Task force reviews goals for the downtown revitalization

By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@aimmedianetwork.com

SIDNEY — The creation of a board to promote downtown Sidney was discussed Wednesday during the city of Sidney’s Downtown Revitalization Task Force meeting held at The Bridge.

Committee member Mike Dodds, who is the executive director of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership, reported the strategic planning committee had met. Other members of the committee are Amy Breinich, director of the Downtown Business Association; Sarah Barr, executive director of Raise the Roof for the Arts; and Scott Barr, executive director of the Shelby County United Way.

“The goals are not unlike what’s been proposed before,” said Dodds.

“This captures what 60 people said at the mayor’s meeting last year that was held at the Senior Center,” said Breinrich.

Dodds presented a proposed guideline for the downtown revitalization effort. The committee also tentatively identified the target area for the revitalization; discussed forming a standalone group (board) to promote downtown, seek funding sources and provide oversight of redevelopment; and to begin the application process for 501c3 status.

Members agreed that the foundation of the new board would be formed from existing task force members.

Dodds said the proposed focus of the revitalization effort is to promote the redevelopment and reuse of vacant or underutilized buildings and real estate; enhance the downtown area, major entryways and public or private places of interest within the community; encourage downtown building renovations and infill development; renovate vacant downtown building spaces and existing structures in surrounding neighborhoods; possible provide financial assistance to development/redevelopment pjects; and promote downtown by marketing its unique characteristics.

Breinich shared shared an example of how the historic districts of downtown could be established. The exampled showed the city divided into three historic districts: downtown, north and south. The boundary on one side would be the railroad track and on the other side Brooklyn Avenue/Ohio 47.

Mark Cundiff, city of Sidney’s city manager, said he didn’t understand why Brooklyn/Ohio 47 was selected as a boundary instead of the Great Miami River. He said that residents in the south district who live on Brooklyn Avenue don’t feel connected to residents on the other side of the river.

After further discussion, the map will be revised and one or two other ones created also. Pros and cons of the districts will also be developed and sent to members of the task force.

Any designations of historic districts will be approved by Sidney City Council. Breinrich said the historic district could have different building codes which they have to meet than other areas of the city. That also would be decided by City Council.

Breinich also distributed Sidney’s downtown comprehensive plan for members to review.

Cundiff reminded members that this process will be like a marathon and not a short sprint to the finish line.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said.

In other business, the task force:

• Established meetings for the fourth Wednesday of each month at noon at The Bridge.

• Agreed the deadline for agenda items need to be to Chairman Amy Zorn 10 days in advance of each meeting;

• Learned Sarah Barr and Julie Gilardi, president of the Shelby County Historical Society, agreed to share the secretary duties.

• Learned Shawn Winn, Shelby County Building Department inspector, and Cindy Helman, partner in Money Concepts, attended the Central Ohio Code Officials Association meeting. Helman said an increased emphasis is being put on historic buildings because state and federal tax credits are available to help offset expenses of renovations for the buildings. She said one of the problems Sidney is facing is bringing the buildings up to code so the tax credits can be applied for.

• Learned the City Council approved membership as an affiliate in Heritage Ohio. Breinrich will serve as the point person for the task force and Heritage Ohio. A seminar will be held Oct. 5-7 in Columbus and a member or two might attend the meeting.

The task force’s next meeting will be Sept. 23 at noon at The Bridge.

By Melanie Speicher


Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.