Expand facade program
As the New Year begins, we can look back with satisfaction for the many blessings bestowed upon our town. The ongoing revival of downtown, completion of the new justice center and the numerous facade improvements along Washington Street have renewed our pride in our beloved hometown. With continued growth on our two college campuses, the promise of new development in the industrial and real estate sectors, and the enhancements offered by new retail and restaurant options, Tiffin is becoming a “destination community.” Visitors marvel at what is happening here. Our many parks, new green spaces, performing arts venues and scenic riverscape make for a unique blend of natural beauty and small town charm. The list of kudos for all of this good news is long and deep.
As often happens when our eyes are opened to new possibilities amid our everyday world, we can now see by contrast other areas of civic life which we should attend to. Specifically, I am thinking about the deteriorating state of homes and property in some of our cherished neighborhoods. While our newer suburban enclaves shine, many of the older neighborhoods are becoming seedy through neglect and careless stewardship. Many yards remain full of last year’s fallen leaves. Gutters are clogged with refuse. Yards often are filled with junk, and mowing is sporadic. Volunteer trees and weeds spring up around foundations. Shingles blow down windswept yards.
Whether caused by mendacious landlords or clueless homeowners, this situation threatens to negatively impact property values of not only decrepit properties, but the entire valuation of the surrounding neighborhood. Formerly well-kept classic homes become unrecognizable from neglect. For many of these homes, I suspect the owner or landlord never does a simple yearly “walk-around” to note problems to be repaired.
Studies sponsored from the real estate industry clearly show the value of your home is dependent not only on its condition, but that of the homes that surround you. The health of a neighborhood is fragile in that it can decline one house at a time until it is beyond repair. Or, a new spirit can bring it back to life as we are witnessing in the wonderful Frost Parkway renaissance and at several refurbished homes on South Washington Street. The important work of Habitat For Humanity also is a force for improving the quality of life in town.
I have no solution for this, except to try to be a good neighbor in maintaining my own property. However, it might be time for city council to address the need for some ordinances that protect responsible homeowners and encourage better stewardship of our neighborhoods. In specific, I propose that it is time to expand the facade improvement grant project to neighborhoods beyond the historic district. I think that a positive approach is needed.
Let’s extend the spirit of the Main Street USA into every Tiffin neighborhood.