As he enters his second year as mayor of Amherst, Mark Costilow says technological improvements and a proposed renovation of Central School will remain high priorities in 2017.
He talked with us about some of his “resolutions” for the city.
Establishing a data network that connects all city buildings will be a big focus. It will help share important files between the mayor, financial offices, utilities workers, police, firefighters, and others.
“We don’t even have a city network and we’re hoping to develop one,” Costilow said. “We are not connected as far as network infrastructure. We’re hoping to get that put in as well as upgrade some of our computers and software. It’s just a general technology upgrade for the city.”
In September, American Municipal Power presented city council with a $2.6 million plan to upgrade to wireless meters for electric and water service that would eliminate the need for in-person meter reading.
“We want to get the wireless meters installed, completed, and working for water and electric service. It’s completely wireless. They’ll send signals right to our utility offices and it will be more efficient, timely, and just more modern,” said Costilow.
A proposed renovation of Central School was not awarded any historic preservation state tax credits this past month. Sprenger Health Care had planned to use the aid to turn the building into 40 assisted living units.
Sprenger plans to reapply for the tax credits in February.
“I really hope Central School is able to be renovated,” said Costilow. “I really hope when they resubmit for the tax credits it’s accepted in the next round. That will be a really great project for the city. We’re still going to work on it and I’m doing everything I can to help them. It’s a very high-priority issue.”
Ohio Senate Bill 331, passed in December, gave large Internet providers such as AT&T authority to construct service towers in public right of ways as well as install equipment on poles in an effort to create a state-wide wireless network.
Costilow said it may have been a bit of an overreach.
“They’re trying to take a lot of the local control away over our right of ways without any of our say,” he said. “I know it passed in the lame duck session. In a lame duck session, a lot of stuff is pushed through quickly because some people are leaving. It looks like it’s not as bad as when it was first proposed but I know it still takes away a lot of our authority. It seems to me that mayors and local governments should have some say on what’s going to go in their public right of ways.”
Improvements to select areas of Amherst’s sewer infrastructure are also on the horizon.
“We’re in the first stages of planning a couple of sewer projects that will help waste water and storm water flow,” said Costilow. “We’ve just turned our engineers loose to isolate and identify where some of our biggest trouble areas are. Hopefully, we’ll have more information on that by February.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times Mayor Mark Costilow anticipates creating a wireless network linking city buildings and hopes to see Central School renovated in 2017.