Puzzle pieces

Council, planners take steps to free up riverfront properties

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Warren City Council and the Planning Commission have taken steps this week to pave the way for the acquisition of two properties by the city that are part of future development plans along the riverfront. One is this concrete pad adjacent to the townhouses that, under the current proposal, would be converted to boat trailer parking.

The City of Warren last fall was awarded nearly $150,000 in state grant funding to secure the concrete pad and the strip along the riverfront behind the building where Ben Run and Allegheny Outfitters are located.

The City Council and the Planning Commission both took steps this week to bring that acquisition closer to reality.

Council on Monday was asked to forgive a $500 municipal lien that was in place on the parcel that contained the vacant concrete pad adjacent to the townhouses.

City Solicitor Andrea Stapleford said that the action had to be taken before the transfer between the city and Bob Yoder, who owns the townhomes, geothermal system and other properties in that area, can be finalized.

Councilwoman Danielle Flasher added that council “already voted to approve to acquire this property” and needs to take this step to receive the grant dollars.

“The city is in no way relieving any financial obligation of Mr. Bob Yoder as part of this transaction,” Mayor David Wortman said. “That is not happening…. (The) lien is being removed from that so we can purchase it.”

The Planning Commission on Wednesday was then asked to approve two subdivisions submitted by the City of Warren.

The subdivisions split off the property the city is planning to acquire from other Yoder-owned parcels.

“Both of these subdivisions are in preparation of development of the riverfront area,” Director of Codes and Planning Randy Rossey said, and will allow “the city to use DCNR grant money.”

On the parcel that includes the pad, City Manager Mike Holtz said that work to that space will “correct some of the inherent problems” with the parcel.

The second subdivision splits off the location of the wells for the area’s geothermal system from the strip of land along the river.

Holtz said Yoder will retain the “right of way for all the pipelines. We are cutting out the pumphouse. The city doesn’t want to have to maintain his geothermal, that’s for sure.”

He added that the “some sort of walkway” is the plan for that strip of land as well as to “make it more sightly” by cleaning up the trees along the bank.

The fourth design for the riverfront was pitched by city officials back in February.

This design shifts activity downstream to the Breeze Point Landing area, and includes a floating dock and boat ramp. The discovery of endangered mussels in the area shifted the plan away from encroaching into the riverbed.

Under the proposal, there will be multiple sets of rock stars to directly access the river, trailer parking on the current concrete pad adjacent to the townhouses and the traffic flow on Breeze Point Circle will be reversed.

A timeline presented would see the permits secured by April 1, 2025 so the project can go out for bid. Current estimates would see a construction phase from September 2025 until September 2026.


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