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Steubenville Council debates Belleview Park ballfield lights

MEETING — An exasperated Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn tried to keep council on point Tuesday during a committee hearing at Steubenville’s Belleview Park. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — If Tuesday’s recreation commitee meeting is any indication, barring a major issue 4th Ward Councilman Royal Mayo isn’t going to have the votes he’d need to scuttle the proposed lights at the Belleview Park ballfields permanently.

Mayo had moved to table a vote on the third reading of an ordinance authorizing city leaders to advertise for professional design services for the lighting project at council’s May 17 meeting, saying the price tag — $50,000 — was much too steep. Instead, he’d suggested sending it back to committee to “talk about … see if we’re actually going to get lights, the quality of lights we want to get and how much money we’re going to spend altogether before we decide to spend over $50,000 to evaluate what we need as far as lights go.”

During Tuesday’s committee meeting, Mayo made it clear he didn’t think lights were needed.

“We’ve got a lot of needs in our city,” Mayo interjected. “We’ve got $12.9 million left — I want the bridge fixed, I want the lights fixed, I want a splash pad in Beatty Park, I want the field at Murphy’s fixed because right now our kids that age are playing over in Follansbee. We have a finite amount of money so I can’t rush to spend it on lights when we’ve had Little League in Steubenville since 1951 and no official game has ever been scheduled at night in the history of Steubenville Little League. May have been some games where they turned on lights at the end of the day.”

But Parks Director Lori Fetherolf pointed out they need lights to be able to host tournaments: She said tournaments are currently scheduled in June, July and August, with 70 teams signed up in each. She said that works out to about 700 kids plus parents and grandparents at fields all over town.

Also on the horizon: fall ball, both baseball and softball; flag football, which continues to expand; and the return of church league softball.

Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn suggested it might behoove them to find an electrician or electric company “capable of doing the job,”

“I think we need lights at the ball fields,” 6th Ward Councilman Mike Hernon said. “But I’d rather put the $50,000 or $60,000 into the lights rather than the (design services).”

Hernon said it makes more sense to him to go to electrical contractors and say “we need lights: We don’t need PNC Park lights but we need lights for our ballfields at night. Have contractors bid for that project and put the money right to the light project.”

Third Ward Councilman Eric Timmons said he also “takes into account the park and recreation board’s priority list, which was lights first, the Beatty Park bridge, second. That’s what that board is there for.”

“They’re no experts on the board,” Mayo replied. “They’re not experts in designing and putting together park plans. They were appointed by the mayor — they’re popular people, they have the best interest of the community at heart, but that doesn’t qualify them as experts.”

Hahn disputed that, telling Mayo “whether you use that word” the recreation board members “have put in many years and I do value their opinion.”

“They’ve been working on long-range projects,” she said. “They know this is one-time money.”

Mayo, though, said with so little of the city’s ARPA money available for recreation, “I’m not advocating spending anything on lights when we’ve been playing baseball in Steubenville since 1951 without them.”

But Second Ward Councilman Tracy McManamon told Mayo he supports the lighting project because his constituents want the upgrade.

“From what I’ve been told by the people who talk to me in my ward, they want lights at Belleview Park,” he said.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said he’s already dispatched his chief electrical inspector to the site to evaluate conditions and what would need done.

“We don’t even have a diagram of the wiring, we don’t know the condition of the junction boxes,” he said. “We have to find out just how bad it is and go from there.”

Mavromatis said it’s a question of “weighing everything and what money we have to spend.”

In other business, council was told Burgess & Niple was selected to do the professional design services for the Beatty Park Bridge project.

Mavromatis told council business leaders and a labor union teamed up to cover the $900 needed to purchase bus passes for 20-30 middle and high school students “who struggle to come up with the funds” to pay bus fare to and from school.

“They don’t want any notoriety,” he said. “We just need to know who to make the check out to,” he said.

He also applauded Donnie’s Towing & Tire LLC owner Donnie Merritt for removing 75 tires from an illegal dump in the city, subject of numerous complaints in recent weeks.

Council heard the second reading of ordinances amending the storm water management regulations and authorizing the city manager to seek professional architectural design and cost services for the old municipal building upgrade project, and first reading of an ordinance adopting the tax budget for Fiscal Year 2023.

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