Community input could help London nab $750,000 grant

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(Postsed Jan. 31, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London residents and city officials continue to meet to discuss improvements they would like to see in Ward 3 on the city’s south side. The purpose is to gather ideas and information to apply for state funding of up to $750,000.

The money is not guaranteed. Other cities and villages around the state also are vying for the funding, available as a neighborhood revitalization grant through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

For the best shot at obtaining the grant, London must present a strong vision for the improvements they would like to see and demonstrate community participation in the application process. The promise of “sweat equity” in the form of volunteer projects that benefit the area also reflects well on the application. A community cleanup, installation of little libraries, and Master Gardener services are among the possibilities that have been discussed.

“Things seem to be shaping up really well,” said Whitaker Wright of CDC of Ohio, the firm that administers Madison County’s CDBG funds.

Whitaker has led community meetings over the past several months, collecting input from residents. He also has collected ideas via a survey.

“We can’t fund everything that’s being asked for, so, in the meetings, we have honed down the list,” Wright said.

Among the ideas are installation of sidewalks for better access to Merri Mac Park, drainage and street improvements, a sewer relining project on one street, and installation of a pocket park on the Metropolitan Housing Authority property.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting if we can make this happen,” said Anthony Smith, Ward 3 city council representative. “We just need as much participation from folks that live in Ward 3 that we can possibly get just to help make sure we can get that grant.”

Council member Rich Hays noted that anyone in the city, whether or not they live in Ward 3, can be part of the process.

“Anyone in the city can be involved in this,” Hays said.

The next community meeting to discuss the Ward 3 grant application is set for March 5 at 10 a.m. at city hall, 20 S. Walnut St., London. Wright said he should have preliminary cost estimates at that time. He also plans to have large maps of the area on hand.

“I’ll be asking people to think about the history of the area… it gives some life to an application and makes it stand out to the reviewers,” he said.

The community input survey can be accessed at Ward 3 Revitalization Grant Survey. Surveys can be submitted through the end of March.

The grant application is due to the state in June.

For more information, call the mayor’s office at (740) 852-3243.

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