take steps toward the future with a focus on economic development and infrastructure planning.

At Monday’s meeting of Belpre City Council, the Belpre Area Community Development Foundation presented a check for $5,000 to Mayor Mike Lorentz for the city of Belpre.

The grant will help with the cost of contracting with a consultant to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy that will contain implementable strategies to successfully attract and retain businesses, according to the grant’s language.

The proposed study will cost about $30,000. Lorentz said it is his understanding that the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority in Marietta will provide $15,000 and is looking for $10,000 from the city of Belpre. The grant presented Monday can by used by Belpre as part of its share of the cost, he said.

Lorentz said the goal is to create a step-by-step plan the city can follow for economic development and infrastructure improvements. The idea grew out of monthly meetings of the economic development committee involving the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce and the city, he said.

Lorentz believes the city and local organizations have done a good job in their planning and development efforts over the last 15-20 years but getting an outside perspective on possible future steps could be valuable.

“That way, whoever is in office here, whoever is on city council, whoever the mayor or service director is, can move forward with that plan. It will be evergreen, if you will, to completion,” he said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Lorentz said the foundation has approved a one-to-one matching grant that could help with repairs and upgrades for the sports fields at Civitan Park, such as field and fencing.

Lorentz said it has been estimated it will cost about $108,000 to do all of the repairs and improvements needed at the fields. Taking a step in that direction, the city is focusing on one field at a time, with the most needed project first at a lost of $27,000. The foundation is not funding that amount but has offered to provide matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $12,500, he said.

“If we raise $1, they will pay $1. If we raise $5, they will pay $5. It’s going to be a one-to-one match; if we raise $12,000 we’ll get $12,000,” Lorentz said.

Council member Elmer Lee Shutts, chair of council’s Parks and Recreation Committee, scheduled a committee meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss those plans and other efforts needed at Civitan Park.

In other business, the Police and Fire Committee will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 to discuss a proposal to permit golf carts to be used on city streets.

∫ Belpre will hold a city auction at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the city garage on Blennerhassett Avenue.

∫ Lorentz said Belpre will be joining with Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown to schedule Halloween night for Oct. 31 from 6-7:30 p.m.