Uptown Circleville brings two ideas to council committee | News

CIRCLEVILLE — Uptown Circleville has made two requests to the City of Circleville to improve the downtown area.

Richard Gerhardt and Richard Rhodes, both members of the Uptown Circleville Board of Directors, made two separate presentations to the Circleville City Council Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening.

Gerhardt first presented a proposal to include a scenic location of a bench, changes to curbs on South Court Street near Main Street, and the proposal to reinstate a town clock.

“We ask the council to join us in a partnership in a great improvement in the downtown district,” Gerhardt said. “This is a follow-up to our meeting last fall where we presented ideas for the revitalization of Court and Main Street. Today’s plans are both reduced and at the same time improved from what we discussed with you last fall.

Gerhardt went on to explain that the plan he presents calls for increasing curb space from the sidewalk to the first parking spot on South Court Street, creating a sculpture bench and laying down some of the original Nelsonville bricks on the sidewalk to create an outline of 1810. , which sits on top of the brick layer that was the original street before it was covered in asphalt.

“The revitalization will create a real synergy with the two existing downtown murals, Pumpkin Show Park and the walkway to Pumpkin Show Park with the upcoming closure of Circle Alley next to Sharff’s,” said Gerhardt.

Gerhardt went on to explain that Uptown Circleville had already received much of the funding for the project and was asking the city to donate street, utility, and construction work for the project instead of directly contributing funds.

“It’s a win-win for many reasons,” Gerhardt said of the project. “It will give all of us community pride and spirit as it will look great and also remind us of our historic roots dating back to 1810, a great place to work, live and play. It improves the environment and appearance of the city center and will help merchants to market and attract customers.

“It will make our town center more attractive for activities and other events, complementing the Pumpkin Show Park and the downtown murals – creating a fun place for [Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area] activities, the 3 on 3 basketball tournament, sidewalk beers, Santa’s Day, car shows, farmers markets and so many other activities old and new.”

Following Gerhardt’s presentation, the committee voted to forward the measure to the service committee where they can begin the next steps in the process, including writing more concrete engineering plans and considering what it would take to make them. a reality.

Rhodes approached the board and requested funding of $30,000 per year in perpetuity for an Uptown Circleville director, which would make Circleville a full participant in Hertigage Ohio’s Main Street program.

According to the Heritage Ohio website on the program, the Ohio Main Street program, administered by Heritage Ohio, works with communities across the state to revitalize their historic or traditional business areas.

The Main Street program is designed to improve all aspects of the downtown or central business district, producing tangible and intangible benefits. Improving economic management, enhancing public participation, honoring historic preservation and beautification, and making the downtown area a pleasant place to visit are key to attracting new businesses and residents.

Rhodes said he wants to hire the person full-time, at around $65,000 to $75,000 a year plus benefits, to help work with downtown businesses and landlords to address concerns and needs. They would fund the rest of the salary and benefits through their events and hopefully through potential grant opportunities.

Rhodes spoke about the two phases of the Main Street program in Circleville, as Circleville was granted affiliate status following a study of the downtown area several years ago. The group has been working to revitalize the downtown area, such as planters, events and other things to attract attention, which is part of the first phase of the initiative.

“We are now in phase two, which is going to require an executive director because a motley group of us are burning out on these projects and we don’t have time to spend 40 hours a week walking the streets, talking to the owner companies, communicating with the chamber, the visitors office and anyone trying to row the boat that’s on the lake,” he said.

Rhodes provided a sample job description, mission statement and more information to the committee before “going through the highlights.”

“This position will be work from home as this person needs to be on the streets and not sitting behind a desk,” he said. “He is a person who walks on the ground. We have decided as a board of directors that we will also have no membership fees so that no one is left out. Basically, all business owners, building owners, and everyone else in the Uptown neighborhood will have our full attention.

Rhodes then said that led to his request he made.

“We have the 3-on-3 tournament, we park perfectly a…basically we’re sitting at $20,000 in our general fund and we’ll have about $30,000 to $35,000 in revenue expected from our projects this year we’re doing and we’ll probably find something else to do as well,” he said. “But we’re going to need someone making $65,000 to $75,000 with benefits.”

Rhodes said the request was annual and that this person would be doing something that is not the city’s job.

“It’s not the city’s job to make improvements for businesses, it’s the city’s job to structure the downtown core with policies that make things happen,” he said. “It’s the community that has to take care of the rest. If you were to take on a project like we want to do, you would need two to three full-time people and that’s not what you have to do.

Rhodes said the person would be a “congruent piece” between the city, the Downtown Business Alliance, the Pickaway County Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Bureau and more to help everyone “row in the same direction.” .

“That person being in stores and meeting with building owners daily, they’re going to find the little issues that come up and take action,” he said. “For example, when we were doing the DORA, [Nathan Wilson, Visitors Bureau executive director] we learned of a problem that this person could solve. Just outside Two Old Broads and a Geezer there was a loading area instead of a parking space. They’ve got big things they’re pushing and need space to load up and [the owner] complained about it. The manager will have the resources to talk to the people they need and solve those small business issues along the way.

Rhodes acknowledged that they hadn’t applied for any funding in the past five years because they didn’t have the traction, but now that they did, they felt it was time to apply. .

“We have the members, the means and we are moving at a rapid pace,” he said. “As for the downtown buildings, we’ve had five internally renovated, rents are going up and renting out those that aren’t owner-occupied, there’s been three or four buildings painted over the last few years. last two years. What we’re doing is settling in, taking effect, and we’d like to have a full-time director to just round up the cats.

The council asked some questions about the measure, including whether the position could be combined with other similar positions such as director of the chamber of commerce or director of the visitors’ office, which Rhodes said was probably not. not long term due to the nature of the job being a full 40 hour work week.

Following Rhodes’ comments, council voted to forward the request to the city council’s finance committee who will determine if there is funding in the budget and how the request could be fulfilled in whole or in part.

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