Piqua Commission receives update on search to fill spaces at the Fort Piqua Plaza

PIQUA — On Tuesday, Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing gave an update on the Fort Piqua Plaza Center Committee’s search to find new restaurants for the open spaces at the Fort Piqua Plaza, including a potential, unnamed deli.

“We were able to convene the group last week,” Schmiesing said during the Piqua City Commission meeting.

He said the committee had a good discussion about the history of the Fort Piqua Plaza and what the plaza spaces ought to be during their two-hour meeting. Members of the committee included residents from each ward in Piqua.

“We were able to review the proposal we had put together,” Schmiesing said, adding they discussed the process of how they solicit proposals for the restaurant spaces. He added there was some extra difficulty soliciting restaurants due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and state restrictions on restaurants.

“It’s obviously not the best time to be talking about trying to recruit a restaurant,” Schmiesing said.

He said the city has received seven inquiries for the open spaces at the Fort Piqua Plaza, three of which were specific to the deli/cafe space and the others in regard to the restaurant space. The deli/cafe space inquiry produced one interested party, for which the city may bring a lease agreement forward to the commission in September.

“There was consensus among the group that they would be a good fit,” Schmiesing said. “We’re still working through the due diligence with that entity.”

He said the business would be operating a deli, selling sandwiches, salads, local produce, and other specialized products.

“It looks very positive,” Schmiesing said. “It’s an existing entrepreneur in the community.”

Schmiesing said he was holding back naming business until there was a lease the business was ready to execute.

For the larger restaurant space, Schmiesing said the committee was unanimous that they needed to continue the search. Some of the inquiries had changed their position and others were holding off until the governor’s office walked back some of its restrictions on restaurants.

“It’s really hard to know at this point,” Schmiesing said.

Earlier in the meeting, the commission held a joint meeting with the Washington Township Trustees regarding the sale of property from Forest Hill Cemetery. They approved selling approximately one acre of land to purchasers Rebecca Gambill and Blake Curtis for a price of $52,000. According to the resolution, the property is not used nor will it be needed for cemetery purposes. According to the Washington Township Trustees, these proceeds will be used for starting construction of the cemetery’s new maintenance building.

Following that, Mayor Kris Lee issued a proclamation honoring Kenneth Cornell Thorpe, a Troy resident and former Piqua athlete from the 1950s who recently passed away on July 3, 2020, establishing Tuesday, Aug. 18, as Kenneth Cornell Thorpe Day.

In his proclamation, Lee said Thorpe overcame the loss of his mother at a young age, as well as other health challenges, to become a standout athlete at Piqua City Schools.

“Kenneth stood strong and turned challenges into determination,” Lee said.

At Piqua Central High School, he excelled at football and track, being named an All-American Team and Most Valuable Player in both sports, and he was also inducted into the Piqua Indians Hall of Fame. He later graduated in 1952, married his wife, Sally, and served in the U.S. Army. He also retired from the Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

“He was a wonderful example of what an athlete and honorable man this city can produce,” Lee said. “We just wanted to have a proclamation for his life as he is now passed.”

The commission then issued a resolution of appreciation for the public service of Jonathan A. Stevens, assistant fire chief at the Piqua Fire Department, who has worked for the city for 33 years.

The commission also issued a resolution of appreciation for the public service of Candace L. Etter, an account clerk in the Finance Department, who has been with the city for 32 years.

Next, the commission approved a resolution authorizing a purchase order to Cargill, Incorporated for the purchase of road salt for the Public Works Department. The cost will be $48.32 per ton.

The commission then approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to submit an application to the Ohio Department of Transportation-Office of Aviation for funding under the Ohio Airport Grant Program for fiscal year 2021. The city is requesting a grant of $500,000 for a rehabilitation project of the airfield lighting system at the Piqua Airport-Hartzell Field.

The commission then authorized the Wastewater Treatment Plant to continue with Republic Services for the city’s disposal of certain wastewater biosolids. The cost is not to exceed $100,000.

The commission then approved a resolution repealing resolution R-46-20, which authorized the sale of city-owned real estate located at 439 S. Main Street, and replacing it with a new resolution that still authorizes the sale but it corrects a clerical error.

The commission also authorized a zoning map change for parcel N44-095820, rezoning it from open space to one-family residential. The parcel is approximately 4.27 acres located on the 1000 block of Manier Avenue near Gordon Street.

Next on the agenda, the commission approved entering into an agreement with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. for the alternative feasibility study and preliminary design of the Piqua Water Supply Lakes System. The cost is not to exceed $624,000. The city has been awarded a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant and an Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) High Hazard Potential Dam Grant to assist with this project. The breakdown of funds includes: $171,500 from FEMA; $241,287 from ODNR; and $211,213 from the Water Department funds, the latter of which includes a 10 percent contingency.

The commission then approved a resolution to levy assessments to pay for the cost of nuisance abatements. The city is seeking a total reimbursement of $36,410.

During public comment, residents wrote in concerns about rumors regarding a potential gas station locating near their homes in the area of High Street and Sunset Drive. The residents expressed concerns about gas emissions, crime rate, noise, light pollution, and property values. One resident noted the previous business at that location closed at night.

City Manager Gary Huff said the Development Department had received an earlier inquiry about an auto fuel station for the High and Sunset location, but he said that “no permit applications have been received.” The property is currently zoned for general business, which would allow for an auto fuel station and convenience store. There would be parking, landscaping, and setback requirements, he said.

“I think there’s some speculation,” Huff said. “We don’t have anything at this point.”