By Jacob Mahaffey
Improvements of the building variety are slated for downtown Millersburg.
Holmes County Commissioners recently announced that they were awarded a grant totaling $300,000 to help revitalize downtown Millersburg. According to Holmes County Planner Arnie Oliver, the funds come from the State of Ohio through their Community Development Block Grant program. “It’s called the Downtown Revitalization Grant,” he explained.
The grant provides funding for improvements to communities. “It’s designed to focus specifically on downtown,” Oliver pointed out. “The funds have to be used for system types of things on buildings downtown.” Those works could include HVAC, plumbing, or roofing among others.
“Another focus of the grant is façade improvements,” Oliver continued. “If the building owner wants to have the façade returned to its original condition the funds can be used to help that.”
The only stipulation to use funds for that purpose is that the building has to be returned to original condition. “This has to be approved through the states Historic Preservation office,” Oliver added. “Any renovations are to be historically accurate.”
While Holmes County applied for the grant there is another stakeholder in the grant. “The other piece of this requires a commitment from the building owners and businesses in the downtown,” Oliver stated. “So, they signed on to the grant saying they are interested in receiving this grant.”
The grant itself is 50/50. This means that for any monies local businesses want to use they have to provide 50 percent matching. So, if a project would cost $100,000 the business would need to provide $50,000.
The idea to go for the grant was a collective effort between Historic Downtown Millersburg, the County Commissioners, County Planning and the Village of Millersburg.
The grant application itself is pretty intensive. “It’s actually a pretty onerous application,” Oliver said. “It required a lot of prep work to put it in.” It is also a very popular grant. “It’s very competitive,” Oliver continued.
While the grant award has been announced, the funds will take some time to come in. “They have to do an environmental review,” Oliver said. “I’m thinking it will be five to six months.”
With the announcement of this grant and the soon to be completed courthouse lawn project, the focus really appears to be on the revitalization of downtown Millersburg. “Everybody’s really excited about the prospects of downtown Millersburg continuing to become more economically vital and stable,” Oliver shared enthusiastically. “We’ve had a lot of investment in downtown, a lot of private investment in downtown. There’s opportunities for investors now.”
One of those opportunities could be in real estate itself. Hidden above the store fronts on the second and third floors of the downtown buildings there are apartments, which could be fixed up using part of the money available from the grant. “Anytime you can add people and residents to the downtown, it contributes to the energy of that place,” Oliver said.
Another addition to the downtown is a planned Gateway to Downtown at the intersection of Clay and Washington. “Creating a nice entrance into downtown,” Oliver explained is a plus for the community.
Holmes County is definitely looking to make sure Downtown Millersburg stays vibrant and viable for years to come. “We need to thank those who were involved in securing this grant, the County Commissioners, Courthouse Lawn Project, and the Village of Millersburg,” Oliver said.
A committee will be formed to rate and score different proposed projects, but this has not yet been developed.
Nate Troyer, Millersburg’s Village Administrator and Historic Downtown Millersburg Director, Judy Lamp assisted Oliver with gathering data needed to complete the application. Holmes County Engineer Chris Young was also involved in the process.
This story originally appeared in the October 3, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.