Council learns details of new revitalization program

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Information about a new revitalization program was presented to the Sidney City Council during its Monday evening hybrid-style meeting.

Kyle Havenar, the city’s vacant property inspector, gave a presentation on the guidelines of new program, called the Neighborhood Pride Grant. The goal of the program is to help with exterior improvements of homes in Sidney neighborhoods. Examples of these improvements include landscaping; exterior painting — historic homes must use age appropriate color pallet; porch repair; sidewalk repair; outdoor lighting; and/or planter boxes.

The revitalization program, Havenar said, encourages neighbors to collaborate on exterior improvements to their properties. Its mission is to promote restoration, beautification, and preservation; inspire confidence and pride in neighborhoods; connect neighbors; and stimulate reinvestment and revitalization.

The Neighborhood Pride Grant is open to all homeowners in Sidney. Funding is derived from a combination of city of Sidney funds and donations from private entities. This is a competitive, 1 to 1 matching grant for exterior improvements, he explained, with up to a maximum of $1,000 per dwelling.

The Citizens Peer Review Committee (CPRC) will be the advisory board for the grant, and it may amend and augment the guidelines. The CPRC will review applications and award the grants.

To qualify for Neighborhood Pride Grant funds, clusters — defined as a minimum of three and a maximum of five neighboring properties — of property owners shall submit a pre-application on forms provided by the community development department.

The pre-application requirements includes the following:

• Property must be located within Sidney corporation limits;

• Own the property for which the improvements are being proposed;

• Be a part of a cluster of properties located within the same ward;

• Identify a representative of the cluster.

Havenar also displayed a map of Sidney outlining for council members the 18 target areas for the grant. His presentation also included pictures from other communities of examples of potential improvements the grant could help with.

If the applicants meet the pre-application requirements, city staff will request further information about:

• The location within a particular target zone;

• Proximity of houses within the cluster;

• The number of participating properties;

• Teamwork on projects;

• The plan to sustain momentum.

During the 2020 introduction of the program for City Council’s consideration, it was noted the Neighborhood Pride Grant could possibly replace a separate city program called Paint the Town.

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

Paint the Town was established in 1994 and had an annual budget of $4,000 with the help of local partners (mostly banks) contributing funds some years. He noted during the 2020 council meeting, Paint the Town was a successful part of the general neighborhood revitalization effort for many years, but there has been a decline in applications for the grant in the past 10 years. He said the reduction prompted city staff to “research activities to refresh the program and provide increased resident investment, both socially and financially, in their neighborhood.”

On Monday, Council member Jenny VanMatre asked Havenar if the Neighborhood Pride Grant would be replacing Paint the Town. Havenar said Paint the Town still exists, it is just not currently funded.

After listening to the presentation, the consensus among council members was excitement.

In other business, City Council held a special meeting immediately prior to the regular meeting to enter into an executive session to discuss employment of a public employee. No action was taken after members emerged from the meeting.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.