Green council approves capital projects budget

Brian Lisik
Suburbanite correspondent

GREEN  Green City Council approved the city’s $9.5 million 2021 capital projects budget during its Jan. 12 regular council meeting.

Prior to its approval, Councilwoman Barbara Babbitt introduced an amendment to the budget removing a $540,000 appropriation from the originally proposed $10 million budget.

The appropriation called for a portion of the city’s Nexus pipeline settlement fund to be used to construct Willowdale Trail. The trail would be used as an escape route for residents on Thursby and Koons roads in the event of a pipeline related emergency.

Babbitt questioned both the amount appropriated for the project from the Nexus settlement fund and whether Willowdale Trail was an appropriate use of those funds.

“It can come back to Council for approval as a separate item,” Babbitt said. “If it is not part of this budget, it does not mean it’s gone from our plans entirely.”

Councilman Anthony DeVitis called the trail “counterintuitive” and suggested that it could draw people to the area of the pipeline. DeVitis said there could be more appropriate uses for the pipeline funds in the future and that the city should take a more conservative approach to spending it.

Parks and Recreation Board and Pipeline Settlement Fund Advisory Committee member Rod Moore told Council members that the Parks and Rec Board was in support of the trail, but opposed to a proposal to partially use parks funds to build it, due to its planned proximity to Boettler Park.

More help for CAK

Council approved an agreement with the Akron-Canton Airport Authority to assist with its Jobs Ohio Commercial Air Service Restoration Program to restore air service to the airport in response to routes lost due to COVID-19.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said this $50,000 investment, part of a $500,000 regional effort, will go toward start-up costs related to securing a new airline to replace, or add to, routes lost with Delta Airlines departure from CAK in 2020.

The city had previously pledged $50,000 to an effort by CAK to convince Delta to return to the airport and bring back its Atlanta route. That effort stalled last year when Delta announced it was permanently foregoing the Atlanta route from CAK and consolidating its Northeast Ohio operations to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

CAK President and Chief Executive Officer Ren Camacho said the airport is currently operating at 25 percent of pre-pandemic traffic.