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Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Council plans to hire downtown manager

By William Kincaid
Celina Mayor Sharon Larue was authorized by city council members last week to enter into a consulting agreement for a downtown manager in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Development's Small Cities Community Development Block Grant.
At last week's regular meeting, council members approved the emergency ordinance, which transfers $10,000 from the contingency fund to the community development department for contractual services of the future manager.
Celina officials, who earlier in the year submitted a preliminary application to ODOD, were recently notified of the city's eligibility to submit a full application.
As the city will once again apply for $400,000 in ODOD downtown revitalization grant money, it must hire a downtown manager, as part of the grant stipulations. Whoever is eventually hired would coordinate with downtown business owners and state officials to gather application information.
If Celina is awarded the grant, the costs of the downtown manager will be reimbursed in the grant funds. The length of the service of the downtown manager, according to the ordinance, will be dependent upon the award of the grant. The city was rejected for the program last year.
Kent Bryan, the city's development consultant, told council members that the position needs to be put in place immediately. He also said he could not take the downtown manager position, as the state would probably not recognize him in that capacity.
Bryan said the eventual downtown manager would be a consulting position - with a short-term commitment to Celina - and has no benefits. He also stated the person in question should be a Celina resident who is well-known in the community and has adequate social skills to communicate with both business owners and state officials.
Bryan said the person in question would not necessarily need grant-writing skills, as most likely Bryan will produce the final application.
Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said the consultant manager would be paid hourly. He also said it is possible that such an employee may only cost Celina $4,000 to $5,000 - instead of the lump sum of $10,000 - based on how much work and travel the downtown manager completes.
LaRue could not be contacted on Tuesday afternoon or this morning to discuss the official job description or how many candidates have applied so far.
Last year's application focused on city officials' desire to link the downtown area with the lakefront. The state program is focused solely on redeveloping downtown areas, so emphasis on the lakefront was dropped from this year's documents, Bryan had said.  
If the city is successful, downtown building owners would be able to use a combination of their own funds and state grant money to pay for improvements. Van Wert and Greenville have both qualified for the program in recent years.
The downtown district is firmly defined in the documents. It roughly covers a 15-square-block area from Lake Shore Drive at the south to Fulton Street to the north. The district is roughly bounded by Sugar Street to the west and Ash Street to the east.
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