Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2005

Beatty, city to renew pursuit of state grant

August 25, 2005

Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty has the backing of the city council to undertake the first big administrative project of her city tenure.

She will try to secure a downtown improvement grant for the 2007-2008 state budget year.

In order to shore up the weaknesses of the last downtown revitalization proposal, Beatty suggested a two-fold approach looking to strengthen the city's commitment in the eyes of those awarding the grants.

First, however, Beatty suggested expanding the scale of the project.

"I am suggesting that we look at our downtown area as more than just the one-block area, because it is a downtown corridor -- more than just one block," Beatty said.

The current proposal for the corridor would stretch from Sixth Street to 10th Street, allowing one block on either side.

Beatty said much of the work for the grant proposal is already accomplished, as far as photos and maps and other schematic information of the city. Now she's looking to start getting support from the city to fix the two main failings of the first proposal.

The first reason the previous proposal fell short was because the judges didn't think the business owners would put in the time necessary to beautify their storefronts.

The city would have several options available to them to remedy the issue.

One option would give property owners a tax break if they spent a pre-ordained amount of money on beautification, Beatty said. The focus would be on providing the business owners a viable reason to make downtown look better.

"This is an incentive program," Beatty said. "We'll give them an incentive then we'll strongly encourage it."

Eudora's grant proposal also suffered because the business owners lacked a concrete commitment to the project in the form of letters.

"The state officials are looking for letters of commitment," Beatty said.

In order to get that commitment, Beatty suggested a meeting with all the business owners, followed up with more one-on-one contact.

Beatty's plan has already garnered support of the Eudora Chamber of Commerce and the city council.

"I think we're moving in the right direction because I thought it wasn't a good representation for the city of Eudora," Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said.

"I don't think the citizens found it very appealing."

Councilman Dan Gregg shared a similar sentiment.

"I think there might have been some flaws with the ways we started, but at least we got the ball rolling and it got us to this point," Gregg said.

Rep. Anthony Brown attended the meeting and vocally supported the renewed project.

He also offered a limited official perspective to the council.

"It depends how big the dream is downtown," Brown said. "If it's something that will legitimately help the economy of the state of Kansas, we will seriously look at it."

The grant proposal will be due to the state in November. The first meeting will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Beatty's office in the basement of City Hall, 4 East Seventh St.

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