NP seeking funding for park project

By Kelsey Kimbler -

NEW PARIS — During their meeting on Monday, July 1, New Paris Council discussed ways to fund their ongoing park project at the Old Jefferson Township School Building. Council also agreed to seek additional and updated numbers on the abatement of the school building.

Susan Laux with Mote & Associates and New Paris Mayor Kathy Smallwood recently had a meeting with representatives from the Ohio Water Development Authority and the Ohio Development Services Agency. During that meeting, they talked about potential programs available to help the village demolish that building.

Laux also received a phone call from Senator Steve Huffman, who indicated his gratitude for the capital money the village received. He added, he would help the village secure additional funds if he could.

She also spoke with Representative J. Todd Smith’s office about applying for Community Development Block Grant Money (CDBG), but, according to Laux, the CDBG Program does not have money for park development.

“The feeling is that the village needs to have some skin in the game, so to speak,” Laux said.

She also discussed different loans the village could pursue and look into. Ultimately, she suggested the village check with its bank to see if it would offer a good interest rate.

Laux asked council if it would be willing to take money away from street repair to focus on the park project and fund it.

“What are your priorities?” she asked. “You will have to decide is it worth trying to put some of those funds towards the park, or is that not what you feel is the most advantageous for the community?”

There was also discussion about a private entity having interest in putting a health care facility in the Village of New Paris.

“Don’t really know how serious that is. I reached out to a couple people and I’ve yet to hear back from them about it. I know the Mayor and I talked about whether you would consider selling off the section to the North, maybe a swipe of property along Walnut Street, and maybe a little bit along Spring, or maybe not because the shelter is there. Maybe that might help garner some funds to put towards the demolition of the building. Don’t know that an opportunity exists — we’re still trying to find the right doors to knock on,” she said.

“I think you need to think about if it is worth trying to go back for some remediation bids, so we can get a little better handle on that remediation level. That $250,000 number is about five years old. I don’t feel like the demolition number has changed that much, which is $100,000 to $150,000. I think we need to think if it is worth trying to move forward with just the remediation piece and trying to get something out of the way.”

Mayor Smallwood added, they are trying to find ways to avoid borrowing $200,000, but it seems like “there is not much left available.” It might be worth it to try removing the building before pursing money for the establishment of the park.

“Looking ahead, it would be a lot easier to get money for the park improvement after that building is gone. I think people would be willing to do that,” Smallwood said.

Council agreed to allow Laux to continue looking into the potential health care facility and see if they would be interested in purchasing part of the land by the old school building. They also approved a motion to seek new remediation numbers.

When asked their opinions on eventually seeking a loan, council indicated that they would be interested if it came to that.

“We’ve borrowed money for other things,” council member Ralph Dungan said. “I’m not afraid to borrow money.”

“I think it seems the general consensus is that we will look wherever we can and if we have to borrow, let’s get it down as low as we can and do it,” Smallwood said.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH