Construction at Post Office Alley is under way, thanks to commercial property owners signing away easements along the roadway.

Construction at Post Office Alley is under way, thanks to commercial property owners signing away easements along the roadway.

Village manager Jim Lenner said he received the 12th and final signature needed to begin the $318,117 project on July 14.

Lenner sent a letter to all property owners along Post Office Alley May 10 asking if they would donate part of their land to the village so it could install new water, sewer and stormwater lines and asphalt along the roadway.

The village would then become responsible for maintaining the roadway, including snow removal and pothole repairs.

The donated land ranged from approximately 87 square feet to 1,500 square feet.

Lenner said a few property owners had concerns but said once he talked to them about the project they felt more content in signing away their land.

"We talked to a couple of property owners about exactly where the right-of-way was going to be, where the pavement was going to be," Lenner said, "making sure their structures weren't in danger of being damaged or anything like that.

"We explained all that and everyone, as far as I know, felt comfortable," he said.

Lenner said that although construction was supposed to start at the beginning of July, project contractors expect to finish within 60 days instead of the intended 90 days.

In other matters Lenner told village council on July 19 that the village was one of seven communities invited back to apply for a $400,000 matching grant from the Ohio Department of Development.

Lenner said the village has good odds, considering there are four $400,000 grants available.

Downtown Johnstown, Inc. and the Old Town Committee plan to hold two public meetings on Aug. 16 and 30 to see what businesses are interested in making renovations to their property with matching funds from the grant.

"It's exciting. I mean just to piggy-back on the intersection improvements, the Post Office Alley improvements, the streetscape improvements," Lenner said. "This would be the final piece of the puzzle to have a renovated downtown."

Lenner said the grant application is due Oct. 2.

Council also passed a resolution to buy a new sewage sludge press for the village, not to exceed a cost of $530,000.

Service director Jack Liggett said it's imperative the village receives a new sludge press as soon as possible.

"If we have a wet fall we are already in trouble," Liggett said. "There will be additional dollars spent on renting a press temporarily."

The village spent nearly $25,000 this spring on emergency measures to prevent sludge from discharging into local bodies of water.

Liggett said the village would also save money on personal and maintenance costs.

He said the equipment is expected to last about 30 years.