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Sanford appointed new City Manager in Conneaut

In World
April 24, 2024

Apr. 24—CONNEAUT — Nicholas Sanford was appointed to be Conneaut’s new city manager at a meeting on Monday night.

Council voted on a motion to allow Council President Terry Moisio to enter into an agreement with Sanford, and the vote was unanimous.

After the ordinance was approved, Sanford and Moisio signed the agreement.

Moisio welcomed Sanford back to Conneaut, and said Sanford is familiar with ongoing projects in the city.

“I’m sure the on-boarding won’t be as long, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running and go from there,” he said.

Sanford said Monday night was one of the most humbling moments of his life.

“I’m very honored to be in this moment right here, right now, and very honored to have my family here with me,” he said. “Thank you all very much. I’m ready to get to work.”

Sanford said Conneaut is where his story began.

“This has been the center of everything that has been near and dear to me for years,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the work of Brian Bidwell, who I have been honored to have worked with in other capacities, throughout my career, for the last 15 plus years. He’s done an outstanding job.”

Bidwell has served as interim city manager since former City Manager Jim Hockaday resigned earlier this year.

Sanford said he participated in the city’s comprehensive planning process in 2017, and filled an unexpired term on city council in 2018 and 2019. He was previously employed by CT Consultants, the county Department of Environmental Services and Aqua.

“When this opportunity arose, I talked it over with my wife, and I said, ‘This is where I want to land,'” Sanford said.

Sanford said Hockaday blazed the trail for the benefit of the community.

“I was fortunate to be on the front end of a lot of this in 2018,” he said. “And we’re starting to see the fruits of that labor, and I think it’s going to pay dividends in the years to come.”

Sanford will officially on May 6.

Moisio said Sanford is familiar with the grant funding the city has received and is pursuing, along with being an engineer, and said he is familiar with a number of the city’s comprehensive plan and a number of in-progress projects.

“Me, personally, I wanted someone who had a vested interest in this community,” he said. “This is the first city manager we have appointed that is from the city of Conneaut. All the other managers did a great job, starting with Mr. Bob Herron in the early 90s, all the way up to now. But nobody was from Conneaut.”

He thanked Bidwell for stepping up in the interim role.

The city received 30 applications, which were distributed to all of council, Moisio said.

“We were all basically on the same page on our one through six [top candidates],” Moisio said. “Now, someone’s five might have been someone else’s six, but we were all basically focusing on the same names.”

Interviews were conducted with four people, he said.

“There were some qualified individuals,” Moisio said.

People applied from across the nation, he said.

Bidwell thanked council for giving him the opportunity to serve in the interim role.

He said he loves his job as wastewater superintendent, and is happy to return to that role. He said his staff in the wastewater department is great, and has picked up the slack while he has been interim city manager.

In other business:

—In his report to council, Bidwell said the city has been awarded a $500,000, zero-percent interest loan to help pay for the Broad Street project, and the administration is currently seeking to fill the $250,000 gap with a six-percent loan from Huntington Bank. He said the hope was initially to receive the full funding amount.

Bidwell said Public Works has been grading gravel roads, and has also constructed a covered storage location for excess road salt.

Some concrete repairs are being considered at the city’s sewer plant. Bidwell said the cost could be about $30,000.

The city’s lead survey is continuing, and Bidwell encouraged anyone with questions to call 440-593-7420.

He said there have been about 200 responses so far, which is a little low.

“I know that one of the bigger questions was about, so if your house was built after 1989, there is zero chance you have a lead tap, so we are not sending survey cards to any residence built after 1989,” he said.

The city is seeking to identify any lead pipes leading into homes.

—Bidwell said the city is still waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a contract for dredging for the Conneaut Harbor.

“They do anticipate that coming soon, and we would have our first dredge cycle, likely mid-July,” he said.

A waver has been granted to allow dredging to start as early as June 15, but the start date is up to the Corps of Engineers, Bidwell said.

This will be the first dredging cycle for the new facility.

—Bidwell said about 500 tires were dumped near the Ashtabula County Metroparks location on Blakeslee Road on Friday afternoon.

He said a police report was filed, and Bidwell has been talking to the Metroparks Executive Director Brett Bellas are looking for ways to identify the culprits.

“It’s not like somebody went down there with a pickup truck, I mean, this is a significant amount of tires,” Bidwell said.

He said the city and Bellas are looking for the best way to dispose of the tires, and encouraged anyone with information regarding who may have dumped the tires to reach out to the city.

“We’re looking into it, so if anyone hears anything, let us know, to follow up,” Bidwell said.

—A clean-up day in the Conneaut Harbor will take place from 8 a.m.-noon on April 27.

“We’re going to meet in the parking lot between Charlie’s and Biscotti’s,” Bidwell said.

He said volunteers will be provided with a hot dog lunch.

The downtown cleanup will take place on May 18, with the same hours.

Bidwell said the cleanup usually starts near Marcy’s and moves down Main Street.

—Council approved a resolution to turn the water account for the public restroom maintained by the Conneaut Port Authority to a non-revenue account.

Conneaut Finance Director John Williams said the account was already a minimal user.

—Council approved an ordinance to authorize the interim city manager to negotiate a contract for brownfield remediation at the former Astatic building.

Bidwell said all three of the entities that submitted qualifications for the project met the minimum qualifications, and found that CT Consultants was the most qualified.

The city previously received a grant to pay for the remediation of the property.

The property is located at the intersection of Broad and Jackson streets, and covers two parcels covering 5.5 acres, according to Ashtabula County records. The city took ownership of the land in 2015.

Hockaday said in 2022 there had been groups interested in utilizing the property, but they could not move forward because of pollution on the site.

—Council member Chris Castrilla read an email into the record, thanking the town and its residents for providing a phenomenal place to view the eclipse. A visitor said they drove from Maryland to upstate New York, then traveled west in search of clear skies before finding Conneaut.

—Michael Kimmel was appointed to the Conneaut Board of Health to fill an unexpired term, ending on Sept. 11, 2027.

—Council member Oakey Emery said a resident on Salisbury Road expressed concerns about commercial traffic using the road.

Bidwell said he would mention it to the police chief.

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