The Friends of the Mahoning River thank Girard Mayor Melfi, City Council, the Girard Zoning Dept., and George Zokle of CT Consultants for the city’s willingness to expend the time and money that was/will be needed to submit the application and complete the historic project for the city.
Members of the Friends of the Mahoning River who were most helpful in the application process were the Board members, Sara and Tom Smith of Girard, Joel Beeghly, Don Rex and Chuck Miller.
In February, 2014, a Youngstown Vindicator writer published the first indication to the public that the Friends of the Mahoning River had approache4d Mayor James J. Melfi of Girard to consider developing a canoe/kayak boat dock on property the City owns on the banks of the Mahoning River.
One of our members, Joel Beeghley, had noticed a grant offered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This was a 100% reimbursable grant available to political subdivisions and agencies of the State or federal government. One of the main requirements was that the applying agency had to be capable of financing and maintaining the project as a public access facility for a minimum of 25 years.
The Friends of the Mahoning River had a great interest in the project. Don Rex, Tom and Sara Smith volunteered to meet with Mayor Melfi to explain the main features of the grant. Combined with the knowledge that the Trumbull Canoe Trails Club had in their membership, Friends felt that a presentation to the Mayor would receive a favorable response. Mayor Melfi was enthusiastic about using land that FEMA had granted to the city that was a floodplain south of the Girard viaduct. Because of the land being in a floodplain, there was little else that could be placed there.
Mayor Melfi presented the idea to City Council in February. Earlier that year, Don, Tom, Sara and Patricia Dunbar had each given a speech to the members of Council who would be deciding and recommending that the City pursue the Grant. The four introduced themselves and informed the City representatives that FOMR as a group represented and expressed the cooperation that would be given.
An interesting aspect of that day was that 25 years earlier, on that exact date, the then Mayor Kenny Woodford and Don Rex, who was a councilman at the time, had presented a motion to create a launch site on the River in Girard at a location just above the dam. The state objected to that site due to the location being too close to the dam.
A summary of the details that consisted in this grant were explained and questions answered to City Council. Plans began to add this additional recreational area in Girard. The bid was then prepared by George Zockle of CT Consultants, Inc. in cooperation with the Friends of the Mahoning River. Important information regarding the construction of the canoe/kayak launch was given by Chuck Miller, a member of the Trumbull Canoe Trails Club and FOMR.
This bid was sent to Columbus by April 1, 2014, which was the due date of the grant. The final figure was $68,855 which included a dock, a ramp, parking for 15 vehicles, and a turn-around area for loading/unloading. Two streets, Front Street and River Street, would be extended to provide a safe entrance and exit. Three lawn areas were designed as part of the project so that future grants could be used to provide concrete picnic tables and benches.
In mid December, 2014, George Zockle notified Mayor James J. Melfi that our grant requests was approved and fully funded.