City Manager Andy White wants the public to get involved in designing the future of the ConAgra site.
"I really want to be sure that we get the input of our citizenry concerning what happens with the site," White said.
White spoke with March Fourth Associates, a Huron-based consulting group, regarding a proposal to set up two public forums on the ConAgra developmentproject. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources facilitated the $3.25 million purchase of the former grain-handling facility and the 19.8-acre peninsula it sat on as part of Huron's plan for riverfront development.
"This is an effort to bring the community into the discussion of the future development," he said.
March Fourth specializes in helping businesses and nonprofit organizations apply effective business concepts and achieve results. No dates have been confirmed yet for the proposed forums, but city council members like the idea of getting residents involved.
"I think this is the right direction as we move forward to getting the project completed," Mayor Terry E. Graham Sr. said.
Another priority weighing on White's mind is how to cut costs in the city to keep a balanced budget. He has come up with a few ways to trim costs through energy-saving initiatives.
White told council he plans to save the city money by upgrading the lighting fixtures in City Hall. He said the move will reduce expenditures on utilities and pay for itself within a four-year period.
"The implementation of newer, more efficient technology will yield substantial savings that will pay for the cost of the project over the next four years," he explained. "The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately $40,000 to cover professional services, construction and implementation of the new hardware."
Getting back a good return is what makes the proposal a positive one, White noted.
"The projected annual savings is $9,100, yielding complete repayment in just four years, after which the savings can be allocated toward other programming," he said.
A company called Wilkes/EPS Limited from Huron submitted a proposal to do the project. Council voted to pursue the proposed project at a recent meeting.
In another cost-cutting move, White requested proposals from various companies to provide service to the city building's heating and air-conditioning service.
He said the city building has several heating and cooling units that need inspection and servicing. The current contract with Toledo Trane provides for bi-annual inspection service, but any time a situation arises requiring professional attention, the city must pay overtime, drive time and mileage from the Toledo area.
Wilkes/EPS also made a proposal to do the HVAC work and White said it was the best.
"Being local will reduce our overall costs and provide business for a local company," he said.
Council also approved the move and agreed to pursue it further. Graham said the cost-cutting moves by White should be applauded.