Midtown lot will be paved this year

Over $90,000 raised from a street opening fee, coupled with $100,000 from the City of Warren’s general fund, will be used to pave the Midtown Parking Lot later this year.

Representatives from Columbia Gas approached Warren City Council on Monday for permission to install a four-inch line through the lot for customers on the east side of Liberty Street.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said city staff met with Columbia on site to discuss the project, which has received the blessing of the city’s administration.

Utility company representatives ensured council that the work would not approach the gates of the lot, would take about two weeks to complete and is needed to move their gas meters from the basements of the buildings to the backs of the buildings.

One lane of traffic through the lot will be maintained throughout the duration of the work. “There’s a wide enough spot they will keep one lane open at a time,” City Engineer Douglas Sceiford said. “After hours, (the holes) will be plated.”

Staff from Columbia Gas said that, with council approval, the company will apply for permits. Once the permits are received, a start date can be narrowed down. June or July is when they expect work to begin.

Council approved the request unanimously.

To cut the lot open, Columbia Gas will be required to pay a street opening fee, which will exceed $90,000.

That’s where paving the whole lot comes in.

“Over the last few years (we have) discussed the need for repair,” Holtz said. That fee “will pay half the cost to resurface the lot.” He asked if council would consider using $100,000 from the general fund to completely resurface the lot.

“Sounds like a good idea as long as we can make the general fund whole,” Councilman Sam Harvey said.

Holtz said funding from the city’s liquid fuels allocation, traditionally utilized for paving and milling projects, can be moved to the general fund to offset the expenditure.

The paving project will likely not commence immediately after Columbia completes its work.

“I envision paving it in August,” Holtz said.

“The timing there just isn’t going to be right,” Sceiford said. “If we bid it, we’re not going to be in a position to know what their schedule is.”

Holtz said the paving could be completed in three days. He advocated a delay between the two projects. “We’re always so quick to blacktop,” he said. “(I) always think it’s nice to leave it go” to allow the area to sink and settle.

The street opening fee, in part, is intended to pay for the restoration of the area that is cut.

Sceiford said that Columbia’s repairs are “not intended to be a permanent restoration. They will fill it with gravel. There won’t be temporary paving in their cuts.”

Council approved the use of funds to pave the entire lot.

“(We’re) going to go out for bid in the next month or so to overlay the Midtown Lot using those two funds,” Holtz said.