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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Residents encouraged to help obtain grant


By William Kincaid
MENDON - Village residents are urged to participate in a series of public meetings and surveys to help Mendon obtain a $300,000 neighborhood revitalization Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
If successful, Mendon would be the only municipality in Mercer County to obtain the grant twice.
Around 20 residents attended the first CDBG public meeting Tuesday, to hear an overview of the program that may lead to village-wide improvements.
Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing said he hopes to secure the grant, which could then be leveraged with other funding sources such as the Ohio Department of Transportation, to initiate several projects in Mendon.
But first, the county needs Mendon residents to fill out an income survey.
The competitive federal grant - established to help small- to medium-sized municipalities in distress - requires 60 percent of the population be in the low- to moderate-income bracket.
Village volunteers will soon go door-to-door asking residents to complete a confidential income survey.
"We can't go any further if the village doesn't qualify," Ebbing said.
Ebbing said 171 surveys must be completed from the 290 addresses in the village.
"Some people are resistant to doing them. They are confidential," Ebbing said about the survey.
Residents will have the opportunity at the next meeting to give their opinions about what improvements are most needed.
"Be thinking about what's important to the village," Ebbing said.
Possible activities include land acquisitions, demolition of abandoned or blighted buildings, curb and sidewalk work, street improvements and historical preservation, as well as updates to the village's water, sewer and parks and recreation facilities.
"The point is .... the state wants to see impact," Ebbing said. "We have to be broad as we can, as far reaching as we can."
Residents mentioned some concerns on Tuesday, including the need for new park playground equipment and benches, the removal of abandoned and blighted properties and the reconfiguration of the baseball diamonds.
Eventually, residents will be asked to complete a project impact survey, indicating what projects are the highest priority.
Village assessments will be coupled with the needs of the village administration and council to create an overall comprehensive application.
Future meeting dates will be released soon, Ebbing said.
There is $3 million available statewide through the competitive program that uses a scoring system to award grants to as many as 10 municipalities.
The more residents engage with the process, the better chance Mendon has of receiving the grant, Ebbing said.
Mendon was first awarded the grant in 2004. That $300,000 award was paired with other state and local grants and some village money to complete the $750,000 reconstruction of a long stretch of Main Street.
The project also included new drainage, water lines, curbs and sidewalks.
Ebbing said the county is working on behalf of Mendon because the state is scheduled to repave state Route 707, which runs through the village.
The state funding of that project may help the village obtain the CDBG grant, Ebbing said.
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