SIDNEY — A presentation on projects and activities to “activate” downtown Sidney was given to Sidney City Council during its Monday evening meeting. Law Director Jeffery Amick, who is set to retire at the end of December, was also commended by City Council for his service to the city of Sidney.
For more than a year, a focus group of private citizens has been meeting to discuss ways to make a positive impact on the Sidney community. Their discussions have focused on vacant/blighted buildings, housing needs, and the downtown.
The downtown and riverfront development strategy, developed by CityVisions Associates, identified strategic actions designed to raise the level of activity in the downtown, as well as between downtown and the river. CityVisions, of Louisville, Kentucky, is a downtown developer/consultant that has previous worked on the riverfront development strategy in Piqua, Dayton and Springfield. Recently, the focus group has concentrated on public/private projects and activities to activate the downtown.
John Freytag, of Freytag & Associates, provided follow-up information Monday about what his company and members of the downtown focus group have been working on since he made his last presentation on the subject in June. At the June meeting Freytag, an architect engineer, provided a recap of the downtown Sidney development strategy with a focus on the east side, along with a cost estimate for phase I plans for Piper Park, enhancements to the streetscape and courthouse square.
Monday’s presentation focused on design plans for the entire downtown on how to activate Piper Park and enhancements to the streetscape and courthouse square for council to review. Weaved throughout the PowerPoint presentation were several drawings illustrating potential improvement ideas of ways to activate the downtown with archways, crosswalks and alleys. Others ideas depicted include bike racks, the use of hanging baskets and greenery at lamp posts, food trucks, and outdoor string twinkle lighting and seasonal outdoor Bistro seating for use in the DORA.
The total projected cost for the project, to include crosswalk and alley improvements, three gateway street arches, foundations steel posts and street arch lighting utilities, is estimated at $900,000, Freytag’s presentation showed. He urged City Council to provide feedback at the Monday evening to confirm they were on the right track so they could continue with their work.
Mayor Mardie Milligan said she believes council members like the improvements seen so far, but are not sure where all the money will come from and need to confer with the finance department. She said members will discuss the topic at their council retreat, set for March or April, and will get back with him to come back to a future City Council meeting. After Freytag again pushed for more of a financial commitment so they know they should begin fundraising, County Commissioner Julie Ehemann spoke to confirm the county has committed $100,000 for work on the courthouse property. Milligan told Freytag the city of Sidney has also included $175,000 in its 2022 budget for the project.
In other business Monday, City Council adopted a resolution commending Amick during his final council meeting as a city employee for his more than 40 year career as a public servant. Amick, who will retire on Dec. 31, 2021, has spent the last 10 years working for the city of Sidney.
Before reading the sections of the resolution, City Clerk Kari Egbert said, “Amick has distinguished himself as a hard-working and dedicated public servant, at all times committed to helping the communities he has served, the fair and moral application of the law, the administration of regulations with a sense of fairness; and has provided invaluable leadership and guidance on numerous significant projects. His sense of humor, infectious positive attitude and his respected judgment have all made him a trusted advisor to Sidney’s city staff and city council in all city-related matters.”
Amick thanked council for the appreciation and said he thoroughly enjoyed his time working at Sidney. He said he will miss the work, community, and people he has worked with, saying he loves them all.
Council member Mike Barhorst said Amick has been a tremendous asset and he doubts Sidney residents know how valuable he has been to the city. Having known many law directors over the years, Barhorst said, “Amick is certainly at the top.”
Hamaker and Milligan also thanked Amick for his service.