LORAIN PORT AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NOVAK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Thomas Brown selected to succeed Richard Novak in March 2017
LORAIN, OH—December 20, 2016—Richard Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority announced his retirement to occur on March 1, 2017 after 30 years of service. The announcement was made during the proceedings of a special meeting at 7 p.m. at the Ferry Terminal Building, located at 319 Black River Lane.
Board Chairman Carl Nielsen recognized Mr. Novak for his commitment to the Lorain Port Authority and his many accomplishments including:
· Development of a 600-slip marina on the lakefront · Conversion of a 25-acre former rail storage yard to a $6.95 million multi-modal transportation center and festival grounds site, Black River Landing
· Renovation of the mile-long pier on Lorain’s lakefront
· Negotiation of expansion of the Jet Express operations into Lorain
· Establishment of the nature and lighthouse tour programs
· Implementation of various economic development incentive programs such as the Brownfield Redevelopment
· Implementation of strategic plans for growth and sustainability
· Instrumental in bringing the Rockin’ on the River summer concert series to Lorain.
· Played a pivotal role in bringing Roverfest to the community.
The board met in executive session and voted for long-time Lorain resident Thomas Brown to succeed Mr. Novak. The transfer of the executive directorship will occur on March 1. Mr. Novak will be working with Mr. Brown and the board for a smooth transition during January and February.
Mr. Brown is currently the fire chief with 28 years of service with the Lorain Fire Department. His background also includes six years with the Ohio Army National Guard where he attained the rank of sergeant.
In addition to his leadership roles on the executive board for the Local #267 Lorain Professional Firefighters, Mr. Brown has 15 years of service with the Lorain Port Authority board of directors. His previous positions encompass vice chairman, chairman and numerous committee responsibilities. Mr. Brown assisted in the successful projects with the Black River Landing, mile-long pier renovation, the Jet Express, Lorain’s Tour Boats and the Rockin’ on the River Concert Series.
Mr. Brown has served on the Lorain Zoning Commission and was the chair on the Lorain Demolition Board of Appeals.
According to Chairman Nielsen, “I can think of no one more qualified or committed to the city of Lorain and the Lorain Port Authority than Tom Brown. He has managed 85 firefighters who have the upmost respect for him while handling budgets exceeding $8.5 million during challenging budget seasons. I have seen him work tirelessly on helping our community with multiple city of Lorain levy campaigns including the Lorain Port levy and most recently the Lorain Fire levy.”
“Tom’s appointment means a seamless transition with his experience and understanding of current projects: the Camaco and Clover initiatives and the redevelopment of the Broadway Building. We are delighted that we will not lose time with Tom being able to add value on day one with his insights on these objectives and others.”
About The Lorain Port Authority
The mission of the Lorain Port Authority is to promote waterborne commerce, to provide economic development opportunities within the city of Lorain, and to enhance public access to our waterways. Since 2010, the Lorain Port Authority has financed $19 million in projects and assisted companies like Republic Steel and Ohio Edison through economic programs. The Lorain Port Authority also encourages water exploration and appreciation as it manages river tours, sunset cruises, lighthouse tours and Jet Express specialty cruises. The Lorain Port Authority provides vital services that improve the local economy and quality of life in Lorain, Ohio.
By Kelsey Leyva, The Morning Journal
Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority, discusses the 2016 Rockin’ on the River summer lineup March 4 during the monthly breakfast meeting of the Lorain Growth Corp.’s Downtown Consortium at the Lorain Palace Theatre. Jim Long, president of the Lorain Growth Corporation, in the background.Eric Bonzar —The Morning Journal
Transforming downtown Lorain into a recreation hub is underway and representatives from local organizations driving the movement shared plans and ideas on how to continue the momentum.
Jim Long, president of the Lorain Growth Corporation, and Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority, spoke March 4 at the monthly breakfast meeting of the Lorain Growth Corporation’s Downtown Consortium at the Lorain Palace Theatre.
The men discussed projects going on downtown as well as events scheduled this summer.
Long talked about the street scape project that recently started downtown with the installation of the new water lines from 10th Street through West Erie Avenue.
Due to budget constraints, Long said the project will be completed in phases and work is expected to continue into 2017.
The plans for the revamped downtown calls for repaving, wider sidewalks, new street lights, new traffic controls, parking signs, cameras and a two-lane highway.
When complete, Long said the project is anticipated to cost more than $2 million.
With an updated downtown, Long and Novak both hope it will attract business owners to set up shop in one of the vacant buildings on Broadway.
Long said interest has definitely increased recently, but not as quickly as he would like.
“The longer period of time they sit vacant and aren’t kept up to date, the more of an investment someone has to make and that’s not an attraction,” he said, adding that there’s so much potential for the downtown district.”I think this year is the beginning of a new beginning for Lorain.”
Novak shared the same sentiments and discussed a program available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2011, the Port Authority applied for and received a $400,000 grant to be used for the assessment of brownfields in Lorain.
According to the U.S. EPA, a brownfield is the “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contamination.”
The Port Authority plans to use the money to access the brownfields and complete studies on them so they can be cleaned up for new business to grow, Novak said.
He also was eager to discuss the expanded lineup of this year’s Rockin’ on the River summer weekly concert series. Bob Earley is the promoter of Rockin’ on the River.
Novak said the 2016 schedule includes 20 performances by bands such as Wish You Were Here, a Pink Floyd tribute band, and Who’s Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute band. The goal is to find acts that will transcend across all generations, he said.
“It’s created a lot of energy in the community,” Novak said, adding that he’s noticed a revitalized sense of pride in Lorain residents. “We have a lot of good things that are happening here.”
Other activities planned around Black River Landing this summer include kayak rentals and nature tours. Novak said the Port Authority is continuing to work with Jet Express and will explore the possibility of a water taxi if the need presents itself.
Novak also expects the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour coming to Lorain in June will be a big boost for the local economy. He predicts this year will generate about $750,000 for Lorain County businesses and if next year expands as he expects, the tournament could bring in $2 million to the region.
“We need to continue working together,” he said. “We’re coming back, and I think it’s going to come back stronger because of the opportunities we have.”
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal POSTED: 02/09/16, 9:30 PM EST
Metro Creative Connection Planning has started for the walleye tournament that will arrive in Lorain this spring. Organizers of the Cabela’s Masters Walley Circuit tournament have visited Lorain twice to begin working on logistics of staging the fishing contest in Lorain. “Understand, this is a big issue for all of us because we want this to come across very well,” said Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority. He spoke about the tournament as part of the Port’s regular board meeting on Feb. 9. The Cabela’s tournament is scheduled for June 3 and 4, which also will be the opening weekend for the Rockin’ on the River weekly concert series at Black River Landing. Concert organizer Bob Earley has been involved with the planning, Novak said.
The tournament could bring 80 to 100 participants and have an officials start with dinner and rule meeting on June 2. It could have economic benefit totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars “because when the folks come in, they’re here a week ahead of time,” Novak said. The participants use local sources of food, gas, lodging and entertainment, he said. If the event goes well, Lorain could be in the running for a national tournament in 2017 – an even larger event that could draw up to 200 to 300 vessels, Novak said.
The Port board took no formal action but Novak notified them the tournament likely will use the Port building on Black River Lane, along with areas of Black River Landing and the Black River Wharf boat ramps off 14th Street. The Port also has some potential sponsors and is seeking more partners to contribute toward the $5,000 local cost to stage the tournament in Lorain. Anyone interested should call the Port office at 440-204-2269.
After Memorial Day, the events likely will mark the start of the summer season for Lorain – and might be fertile ground or waters for another “people attractor.” Lorain has developed an impressive number of festivals, “but there needs to be more,” said Ron Nabakowski, downtown supporter and publisher of the “Waterfront Arts & Entertainment District Intelligencer” online newsletter. “An excellent opportunity lies in the possibility of a festival to be run concurrently with the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit,” Nabakowski said in his most recent newsletter. He pitched a new “Waterfront WalleyeFest” to join the roster of downtown summer events. It was unclear who could plan the event, but Nabakowski called for suggestions from his readers on creating the event.
Release Date: 09/22/2015Contact Information: Peter Cassell, 312-859-9614 (cell), email@example.com Francisco Arcaute 312-886-7613 312-898-2042 Cell firstname.lastname@example.orgFor Immediate Release No. 14-OPA151LORAIN,OH (Sept. 22, 2015) – U.S Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman today announced a $15 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant – the largest single GLRI grant awarded to date by EPA – to the city of Lorain for restoration work in the Black River Area of Concern on Lake Erie. The Black River AOC is on the binational list of toxic hotspots that have been targeted for cleanup under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Mayor Chase Ritenauer joined Hedman at Black River Landing to highlight the projects that will be funded by this GLRI grant.
“This new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will accelerate restoration work needed to protect Lake Erie and to clean up the Black River Area of Concern,” Hedman said. “This work will reduce threats to public health and restore native habitat along the Black River.”
“This generous award will help Lorain and the surrounding communities write the final chapter of the Black River’s extraordinary recovery,” U.S. Rep. Kaptur said. “Lorain is working hard and taking great steps to renew its riverfront and lakefront as essential elements to build toward a vibrant future. Once successful, this transformative effort will prove that, through collaboration and stewardship, we can pull our precious freshwater resources back from the brink and restore them to health. The Black River is not only an important natural resource and fresh water habitat, it is also critical to the economic revitalization of the City of Lorain. This kind of ecological and economic transformation is something I have fought for over the course of many years. It is also central to the mission of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which I have long supported. Each piece of the ecological puzzle that we restore brings us that much closer to reestablishing the natural systems that have kept Northern Ohio’s water safe and her ecosystems healthy for millennia. Thank you to U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman, Cam Davis with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the city of Lorain, and everyone involved for making this important announcement possible.”
“In Ohio, we’ve seen the impact that threats to Lake Erie have on our economy, water supply, and wildlife populations,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to our efforts to improve the health of our Great Lakes. This funding will allow Lorain to improve the quality of the Black River and protect Lake Erie.”
“This is welcome news for the city of Lorain as it will support continued efforts to improve and protect the environmental integrity of the Black River while ensuring this area can remain a popular tourist attraction,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman stated. “This is about the revitalization of downtown Lorain and ecological restoration and I am pleased with today’s announcement.”
Over the next two years, the city of Lorain will remove 24 acres of contaminated sediment from the Black River floodplain and create in-stream habitat for native fish and other aquatic species. In addition, more than 500,000 cubic yards of steel mill byproducts will be removed from the river’s floodplain. Since 2010, GLRI funding totaling $23 million – including approximately $16 million from EPA – has been awarded for restoration projects in the Black River AOC.
“The city of Lorain is thrilled to accept these funds to complete several projects critical to the restoration of water quality and biological integrity within the Black River,” Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said. “We see the restoration and protection of our water resources as a critical mission and are pleased to be working cooperatively with several agencies to achieve this important goal. The City wishes to thank the U.S. EPA Region 5, Great Lakes National Program Office, the Ohio EPA, and the Black River Area of Concern Advisory Committee for their partnership and support, without which the development and implementation of these restoration initiatives would not be possible. We look forward to the successful completion of these projects and the many benefits that will be achieved.”
“Today we can witness the importance of having an effective plan for Lorain’s waterfront and celebrate new GLRI funding to restore the Black River’s confluence with Lake Erie,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Since then, three U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern have been cleaned up and taken off the bi-national list of Areas of Concern: the Presque Isle Bay AOC (on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania), the Deer Lake AOC (on Lake Superior in Michigan) and the White Lake AOC (on Lake Michigan in Michigan). Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding has also been used to complete all necessary restoration actions at three additional Areas of Concern: the Waukegan Harbor AOC (on Lake Michigan in Illinois), the Sheboygan River AOC (on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin) and the Ashtabula River AOC (on Lake Erie in Ohio). Environmental monitoring is ongoing at those AOCs to assess their eligibility for delisting. GLRI funding is also being used to accelerate cleanup work in all remaining Areas of Concern on the U.S. side of the border.
For more information about the GLRI, visit http://www.glri.us/.
Eric Bonzar / email@example.com
An estimated 15,000 people from across the Rover’s Morning Glory listening area and beyond came to Black River Landing in Lorain on July 26, 2014, to party alongside platinum recording artists and Grammy award-winners in what was described as the “Super Bowl” of the radio show’s year. The show is returning to Black River Landing on July 18, 2015.
By Staff report, The Morning Journal
POSTED: 07/06/15, 6:06 PM EDT
The Lorain Port Authority has approved a contract to stage the RoverFest part at Black River Landing.
The Port board held a special meeting July 6 to approve the contract, said board President Carl Nielsen.
The Port board was scheduled to consider the contract as part of its regular meeting July 14. However, that date did not allow enough time for Cleveland radio host Shane “Rover” French to conclude his legal and financial arrangements to stage the show, Nielsen said.
This is the second year in Lorain that Rover has hosted what he bills as the biggest party of the summer.
This year, the Port will collect a $7,000 dollar facility rental fee for use of its Black River Landing festival site in downtown Lorain. That figure is up from the $5,200 fee last year.
The Port and Rover also have an agreement in principle to rent the facility for $6,500 if RoverFest returns in 2016.
Contract details were discussed by Brad Mullins, chairman of the board’s contract negotiations committee, and Yvonne Smith, accountant and acting executive director for the Lorain Port Authority, as part of the Port’s regular meeting in June.
The lower price for 2016 was to be an incentive for Rover to return to the city for a third year, Mullins said July 6.
“He’s very complimentary about Lorain, so we’re thankful for that,” Mullins said.
RoverFest 2014 also attracted attention to the city, including that of promoter Bob Earley, who brought the Rockin’ on the River weekly concert series to Lorain, Mullins said.
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Tributes to bands ranging from the Beach Boys to KISS will play at Black River Landing this summer as part of the Rockin’ on the River concert series.
The Rockin’ on the River concert series ran 28 years in Cuyahoga Falls, but will make its debut in Lorain this year. On March 3, Event Chairman Bob Earley published the season schedule that lists 17 weekly shows from Friday, May 22, to Friday, Aug. 28, at the Lorain Port Authority’s festival site.
Tribute bands will play the music of rock n’ roll and country greats including the Eagles, Metallica, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Heart, Pink Floyd, Journey, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, Bad Company and more.
The concert series will have back-to-back shows June 12 and 13, July 3 and 4, July 10 and 11 and July 17 and 18.
Each show will feature at least two bands, and most shows will have admission of $5. A discounted season pass will be sold soon for $65, according to the website.
“The city of Lorain and the Port Authority have provided the most beautiful site right on the river for all to enjoy and we invite you to join us,” Earley said on rockinontheriver.com.
Shows will have gates opening at 5:30 p.m. and run until 11 p.m. rain or shine. There will be free parking and designated motorcycle parking.
Events also will have at least 20 sponsors, including Lorain County mainstays CenturyLink, Lorain County Community College, Lake Erie Harley-Davidson, Heidelberg Distributing Co., Mercy, Spitzer Marinas, Fairfield Inn & Suites of Avon and WOBL Gold Country 1320 AM and Kool Kat Oldies 1380 AM. Cleveland Scene and classic rock station 98.5 WNCX also will be regional media sponsors listed at rockinontheriver.com.
The event schedule includes:
Rockin’ on the River also will help promote the Ohio Dream Night talent search and show to be held Sept. 18 and 19 at the Lorain Palace Theater. The Ohio Dream Night originally was to be held March 20 and 21 but was postponed due to scheduling conflicts.
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
State grants of $35,000 will help pay for the marine patrols in Lorain and Vermilion in summer 2015.
Both communities received the maximum amount of marine patrol grants through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for this year. It appeared 2015 is the first time the neighboring communities both received the $35,000 maximum allowed through ODNR.
The money comes as part of $575,745 the state will dedicate for marine patrols in 23 jurisdictions this year. The state money comes from the Ohio Waterways Safety Fund, which gets revenues from motor fuel taxes, boat registration and titling fees and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Lorain Marine Patrol for years has been one of the county’s most efficient and cost-effective law enforcement programs, said Yvonne Smith, accountant for the Lorain Port Authority and coordinator for the Lorain Marine Patrol’s grant and budget.
“The state will even tell you that the Lorain Marine Patrol gives them the best bang for their buck,” Smith said.
“They’re doing a fabulous job and just trying to keep everybody safe,” she said. “I am extremely proud of our marine patrol officers for the excellent service they provide for our citizens.”
The Lorain Marine Patrol had a budget of about $42,671 last year, with state grant funding paying for about $32,000 of the cost. The Lorain Police Department provides an officer and gas for the patrol boat, while the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office also deputizes some of the seven marine patrol officers, Smith said.
“We could not do it without them ... so it’s really a collaborative effort,” Smith said.
The Lorain Marine Patrol operated April 3 to Nov. 18, 2014, with on-water patrols and vessel safety inspections from April 21 to Oct. 25, 2014.
The patrol officers had 28 on-water vessel safety inspections and 150 ramp, marina or dock inspections. The marine patrol officers made five citations or arrests and gave 230 warnings, mostly for boaters to have adequate visual distress signals.
The Lorain patrol also investigated two accidents and had seven search and rescue cases, resulting in six lives saves, according to its 2014 operating report. It also assisted 45 vessels with 691 people involved.
The Vermilion Marine Patrol had a 2014 budget of $42,880, with $32,000 in state grant money, sand Vermilion Police Sgt. Gordon Adams, who supervises the city’s water officers.
The Vermilion patrol had six documented lifesaving efforts in 2014, along with 204 vessel safety inspections, 316 written warnings and 38 issued citations. The Vermilion water officers logged nine search and rescue operations, four boat crashes and assisted 72 vessels, “so we were quite busy,” Adams said.
The Vermilion and Lorain units readily offer mutual aid to each other for special events such as fireworks, and will travel as far as Cleveland for events such as marine patrols around tall ship visits, Adams said.
The two also work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard Station Lorain for on-water operations including search and rescues when people go missing, Adams said.
Vermilion and Lorain marine patrol officers also schedule on-shore speaking and safety training, Adams said. The Lorain unit is available through the Lorain Port Authority at 440-204-2265 and the Vermilion unit is available through the police department at 440-967-6116.
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
A new 40-by-80-foot pavilion will be built at the Lorain Port Authority’s Black River Landing festival site.
The Port board on March 19 voted 7-2 to spend $140,690 for the new structure, which will have a 10-by-90-foot concrete pad for trucks to sit on and at least four electrical outlets, according to plans.
The winning bidder was Classical Construction of Apple Creek. The project cost includes a bid price of $127,900 and a 10 percent contingency fund of $12,790 to cover unexpected costs that come up during construction.
The new pavilion will be paid for with $80,000 from Ohio’s state capital budget, $20,000 from the Lorain County Solid Waste Committee and the Port’s annual budget.
The structure has been on the drawing board for months and in a special meeting March 19, the Port board reviewed benefits and potential drawbacks of the building, which will replace the tents used for sales of beer and wine during events at Black River Landing.
The new pavilion will be a wood structure. Steel was included as an alternate material to build it, but Classical Construction and the other bidder, Cornice Co., stated ordering steel would delay construction until at least the end of May.
Consulting architect Gary Fischer said the wood structure provided the most time sensitive approach and economical solution.
The board hoped to have the structure in place in by Memorial Day this year so it is ready for Lorain’s summer festival season.
Board members Carl Nielsen, Barbara Cook, Connie Carr, Brad Mullins, Steve Bansek, Neil Sommers and Roberto Davila voted in favor of the building; members Tom Brown and Alan Zgonc voted against it.
After discussing the purpose, aethetics and cost, Carr said the wood building would last as long as a steel one, be built on schedule and would be slightly cheaper than the metal structure. Board members noted it would cost an estimated $35,000 to buy or rent a tent for the season.
However, Brown said he was “more confused than ever” about the design and purpose of the new pavilion.
The new building will match the colors of the existing pavilions at the site, which is home to the Lorain International Festival Bazaar, other community events and this year the Rockin’ on the River concert series.
Filed on March 3, 2016 by Katie Nix
LORAIN — Rockin’ on the River will be returning to Lorain this year, and promoter Bob Earley said the series will be bigger than ever.
Monica Robins and the Ninja Cowboys play at Rockin’ on the River at Black River Landing at the first concert event at the new venue in Lorain, moving from Cuyahoga Falls. Robins will return to Black River Landing this year. CHRONICLE FILE
“We increased the band budget this year by about two or three times what it was last year,” Earley said. “We want to be able to give the people who attend Rockin’ on the River the best experience possible.”
Earley said the series, whose 2016 schedule was released Wednesday, struggled a bit in the beginning of the 2015 season due to cold weather and rain, but the rest of the season went well with an average attendance of 5,000 people.
“It’s so unbelievable to me how quickly the series was accepted by the people in the area,” Earley said.
Rockin’ on the River moved from Cuyahoga Falls to Black River Landing in 2015.
“The first time we saw Black River Landing, we were really surprised at how beautiful it was,” Earley said. “And I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It’s a great venue, and where else are you going to be able to see bands like this, with the food that’s offered for only $5?”
Earley said some of the tribute bands, 1964 (The Beatles) and Who’s Bad? (Michael Jackson) for example, sell tickets at other venues for $35 or $40, so the $5 admission to the Friday night concert series is “quite the deal.”
Earley said he thinks Rockin’ on the River has appeal because many don’t want to have to drive all the way to downtown Cleveland to attend a concert.
“I think downtown Lorain is a great place to be right now,” he said. “I think it’s three to five years away from a serious revitalization, and people won’t be able to recognize it from the place it is now. The whole county for that matter is headed in that direction.
“Lorain will be a destination here pretty soon. Wait and see.”
The full Rockin’ on the River schedule can be seen on&nb
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Code violations at the Broadway Building could end up on the docket at Lorain Municipal Court, according to city actions.
Meanwhile, one downtown supporter remains convinced Lorain would benefit if the Broadway Building was reborn as a hotel. A plan to renovate the building to create apartments still is in the works, one consultant said.
The Broadway Building, 301 Broadway, never entirely leaves the public conversation about how Lorain might rejuvenate its downtown.
In December, the city of Lorain sent an official notice of violation to owner Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. for conditions of the building walls. The compliance date was Jan. 19, said Leon Mason, director of Lorain’s Department of Building, Housing and Planning.
This month, Housing Inspector Eric Elmi reviewed the building and generated another report sent to Lorain Municipal Court for a summons.
The city report cited the exterior structure, unsafe condition of siding and masonry joints, unsafe conditions of exterior design features and the walls. It was unclear exactly when the building would land on the court docket.
A project to convert the building into an apartment complex still is in the works, said Anthony Giardini, attorney for owner Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd Co., and Gary Fischer, the Lorain architect working with developer James Louthen to restore the building.
The Broadway Building still could find life as a hotel, said Ron Nabakowski, retired Lorain County Clerk of Courts.
Nabakowski remains a booster of Lorain’s main street and he publishes the “Waterfront Arts & Entertainment District Intelligencer,” an online newsletter dedicated to news about downtown.
In 2009, Nabakowski proposed using the Broadway Building as the Lake Erie Adventure Inn, a base for vacationing anglers to go fishing aboard charter boats and guided river trips.
“We’ve brought hundreds of thousands of people downtown since then,” he said.
In the Waterfront Intelligencer, Nabakowski started 2016 with commentaries renewing the call for a hotel in downtown Lorain. He suggested an investment up to $7 million for a complete remodeling job with a rooftop café and two rooftop luxury suites.
Fischer said he personally has shown Lorain’s downtown to five hotel representatives.
They agree Lorain could use the hotel, but remodeling and restoration costs would be too high for the Broadway Building, he said. It would be easier to build new on another site, he said.
“They’re all interested,” Fischer said about the developers. “They’re not necessarily interested in that building.”
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
The Lorain Port Authority will work with Lorain schools and the city to control a site that could become a new veterans clinic.
Meanwhile, the Port also will sponsor this year’s Rockin’ on the River concert series with an extra boost of $5,000.
The Lorain Port Authority board on Jan. 20 held a special meeting to consider an agreement to work with Lorain City Schools to transfer the current Lorain High School to the Port. The Port board voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution allowing Executive Director Rick Novak to work with the city and schools on a property transfer.
The Port control of the LHS site would become part of an “expression of interest” submitted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a new community based outpatient clinic, or CBOC, in Lorain.
The VA is seeking “expressions of interest” for using 20,052 square feet of net usable space for a permanent clinic in Lorain, according to a Jan. 4 notice by the federal agency. Proposals are due Jan. 25 to the federal agency.
The goal of the project with the city and schools is to have a permanent location for the CBOC in Lorain, Novak said.
Details still are in the works for the LHS property, Novak said, but ultimately the Port could take title to the high school, which also is the former Southview High School at 2270 E. 42nd St.
The Port Authority will have no up-front cost because of the resolution, Novak said. The transfer would allow the Port to transfer the land without going out for public bid on the site, he said.
The resolution also shows the Port, Lorain schools and the city are partners in redeveloping Lorain, said Port board President Carl Nielsen.
For months, the city has been looking for ways to keep the community based outpatient clinic, or CBOC, at the St. Joseph Community Center, 205 W. 20th St. in Lorain, or in the city at another location. The VA in October 2015 announced that it signed a lease agreement with Fedcar Co. Ltd. to develop and lease the property located at 5255 N. Abbe Road, Sheffield Village, moving in this year.
On a personal note, Nielsen praised the VA for health care provided to his uncle, the late Homer Nielsen, an Army veteran of World War II who died at age 86.
“If it wasn’t for the VA in Lorain, his quality of life would not have been as good as it was,” Nielsen said. “They were wonderful to him.”
Meanwhile, the Port will commit $5,000 from its marketing budget to support the Rockin’ on the River concert series to be held for the second summer at Black River Landing.
Rockin’ on the River promoter Bob Earley asked the board to consider the financial sponsorship as he negotiates with bands that will appear this year, Novak said.
The Port this year will have a new online system for advance sales of tickets to Rockin’ on the River shows, so the Lorain Port Authority may make back the $5,000, Novak said. The new ticket system is in development but Earley’s goal is to have it go live by March 1, Novak said.
Earley and the weekly shows were “a game-changer for this community,” Novak said, and the board members agreed.
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Spitzer Chevrolet Amherst has signed on as the title sponsor the Rockin’ on the River concert series in Lorain.
Concert promoter Bob Earley announced the new sponsorship on Jan. 4.
“It’s great to have them on board,” Earley said.
It’s going to make for a big name, though, he added with a laugh.
Rockin’ on the River’s official moniker and logo will add Spitzer Chevrolet Amherst, although the exact new name and design are not final, Earley said.
“They’re going to take an active part,” he said about the Spitzer Chevy Amherst dealership. “We’re going to make them proud and they’re going to make us proud.”
The 2016 concert series will feature 20 shows running from June 3 to Sept. 10, with 12 events on Friday nights, seven on Saturdays and one on Sunday. The schedule likely will be completed within 30 days, Earley said.
This year will be the second summer that Rockin’ on the Rover spends in Lorain. In 2015, the series moved from Cuyahoga Falls.
Last year, Earley acknowledged area merchants did not know what to expect with the weekly shows by classic rock, country and contemporary tribute bands.
The success of 2015 sparked the interest of businesses and event organizers, Earley said. He added he does not necessarily seek out sponsors, but the interest is “just a natural part of what we do” when crowds start coming, he said.
“It’s nice to be recognized by a great community citizen like Spitzer,” Earley said.
The sponsorship does not change the use agreement between Rockin’ on the River and the Lorain Port Authority, which controls the Black River Landing community festival site, said Rick Novak, Port executive director.
Novak agreed with Earley that some Lorain-area businesspeople might have known about Rockin’ on the River in Cuyahoga Falls, but did not know the effect it would have in Lorain.
“I think now people have a much better understanding of it, and they’re willing to step up and support the events,” Novak said. “It’s great that the Spitzer organization and dealership stepped up with their willingness to fund the event. I think it’s great.”
The Port will not get any revenues due to the sponsorships. With the musical acts, staffing and portable restrooms, people may not realize how much money Earley invests in the community, Novak said.
“It’s a huge investment,” he said.
Metro Creative Connection
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Lorain’s state audit for 2014 noted a significant deficiency in the way the city evaluates business development loans that were not repaid.
Meanwhile, the state audit also listed continuing computer problems at the city Clerk of Courts Office, but Clerk of Courts Lori Maiorana said the computer troubles are getting corrected.
The city of Lorain has suspended, for 120 days, any new loans to businesses that want to locate or grow in the city. The loans are made with Community Development Block Grant money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The hiatus is needed for the city Department of Building, Housing and Planning to evaluate the process and rules governing the loans, said Mayor Chase Ritenauer and department Director Leon Mason.
The 2014 audit from Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office noted each year, the city gets loan reports from the Lorain Development Corp., a nonprofit corporation that administers the loans.
The city’s allowance for uncollectable loans had errors overstating the balance by $275,718 and a duplicate loan number overstating the balance by $54,924, according to the state audit.
“Further, when we examined certain loan files designated as uncollectable or write-off, they were incomplete and lacked a clear rationale to be designated as uncollectable or write-off,” the audit report said. “Also, the designation of loans from collectable to uncollectable or written off were inconsistent.
“The aforementioned deficiencies diminish the reliability of the loans receivable balance including the calculation of allowance for uncollectable loans and could result in misstatements to the financial statements.”
The city review process could take less than 120 days, Ritenauer and Mason said. In the state audit, the anticipated completion date is March 31 for the review of the loan policies.
The 2014 audit report also noted a significant deficiency in bank reconciliations for Lorain Municipal Court accounts.
The record problems in the court happened because of a number of computer issues starting when new software went live Oct. 1, 2013, and a computer system crash that resulted in lost data from March 1, 2014, to May 19, 2014.
Maiorana estimated the clerks have corrected 99.5 percent of the errors, although the clerk of court’s computer system remains problematic. The clerk’s office is paying a company to support the existing system and in the next year, aims to find a new computer system, she said.
“We are in the process of completing a manual bank reconciliation currently,” Maiorana’s formal response said. “We have been able to identify and disperse most of our money to the various agencies. We still have approximately $34,000 to properly identify and we are continuing to work on that task.”
By Kaylee Remington, The Morning Journal
Board members of Visit Lorain County - Lorain County Visitors Bureau and staff members attended the Lorain County commissioners meeting Jan. 20 to give support to Executive Director Barb Bickel who gave a presentation of the organization.
The presentation was given in hopes that the commissioners will reconsider the vote of terminating their contract with the Visitors Bureau and entering into a new one. The commissioners voted on the resolution, 3-0, during a Nov. 10 meeting.
Commissioner Matt Lundy said after the meeting that one of the biggest concerns for the commissioners is the meetings have been out of public view and not transparent, which is an issue since the Visitors Bureau receives $500,000 in bed tax money a year.
Lundy added that even the doors would be locked during the meetings. The meetings take place at 8025 Leavitt Road in Amherst.
“The transparency and open meetings was a very big concern,” he said.
Lundy further explained that the commissioners want a more streamlined Visitors Bureau board.
Howard Lane, a Visitors Bureau board member, also spoke to the commissioners Jan. 20 and stated he understands they have issues with its 17-member board of directors.
“We proposed to them, you can have an advisory board as big as you want and the advisory board can be from all over the county,” Lundy said. “That would make it possible for more inclusion. But when it came time to make a decision, it would be limited to nine decision makers.”
The Visitors Bureau leaders could rotate people where someone votes one time and is on the advisory board next, he said.
The board of directors recently voted 7-5 to restructure the board. Lundy, who is on the board of directors, did not vote on the restructuring.
Lane stated during the commissioners’ meeting, the Visitors Bureau has no objections to the meetings being public and admitted it, technically, hasn’t been following the open meetings act. Lane said they haven’t given notices out, either.
Lane, however, stressed that it’s not like the meetings are closed, the board just never gave notice to the public and the media.
“Our lack of adherence to the open meetings act wasn’t a result of any desire to keep anything a secret or deny the commissioners or public access,” he said.
Lane, who has been on the board for five years, said, in the past, the Visitors Bureau hasn’t had problems with the size of the board and it allows for more people to be involved.
“Our current board members are from all over the county,” he said. “But if the plan we are discussing, the nine with the 5/4 split, does go into effect, which again could be a condition of any contract we enter into, the board’s going to have a direct role in choosing who’s going to be on that board and addressing any concerns of geographic misrepresentation that you feel exists.”
Bickel’s presentation showcased the increased usage of the Visitors Bureau
The lodging tax has gone up 47 percent in the past five years. At the same time, the marketing budget doubled in 2015 and the Visitors Bureau is looking to triple it this year, she said.
The Visitors Bureau’s online presence also has grown.
“For 2010 to 2015, the number of users and sessions have tripled and page views have doubled in that time,” Bickel said.
Social media presence also has increased 20 percent from 2015 to 2016.
The 2016 Adventure and Visitors Info Guide for Lorain County can be picked up on the Ohio Turnpike, Indiana Turnpike, Pennsylvania Turnpike and Ohio Department of Transportation information centers. There are 300 distribution points in Lorain County where people can get the visitors guide.
“We’re incredibly excited and optimistic about the tourism in Lorain County,” Bickel said, adding she hopes issues can be addressed with the commissioners.
At this point, the commissioners are reviewing their presentation and no decision has been made yet, Lundy said.
By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal
Eric Bonzar - The Morning JournalThe Lorain Marine Patrol monitors the Black River in June 2015.
Despite bad weather for recreational boating, Lorain’s Marine Patrol kept busy during 2015, according to the Patrol’s annual report.
The Lorain Port Authority oversees the Marine Patrol and Patrol Commander Ed Favre gave the summary of 2015 operations for the Port Authority board, which applies for the state grant funding that helps pay for the local water safety officers.
The Patrol operated from April 12 to Nov. 6, with boat patrols and courtesy vessel safety inspections running from May 2 to Oct. 27.
Like 2014, last year was “not very good” as a boating season, the Patrol report said.
“Heavy early season rains and dominant northerly winds discouraged small boaters,” the report said. “We saw fewer boaters and assisted fewer vessels and persons in non emergency situations.”
However, search and rescue calls from 2014 to 2015 doubled to 14 and the Patrol rescued 17 people from potentially dangerous or life-threatening situations, the report indicated.
The Marine Patrol also increased its written safety inspections from 178 in 2014 to 254 last year. Spot checks also increased from 589 in 2014 to 660 last year.
The Marine Patrol made one arrest last year. There were 48 warnings for not obeying navigation rules; 47 warnings for boats not having proper registration; 40 warnings for careless, negligent or reckless operation; and 37 warnings for boat operators not having required visual distress signals.
Favre said the Patrol officers usually do not go out of their way to cite or arrest people, but issue warnings and assist with safety equipment when possible.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio Division of Watercraft have increased performance expectations about safety and security along Ohio’s shoreline. Much of that emphasis is due to the Republican National Convention scheduled in Cleveland in summer 2016, Favre said.
This year, the Marine Patrol intends to replace its older, heat-generating lights with cooler and brighter LED lights on its patrol vessel. The Patrol seeks out equipment upgrades through the Ohio Division of Watercraft and other partners for free or at minimal expense.
“The Marine Patrol is mindful of limited budget and resources and strives to get the most out of both,” the report said. “We work hard at maintaining good relations with our partners,” including Lorain police and firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Vermilion Police Department, which also has a marine patrol.
In 2015, the Port Authority and Vermilion police each received state grants of $35,000 to pay for the respective marine patrols.
Last year, the other Lorain Marine Patrol officers were Mark Tomlin, Tom Davis, Todd Pierce, Keith Riggs, Jeremy Tavenner and Terry Stephens.