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Published: Wednesday, 7/27/2005

Pemberville: $303,000 grant to bolster downtown

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A $303,000 grant from the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council Of Governments will help Pemberville officials and residents realize their goal of revitalizing their downtown area.

Though the grant can only be used for streetscapes, which includes sidewalks, curbs, lamp posts, and trees, Councilman James Barnes said village officials are relieved they don't have to worry about finding money to revitalize the downtown streetscapes.

"It's going to allow us to spread our money around more wisely," said Mr. Barnes, who is also the chairman of council's economic development committee.

But because it's a grant that requires a 20 percent match in addition to 100 percent of the design fees, the mayor said the village is looking for grants that can be used to subsidize the local share, as well as other grants to use for the village's downtown project.

"Our design firm is working to see how we can get the most bang for our buck," Mayor James Opelt said. "We were one of the few small villages that were granted."

This is the third grant Pemberville officials have applied for, and received, for their downtown project so far.

"There is a small investment on our part to apply for the grants, and it's money well-spent at this point," Mr. Barnes said. "It will really brighten up our downtown area and it's nice that all three [grants] kind of go together."

Earlier this year, Wood County commissioners approved giving the village $50,000 in Community Development Block Grants for the village to make restrooms at the old fire hall handicapped-accessible.

The village also received $15,000 from Ohio's CDBG program's comprehensive downtown revitalization grant program, and have been working with Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green to prepare for the revitalization for the last few months.

A steering committee made up of volunteers was set up to help Poggemeyer complete the plan's market analysis and design review. The committee is also charged with identifying the downtown's boundaries, the needs of the community, and the changes they would like to see downtown.

Mr. Barnes said they have been working on deciding where the downtown is located during the three meetings they've had so far. "They're still in the infancy of the planning, but they're really going," he said.

The planning stage is being carried out with a total of $30,000 - half of which is from the block grant and half in matching funds. The plan is necessary for the village to apply for more community development block grant funds to put the plan into action.

The village will receive the $303,000 from TMACOG as early as July, 2007, or as late as July, 2008.

By that time, the mayor said village officials will have their plan in place. They are shooting for submitting their application for the Tier Two CDBG grant of up to $400,000 within the next year.

"A large percent of grant money is coming in," the mayor said, "and a very small percent of village money going out."



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