By SEAN RICE
Downtown Celina building owners could claim thousands of state
grant dollars for general building upgrades, if city leaders
continue the detailed process of applying for large downtown
Linda Hall, a community development specialist from Poggemeyer
Design Group, of Bowling Green, informed a Celina City Council
committee on the quantities of federal Housing and Urban Development
dollars available through Ohio’s Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) program.
Celina could attract millions of revitalization grant dollars,
with relatively small levels of city general fund money required,
Hall explained. By coordinating the public and private projects
already planned, Celina could tally the value of those projects
as match money to attract CDBG funds.
The CDBG revitalization grant program has three options: a planning
grant with $15,000 available, a revitalization grant with $400,000
available and a “target of opportunity” grant without
a maximum limit. Each grant phase requires a 100 percent match
from the community.
Budgeted in the 2004 appropriations for Celina is $15,000 for
the planning phase of the grant, which if approved would provide
an additional $15,000 to create planning documents needed to
apply for the revitalization grant.
City council is scheduled to consider the first reading of the
appropriations ordinance Monday night.
The $30,000 in planning funds would be used to create a downtown
plan using market studies, building surveys, building design
guidelines and input from a revitalization committee, which
would need to be created.
When the time comes to apply for the larger grants, numerous
public and private projects can be grouped into one grant request.
The grant can fund nearly any building upgrade or public improvement
benefiting the downtown district, Hall explained, using private
roof replacements and city sidewalk work as an example.
Using the ideas laid out by Hall, a group of private building
owners could apply for funds for exterior facade work, roof
work or interior upgrades totaling $400,000. The $400,000 match
funds required could be accounted for using a city street light
project or park or road improvements underway at the same time.
Match funds can also come in the form of small donations or
other concurrent projects, even a community group’s labor
in promoting the downtown can be counted.
The range of building upgrades that qualify for funding is vast,
Hall explained, with seemingly only interior painting and carpeting
excluded, unless apartments units are being improved.
Hall spoke of a village which used an Ohio Department of Transportation
project that was of no cost to the municipality to account for
hundreds of thousands of match dollars.
“It’s like saying ‘OK state, we’re going
to take your dollars and match this with your other dollars’,”
Hall said. “It’s a wonderful program.”
The CDBG revitalization grant program has been in existence
since the mid-1980s, and Celina applied for and received funds
for downtown improvements in one of the first years of the program,
Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski said. Some of those funds
were used to place tree boxes in downtown sidewalks, which were
The goal of the federal program is to benefit persons with low-to-moderate
income (LMI) with jobs or housing or to eliminate areas of slums
or blighted conditions. Despite the harshness in the terms,
Hall said the program is subjective enough to allow each community
to determine the thresholds of what is substandard and standard.
Poggmeyer Design Group handled five of the seven revitalization
grants awarded this year and has a 100 percent award record
when all the correct measures are taken, Hall said.
“We have to start putting the puzzle together now if we
want to make something like this happen in the next couple of
years,” Canary said Friday.