June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Brunswick officials lobby hard for cash

BRUNSWICK — President Barack Obama soon will receive a letter from Brunswick city officials. Gov. Ted Strickland will be hearing from them, too. And several other state and federal representatives will be receiving correspondence from city leaders as they try to secure stimulus funding.

“What I’m trying to do is twist all the arms I can possibly twist,” said At-large Councilman Pat McNamara, who chairs City Council’s Economic Development Committee.

The city submitted more than 20 projects ranging from improvements to U.S. Route 42 to the purchase of fuel-efficient buses for consideration for stimulus money earlier in the year. So far, the city hasn’t received the green light on any of the projects.

“We’re just trying so hard to figure out what we have to do to get in line,” City Manager Bob Zienkowski said. He said officials were told projects that create jobs and are ready for construction within 90 days would be given the most consideration.

But Zienkowski pointed to two projects he said follow those guidelines but haven’t garnered the attention of the Ohio Department of Development, which is rationing the state’s stimulus funds.

One is a $9 million Medina General Hospital emergency department he said would generate about 50 long-term jobs and “bring health care closer to home.” The other is a $30 million destination retail project he said would bring in about 800 full- and part-time jobs.

“We are extremely disappointed that even with some stimulus funds already being distributed, there is no noticeable improvement in creating local jobs. Unemployment continues to rise, and communities such as Brunswick grow more dubious about the promised assistance from our federal government,” Zien-kowski wrote in a draft of the letter that will be sent to Obama.

At Council’s Committee-of-the-Whole meeting Monday, the group devised a plan to get more attention for the city’s stimulus projects.

“I think we need to put together a mini-campaign in order to keep this at the forefront,” At-large Councilman Ron Falconi said.

Officials have discussed the issue via telephone with U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, and state Rep. Bill Batchelder, R-Medina. In addition to the letter to Obama, they now plan to meet via a teleconference with Strickland and organize several more meetings with representatives.

They also mentioned contacting officials in Columbus weekly to keep the issue at the forefront.

“We can sit here and talk about this or we can do something about this,” Ward 3 Councilman Joe Delsanter said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.