During a special council session Wednesday, Marietta City Council voted to advertise for bids to renovate the ground floor of the Armory, a key step in restoring the restoring the site for public use.
With councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, absent, the remaining members unanimously approved an emergency measure to move forward with the bid process in order to avoid losing out on time-sensitive grant funding awarded to the project by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
"This is to fast track this project so we don't lose ODOT funding in the amount of a quarter of a million dollars," said councilman Harley Noland, D-at large.
The project would only cover the restoration of the ground floor of the facility, which would ultimately house handicapped accessible public restrooms, council chambers, the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and other businesses.
At least part of the Front Street building has to be ready for occupancy by September 2015 to meet the requirements of a $252,397 Scenic Byways grant provided through ODOT.
Wednesday's vote simply authorized the advertisement for bids, added Noland. In order to accept a bid, the city will need to have the matching funds in place by Sept. 16, the bids' due date.
The Friends of the Armory Square Inc. have already raised $63,000 toward the project, but approximately another $100,000 is needed to fund the first floor renovations. The nonprofit group hopes to do so through the sale of personalized bricks and by raising donations through the Marietta Community Foundation, said Noland.
Also Wednesday, council's streets and transportation committee heard from a Seventh Street resident and cancer patient who is hoping to gain a more accessible parking option for her home.
Linda Morris said the long walks to her home are a struggle as she battles the disease and asked for the ability to build a parking pad on the grass strip between her home and the street.
The Morris family has alley access to their home, but it is currently being cut off because they are not allowed to tear down a dilapidated garage in the rear of their home until American Electric Power moves a hazardous power line that has been a problem for more than two years, Morris said.
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said council was hesitant to allow a car pad because it would create a chain reaction of others wanting the same.
Councilwoman Kathy Downer, D-at large, added she and council would work on two other options. First, they would call AEP and insist on the removal of the dangerous line. Second, they would work toward painting a handicap curb space near Morris' home, she said.