Steubenville Marina backers are urged to ‘see possibilities’

DISCUSSION — Friends of the Marina gathered Thursday to work on a long-term strategy to turn the property into a recreational focal point. Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn said they need to think of it as a long-term project. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Even Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn says they’ll have to “think big, start small” to turn the old marina into a community showpiece.

About 18 people, including three sitting council members, the city manager and a former mayor, were on hand for Thursday’s Friends of the Marina planning session, which began with a walk-through at the marina before moving to Froehlich’s Classic Corner to talk strategy.

Hahn said it was important for the committee to “see the possibilities, to recognize the problems, to get a feel for this place.”

“It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to walk the length of it,” she said. “Part of what I believe we need to do is think of it as a 10- or 15-, even a 20-year project.”

Former mayor Domenick Mucci figures there’s tremendous potential at the marina, “it’s just going to take commitment and investment.”

“You have to map out a strategy for what you want,” added Mucci, currently president of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. “It’s an excellent asset for the city. There’s a lot of potential for recreation projects and, hopefully, community development in future.”

Mucci was able to secure a $100,000 state capital fund grant, awarded in 2018, to extend the LaBelle Avenue water line to the marina.

Council spent weeks debating the feasibility of trying to re-purpose the money elsewhere in the city’s recreation program, eventually voting to extend the water line “as far as $100,000 will take it.”

Mucci said he deliberately chose to focus on the water line rather than restrooms “because to do any kind of development (at the marina) you’re going to need a reliable water supply, and that’s why I requested that money.”

OMEGA Community Development Specialist Trina Woodland said there are other grant opportunities available “for certain phases” of marina development, though some of what the group wants to do “is going to have to be done in small steps, like redoing the (lock) wall.”

“You’re not going to get 100 percent funding, but we can get bits and pieces (of it),” Woodland said, adding, “You need to develop a master plan, you’ve got to get your vision in place.”

Hahn said they need to take baby steps, adding “it’s about forward progress, working toward a goal.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Parks and Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf said. “But if we have a plan — a five-, 10- or 20-year plan — we can say, ‘this is what we’re going to tackle this year.’

“My vision is that 15 or 20 years form now it can be a great place for the community to gather and make use of the river,” Fetherolf said, adding there was a lot of “great discussion” at the strategy session.

“In the coming weeks I will be setting up a parks foundation so people can donate money to various park projects and we will be able to apply for a wider variety of grants,” she said.

In addition to Hahn and City Manager Jim Mavromatis, 4th Ward Councilman Scott Dressel and 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna were at the event.

Dressel said he walked the marina and picnic area, even though he’s fished there many times.

“I just wanted to see the condition after the most recent flooding,” he said. “(There’s) so much potential. It will take a lot of time and money, but there are a couple of things we can do sooner than later, like cleaning the paint off and a new boat launch.”

Dressel credited Hahn with putting the group together, and said he talked with her as well as Mavromatis about the idea of “multiple uses along the entire site, starting with the observation deck, followed by a kayak canoe launch area, the boat launch area and dock and event space and further dockage and (a) large dock area for riverboats.”

“Funding is key,” he said.

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