Shared from the 2018-03-07 Sandusky Register eEdition

SANDUSKY | HEALTHY LAKE ERIE INITIATIVE

Capital bill includes money to help lake

Picture

Register photo/ERIN McLAUGHLIN

Calm Lake Erie water off the coast of Huron in late February. The state’s new capital improvements bill includes money to help end open lake dumping of dirt dredged from Ohio harbors.

SANDUSKY

The state’s new capital improvements bill includes millions of dollars to help the ongoing battle to clean up and preserve Lake Erie.

The bill includes another $10 million for the Healthy Lake Erie Initiative, a program created by a measure authored several years ago by state Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and also $75 million for the Clean Ohio Fund.

The new Healthy Lake Erie Initiative money will pay for projects to help the state meet its goal to end open lake dumping by 2020. It will include money to pay for a project in the city of Huron to provide an alternative to lake dumping, Gardner said.

He said he can’t give a dollar amount yet, but said the money will pay for engineering and design for a project in Huron to provide a good use for dredged dirt. An example of such project includes using dredged dirt to restore wetlands to create wildlife habitat.

The state’s Clean Ohio Fund has funded brownfields revitalization projects in Sandusky, according to a website at development.ohio. gov/cleanohio. It also pays for farmland preservation, green space conservation projects and the development of outdoor trails.

The Healthy Lake Erie Initiative and the Clean Ohio Fund are supported by charter boat captains, environmental groups, wildlife organizations and small businesses in Erie and Ottawa counties, said Gardner and state Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, who worked with Gardner to obtain funding for the programs.

Gardner has said he expects lawmakers to approve the $2.62 billion capital bill by the end of March.

The bill also has $800,000 for a new hospitality degree program in downtown Sandusky being launched by Cedar Fair and BGSU Firelands, $250,000 for nursing instruction by BGSU Firelands and Firelands Regional Medical Center, $125,000 for heating and cooling work at Sandusky State Theatre in downtown Sandusky, $75,000 for Sandusky’s project to renovate the Jackson Street Pier, and $50,000 to help Firelands Symphony Orchestra move to a new location on the campus of BGSU Firelands.

Although Gardner is pleased he was able to obtain funding for the two environmental programs in the new bill, he’s been less successful, at least so far, in his efforts to get Ohio leaders to back his plan for a bond issue to benefit Lake Erie’s cleanup.

“I’m still interested in it,” Gardner said. “As of now, the governor has not embraced a state bond issue. So far, the decision has been made not to proceed with a statewide bond issue his year.”

Reach reporter Tom Jackson at jackson@sanduskyregister.com and follow him on Twitter @jacksontom.

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