LEWISBURG — The Downtown Lewisburg Revitalization project has not yet met its quota for building rehabilitation and is quickly running out of funds to do so. As a solution, funds from the sidewalk repair will be transferred into the building rehabilitation fund in order to fulfill the agreement with the state.
Lewisburg Village Manager Jeff Sewert and Susan Laux with Mote & Associates, Inc. attended the Preble County Commission meeting on Monday, Nov. 27, to provide an update and present their request for the transfer of funds.
“They asked to come in and talk, because we are fast getting to the end of the funding we have in the grant for the building rehab work,” commission Administrative Assistant Kim Keller said. “We still have two projects that haven’t even bid out yet. We’re looking at maybe $70,000 total for those two projects and I have, maybe, $15,000 left. At this point, it doesn’t look like we are going to get those done. [Sewert and Laux] were hoping to talk about some way we could accomplish that.”
Laux said, “We’ve done a lot and have done very well. We are at 12 buildings, when we have to be at 15 in order to meet that grant requirement. In the actual grant agreement it says 15 buildings. Our original proposal was 20 buildings, but when Keller wrote the grant she wrote it with 15 buildings so we were sure we could meet our requirements, and we could go over if we had the funds.
“We also have seven buildings that we have not taken applications from, but they are interested in being in the program. They’ve gotten cost estimates. So, we could end up with 19 buildings. There are also an additional two buildings that we have had discussion with. As you can see, this has become a great project for Lewisburg. We have taken two buildings that are vacant that are now going to be filled. Additionally, there was a building that was sold and changed owners.
“There are going to be a lot of great things going on downtown and we anticipate more come summer.”
She explained, they’re proposing to move money out of the sidewalk repair line item and into building rehabilitation. They have sidewalk already, and won’t be removing all of the repair, but they intend to make up the difference on their own dime. Commission President Chris Day pointed out that sidewalk repair could be cheaper if done internally, anyway.
The proposal would be for the commissioners to consider approving a move of $35,000 for building rehabilitation. The other option, Laux explained, would be moving additional money in case they spend it.
Keller explained officials would have to talk to the state and have a public hearing, since they would be removing part of the approved-upon project.
Laux responded, her biggest worry is the amount of buildings, since she is afraid they might not make the grant agreement requirements. Keller pointed out there is 10 percent lieu way in the agreement — as long as they get within 10 percent of the 15 buildings, the state should not have a problem.
“I don’t have a problem in trying to work this out. I think you guys need to be sure that you are communicating, so everyone is on the same page,” Day said. “You have a month to make this happen. So, Merry Christmas. I don’t think it is that big of deal, but it is going to have to move very quickly.”
He asked Laux if she could have a plan before Christmas, and she said she could. Keller cautioned her to be careful with accepting some of the smaller downtown revitalization projects.
Laux suggested moving more money, and Keller agreed, as the state will only approve the change once.
“It really has been a great program for Lewisburg. There has been a great change to the downtown,” Laux said.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH