Canton Repository

June 8, 2006

Bill would send more money to Stark

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - Highway and bridge projects in Massillon and Jackson Township and a portion of the canalway path in Bethlehem Township would benefit from $2.5 million in funding in a bill passed by a House committee this week.

The federal funding would go to Stark County to help pay for bridge and intersection rehabilitation and improvements, and the purchase of land.

The city of Green in Summit County also would get $500,000 in separate funding to add property to a piece of land known as Southgate Farm, which is being developed into a recreation area.

The funds, reserved in a spending bill by Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, are not guaranteed until the legislation gets approval from the House and Senate and is signed by President Bush.

Regula, a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, sought the funding as an earmark, allowing the communities that receive it to bypass the normal competition for federal funds.

Alabama Avenue between Elton Street SW in Sugar Creek Township and Orrville Street NW in Lawrence Township would get $1 million for shoulder widening, replacement of guardrails and resurfacing. Last year, at the request of Massillon officials, Regula removed $800,000 for the project from a previous transportation bill and redirected it to rehabilitation of the Tremont Avenue Bridge in Massillon.

The current bill, which funds highways and the Department of Treasury among other federal activities, also includes $500,000 for continued work on the Tremont Avenue Bridge. The bridge got $1.2 million in federal funds last year. Another $500,000 has been reserved for widening and safety improvements to the intersection of Fulton Drive and Wales Avenue in Jackson Township. The project received $1.6 million in federal funds last year.

The bill also includes $500,000 to purchase 110 acres in Bethlehem Township for a park along the Ohio and Erie Canalway, a national heritage corridor. The park, to be developed on a former strip mine, will include paths for jogging, hiking, biking and roller skating, officials said.

Green would get $500,000 to acquire eight acres, including a former residence referred to as a lodge, to add to the 197-acre former Southgate Farm.

The city is turning the land into a nature area and plans to use the lodge as a nature education center. Regula secured $250,000 for purchase of the bulk of the property last year.