Mantua considers downtown improvements and a ‘calling while driving’ ban

A section of Mantua’s historic Main Street commercial district will soon be officially “blighted.”

Under new legislation the village council is considering, a section of the downtown would receive the designation and become eligible for Ohio’s Target of Opportunity Grant Programs. Property owners could unlock funding to repair and rehabilitate their buildings.

“The buildings located at the northeast corner of Main and Prospect streets suffer from the effects of deterioration, dilapidation, age, and obsolescence,” according to the legislation. The area also encompasses land vacant “due to previous fire and other hazards that endanger life or properties.”

At least 70% of the properties in the area are affected, the legislation states.

The legislation notes that the area is important to the community because of its central and highly visible location in Mantua. There are significant local businesses in the area, which has been included on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

Property owners would need to come up with matching funds, Mayor Linda Clark said. The property owners will also apply for funding for a parking area, creating more than 50 parking spaces behind the businesses, she said.

No calling while driving?

It’s already illegal to text or read a cell phone while driving in Mantua. Now council is considering tightening the village’s distracted driving code to include making or receiving phone calls on a mobile device. 

The proposed legislation council is considering does not state what the consequences of noncompliance would be. Police Chief Joseph Urso told council members that his officers are seeing too many people holding their cell phones in their hands while they are driving through the village.

2022 budget details

Council is also considering the village’s 2022 budget. The budget includes $585,918 for the police department, about even with 2021 costs. It includes $5,000 for the cemetery, exactly what was appropriated this year. Parks get a decrease, with $41,225 for the parks budgeted for 2022, down $7,525 from this year.

There is $76,150 allocated for the village administrator, down $26,550 from 2021, and $22,650 for tree care, down $11,050 from this year. The budget set administrator expenses (for mayor and council) at $32,530, down $3,770 from this year. The clerk/treasurer’s compensation package is at $64,373, up from $1,423 allocated for 2021.

Village Hall expenses are set at $18,755 for 2022, down $1,495 from this year. Fees for legal services are anticipated at $41,150, up $2,325 from this year.

A public hearing is set for 6:15 p.m. June 15, with council’s regular meeting to follow.

Ribs and racing

The village is eying June 19 for a Rib Burn-Off and soap box derby. The derby will include stock, super stock and masters divisions, and will be held at Buchert Park. The cost is $35 per entry. Contact Dan Smutny at dsmutny@sbcglobal.net or call 330-518-9981 for more information. The derby rain date is the next day, June 20.

Ten downtown food vendors are expected to participate in the Rib Burn-Off. Mayor Clark expects to have more information next month.

Trash collector wanted

The Village of Mantua will seek bids for residential curbside rubbish and recycling services. The village’s current contract expires Dec. 31. Companies must be willing to provide weekly trash collection and bi-weekly residential curbside recycling services, as well as opt-in commercial rubbish and recycling collection. 

Council expects to close the bidding process in May and to select a rubbish and recycling hauler next fall. The winning bidder will receive a five-year contract, with rates adjusted on a yearly basis.

Time capsule repairs

Council has been debating what to do about the deteriorating brick time capsule at Mantua Village Park. They’ve opted to spend $5,200 to reinforce and wrap the area, cover it with a cultured stone veneer and install new capstones.

Buchert Park asphalt trail

Village Engineer Gene Arters reports that construction of the asphalt trail at Buchert Park is complete, and that the village received a $65,250 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for recreational trails. Village leaders intend to use the funds to build an asphalt trail around the the park on the north side of High Street. Mayor Clark noted that the city has received a second grant for about $2,500 to carry out the project.

Arters also reports that construction continues on Prospect Street, where new storm sewers have been installed. New curbing is next on the to-do list.

Cuyahoga River bridge work

Clark noted that she received an email from the Ohio Department of Transportation stating that repairs are planned for the Cuyahoga River bridge. There were no further details, and work is expected to begin next year.

Cinco de Mayo Walk/Run

Council approved Advanced Rehabilitation & Health Specialists’ bid for a two-mile Cinco de Mayo Walk/Run, set for May 5 along the Headwaters Trail. There will be a rolling start from 5:30-6:30 pm. Registration is $20. Visit www.arhs.us or call 330-274-2747 for more information.