Oak Harbor: State funding eyed for riverfront project

Larry Limpf

Oak Harbor officials are asking for more letters of support for a proposed development along the Portage River in the hope that the display of community support will help secure state funding for the project.
Mike Shadoan, who chairs the Oak Harbor Development Group, said more than 600 letters have been received from residents and organizations, including the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, Parks District of Ottawa County, Ottawa County Republican Women’s Club, Oak Harbor Lions Club as well as business owners and elected officials.
In August, Shadoan and Oak Harbor mayor Quinton Babcock met with State Senator Theresa Gavarone and Representative DJ Swearingen to garner support for including the project in the state’s 2020 capital budget.
Mayor Babcock said both state officials seemed impressed by the proposal.
“They immediately saw the impact this project would have on our area and its importance to our community,” he said.
The waterfront project tops a list of proposed improvements in the village that are included in the development group’s community master plan, which has been endorsed by officials of the village and Benton-Carroll-Salem School District. Planners have envisioned an ADA-accessible walkway along the river, an amphitheater, shelter house and floating docks.
Mayor Babcock said cost estimates are in the $2 million range.
“Our initial deadline to submit the letters is Dec. 1. Then the legislators will turn what their prioritized projects are into their respective chambers. That’s the first major step,” he said, adding planners have had positive feedback from the community on the proposed improvements.
“We’ve had surveys and talked to a lot of people in the community. We have a pretty good idea those are the improvements people would like to see there,” the mayor said.
Shadoan said the goal is to gather more than 1,000 support letters.
“Oak Harbor doesn’t have a lot of voters like big cities do. That’s why we need to show that everyone is on board from our entire area. I know a lot of people from Ottawa County and beyond care about this project and the biggest way we can get it done is by showing legislators we care,” he said.
Letters of support can be completed online at SupportOakHarbor.com. Questions about the project may also be submitted to the mayor. He can be reached at qbabcock@oakharbor.oh.us.


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