Board ponders grant projects

Tiffin City Council members discussed possible projects to be paid for with Community Development Block Grant discretionary funds at the Economic Development and Downtown Planning Committee meeting Wednesday.

Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. Director of Development Karen Bowers said the city is guaranteed the formula allocation grant of $75,000, regardless of competitive applications.

The two set-aside programs the city can apply for are the neighborhood revitalization program and the critical infrastructure program. The neighborhood revitalization program requires high-impact projects with three activities that would upgrade a neighborhood, while the critical infrastructure program is for a failed or a failing system, such as bridges or sewers, Bowers said.

Due to the existing application for a downtown revitalization grant for the Laird Arcade Building improvements, the city will not be able to apply for that program, Bowers said.

She said she is hopeful the city will receive funding for the Laird Arcade Building.

The city is to decide on the projects by mid-May. Applications are due at the end of June.

Within the neighborhood revitalization program, Councilman Tyler Shuff said improvements to Little Hedges Park would be beneficial.

For the three individual projects, the committee suggested lighting and fencing to improve safety, along with a walking path to tie into the proposed trail.

Mayor Aaron Montz said investment in the park could improve the neighborhood in regards to ownership, which could lead to involvement such as community clean-ups similar to one at Oakley Park over the weekend.

The neighborhood could also take more responsibility for monitoring vandalism, Montz said.

For the critical infrastructure program, City Engineer Mario Livojevic suggested improvements to several bridges on St. Francis Avenue.

He said the main tributary of Gibson Run crosses at Earl Street. Currently, the bridge is too narrow to accommodate a sidewalk on both sides of the street, so there is a crosswalk to the other side.

On the western end near South Washington Street, a smaller branch of the creek crosses under the road and that bridge needs maintenance.

Livojevic said work on the area is necessary within the next five years because it is a high traffic area and it continues to be a safety issue.

A pedestrian bridge could be constructed or a pipe culvert could be placed to create a sidewalk with a rail, Livojevic said.

Councilman Jim Roberts suggested demolition of the house in front of the American Legion on South Washington Street.

The house is vacant, and the American Legion would like it demolished but does not have the funds.

Roberts said the American Legion would donate the area for a green space into the downtown.

Bowers is to look into whether the house is within the historic district and whether it can be razed.

The committee is to hold a public hearing regarding grant funding for the Salvation Army building at 3 p.m. April 30 at City Hall.

They also are to discuss the finalized list of projects proposed for CDBG funding to bring to city council.

Montz also requested that the committee consider asking Law Director Brent Howard to prepare legislation urging the Seneca County Board of Commissioners to keep the board of elections downtown.

As it is a heavily used location, Montz said moving the board out of downtown would be a detriment to the economy and growth of downtown.

He said last year Roberts spoke to commissioners about not moving the board.

Montz said he understood the issues faced by the board of elections and said the board should consider another downtown building.

“To move that (agency) out of downtown Tiffin is a foolish decision and it does not help the future development of downtown Tiffin,” Montz said.

He said he intends to address council with the request at the next council meeting.

The committee agreed to take the recommendation to Howard.