April 19, 2014

Medina
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County gets more money

MEDINA — The state will pour an additional $38.69 million of Recovery Zone Bonds into Medina County.
That means there will be about $59 million available in low-interest, federal stimulus bonds to spur development in the county.

County commissioners already allocated approximately $20 million worth of bonds earlier this year.

“Certainly it allows funding for some projects that may not have gone forward without this program being available. And certainly we’re excited about these projects going forward,” Commissioner Sharon Ray said Tuesday.

Projects

The bonds announced late Monday include $29 million for the Chippewa Landing hotel and resort project in Lafayette Township and an additional $9.69 million for a fiber-optic loop project spearheaded by the Medina County Port Authority.

Gary Sills, managing partner for the group pursuing the Chippewa project, said the bonds give the project the boost it needed to get off the ground.

“This does mean the project’s a go,” he said. “It’s good news. It’s what we were waiting for.”

According to the Recovery Zone Bond applications, the $37.3 million Chippewa Landing project will involve constructing a hotel, resort and club on the site of the former Chippewa Lake Amusement Park. The project would create 189 jobs after three years. Sills said he hopes to break ground sometime this summer.

Bethany Dentler, administrator for the Medina County Port Authority, said the low-interest bonds will mean significant savings for the fiber optic project.

“We’re going to be recalculating some of the financial documents so that we’ll know sort of exactly what the savings are going to be,” she said.

The project involves building a 151-mile, 144-strand fiber-optic loop in the county that would connect with existing fiber networks in Cuyahoga and Summit counties. It would create high-bandwidth connectivity for institutional groups, such as government entities, libraries, schools, businesses and hospitals.

Construction alone is estimated to cost $7.3 million.

Dentler said the Port Authority still would need the county to provide a credit enhancement for the project. The county and the Port Authority have been talking with officials from the county’s cities and villages and asking them to participate in the financial guarantee.

The Port Authority has requested the county back the bonds it will issue for the countywide project. The request stipulates the county would replenish a bond reserve fund for the project if it dips below a certain amount.

“Once that happens, we’ll be able to move very quickly and finish the bond issuance project,” Dentler said. She said the Port Authority also hopes to begin the project sometime this summer.

Bonds

Last year, Ohio received about $1 billion of the $26 billion in Recovery Zone Bonds created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bonds were divided among the state’s counties and larger cities. Medina County was given $22 million to distribute.

In January, the county allocated $16 million to a Brunswick retail development project planned by Osborne Capital Group. It also allocated $4.2 million to the Port Authority’s fiber-optic project.

Any money not distributed by counties, which amounted to about $132 million, went back to the state for the Ohio Department of Development to allocate. Counties had the opportunity to request that their unallocated money go to a certain project. For example, Medina County did not distribute $1.8 million of its bonds and asked the state to give it to Summit County to redevelop Goodyear’s headquarters in Akron.

Three nearby counties had requested some of their unallocated money go to the Chippewa Landing project. Richland allocated $3.1 million, Lorain allocated

$15.5 million and Ashtabula allocated $10.4 million. The state affirmed those requests Monday.

Developers also had the opportunity to apply for some of the unallocated bonds even if they didn’t have backing from another county. The Port Authority asked for $9.6 million in additional bonds and received all of it.

Dentler said she thinks the state was looking to support fiber projects throughout Ohio.

“This hit one of the sweet spots that they want to support,” she said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.