Council considers new revitalization program

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council considered implementing a new a grant program that will help with exterior improvements of homes in Sidney neighborhoods during its Monday evening hybrid-style meeting.

Kyle Havenar, the city’s vacant property inspector, gave a presentation on the new program called the Neighborhood Pride Grant, which could replace a current city program called Paint the Town.

Paint the Town’s aim is to stop deterioration of properties, maintain property values, and improve the appearance of the city of Sidney neighborhoods. This is done by helping low to moderate income and disadvantaged households who own their home to make improvements through exterior painting.

Havenar said Paint the Town, which was established in 1994, has an annual budget of $4,000 with the help of local partners (mostly banks) contributing funds some years. He noted while Paint the Town was a successful part of the general neighborhood revitalization effort for many years, there has been a decline in applications for the grant in the past 10 years. This prompted city staff to research activities to refresh the program and provide increased resident investment, both socially and financially, in their neighborhood.

Upon seeing examples provided by the Oswego Renaissance Association in Oswego, New York, Havenar proposed reallocating Paint the Town program funds to the Neighborhood Pride Grant. He told council members the grant is a competitive, 1 to 1 matching grant for exterior improvements up to a maximum of $1,000, with one of the major requirements being the applicants and activities must be a cluster of houses, with neighbors collaboratively working to restore confidence in their neighborhoods.

The program would identify target areas of Sidney on the cusp of decline; areas where there are investments and disinvestments, he said.

“These are the areas that can see the most benefits from a program like this,” Havenar said. “This program leverages those homeowners and residents that are willing to make investments and is an incremental approach to community development, one that focuses on building upon strengths rather than weakness.”

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked if Paint the Town program would disband if this new program was implemented and if its committee would be part of the new program. Havenar said he wasn’t sure yet, but it was a good possibility. Council Member Steve Wagner asked if a stand alone property could be considered for the grant, or only clusters of homes? Havenar said it is still early in the development process, but if council wants to move forward they can adapt the program how they want.

Wagner said he was on the fence, when asked for his opinion on the new program. He said the city could help more people, but it would exclude people he knew of who needed the help. Those people would not have been able to come up with the $1000 funds needed, which then is matched by the Neighborhood Pride Grant.

City Manager Mark Cundiff thanked Havenar for his work on the grant presentation and said it is would be a benefit to the city, as neighborhood revitalization is one of the city’s goals.

After listening to the presentation, the overall consensus among council members was excitement. Havenar was directed to move forward. Mayor Mike Barhorst told Havenar to notify Paint the Town investors of the shift toward the Neighborhood Pride Grant program.

During council comments, Darryl Thurber asked for an update on the Ohio Building progress. Cundiff said a structural engineer is about to do an evaluation of the building. City staff is also working to develop a marketing brochure of the building to try to find a buyer.

City Council held a special meeting before Monday’s regular meeting to enter into an executive session to discuss employment of a public employee. After council’s regular meeting, members again went into an executive session to discuss the employment of a public employee. No action was taken after members emerged from either meeting.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.