Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2003

Downtowners trying to form association

June 5, 2003

The next step in securing Eudora a downtown redevelopment grant is starting a downtown association, grant specialist Donna Crawford told city leaders and business owners at Tuesday night's study session.

The handful of business and property owners at the meeting expressed interest in participating in a civic group concerned specifically with downtown. They also discussed ways in which they might get more property and business owners involved, especially those who haven't attended study sessions. Property owner Tim DeArmond asked how the private sector would be able to decide whether it could meet the matching funds requirement of the grant without all business and property owners' input.

Pam Trefz Staab said it might take some neighborly outreach from those already involved, and having a concrete plan -- the infrastructure scheme revealed in April --might make it easier to pitch.

"This is going to take a lot of local activism on your part," said Eudora City Administrator Mike Yanez.

Yanez said he would have city personnel begin talking with downtown neighbors as well as talking to the Chamber of Commerce about cooperation. He said the goal of the downtown association wasn't to infringe on the Chamber's scope but rather to narrow the focus to downtown.

Grant specialist Crawford said the grant application process --which must be complete by October to meet this year's deadline -- also required a special board and someone to lead the process who didn't have a special interest in the city or business community. Yanez also suggested the city look into using a professional grant administrator to lead the effort and wade through the inches of paperwork required.

Even though the city has just four months to get everything in order to apply for the non-competitive grant, Tuesday's meeting brought out sentiments that low interest rates and competitive labor prices made now an ideal time to pursue the grant. Mayor Ron Conner said he didn't want to see the push for a grant dropped and needing to be picked up again, as it had in the past.

"I think if we keep the momentum going, we can get the up-front stuff done," he said.

At the meeting, Crawford also answered specific questions business and property owners had about the grant, including whether upgrades to businesses and property done before securing the grant would count toward the matching funds total. Crawford said the Kansas Department of Housing and Commerce only considered as matching funds those improvements done after securing the grant.

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