SOUTH RUSSELL — Paw Paw Lake Drive could get a complete overhaul through a proposed $1.5 million State Infrastructure Bank loan from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

On Monday, Paw Paw Lake Homeowners Association members, village officials and ODOT program manager Brenna Smathers met via Zoom to discuss the loan.

“I think it sounds like a very attractive loan,” resident Kent Kristensen said. The homeowners association of the private community in South Russell had looked at private loans, he said, but those all needed to be paid back in 20 years. The ODOT loan can be repaid over 25 years at 3 percent interest. “Five [more] years, that’s going to be very helpful in terms of the annual payments.”

To move forward, council would have to determine if it can legally take on a public-private project and then approve the loan application.

Once approved by the state, the loan would begin accruing 3 percent interest after its first year. Paw Paw homeowners would make payments twice a year, officials said, with the option to wait up to two years after taking the loan out to begin repayment.

The road widening is needed because Paw Paw Lake residents want the village to take over maintenance, but the street department’s equipment is too wide for the private street.

Mrs. Smathers said the state has considered a infrastructure loan for Paw Paw Lake since last year, when conversations began between residents of the private community, ODOT and the village. “It is SIB policy that we only lend to public entities,” she explained. “So, I suggested that the county or the village might apply for the SIB loan. The application has to come from a local authority to be able to borrow.”

Paw Paw Lake residents must contact both the village and ODOT when money is needed to pay a contractor, she said. Once work is approved by a contractor, the state would send the check to the village which is applying for the loan, Mrs. Smathers said. A loan of this size requires a $6,000 fee, to be paid to ODOT’s SIB financial adviser, she added. It will be rolled into the semi-annual payments that Paw Paw Lake will make to the village.

South Russell Mayor William Koons said he would consult with other administrators who have taken out SIB loans in the past for advice.

“The idea of us taking out a loan for $1.5 million, some people are probably rolling around in their graves already,” Mayor Koons said at the meeting. “This is something we have to approach carefully because we have a few other private roads that are going to be watching and listening.”

Councilman Mike Carroll said private developments off of Bell Road may see what the village is doing with Paw Paw Lake and try to spark up a comparable deal, exposing the village to more loans. He said the law director must be consulted to see if the village can take on a loan for a private development.

Sugar Bush Lane has been in talks with South Russell with a goal of establishing a public-private partnership to help deal with road issues caused by flooding, officials confirmed. At South Russell’s regular council meeting on Monday, Mayor Koons said he had received a quote to clean out the Sugar Bush silt pond for $13,000.

“We’re excited to move ahead and figure out a way to get it taken care of,” Sugar Bush Homeowners Association President Kyle Canter said at the meeting. “I think we would just want to get a better understanding.”

Village officials said they plan to meet with residents of Paw Paw Lake and Sugar Bush Lane to further discuss the proposed projects.

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