Magnetic Springs has been awarded $500,000 as part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. More than half of the grant will go toward street improvements, including milling, repair and resurfacing for Rose and East Magnetic streets; reconstructing the Olive Street loop of Catherine Street to the north, Olive Street to the east, and Park Street to the south; and the addition of guardrails in the Olive Street loop and along north May Street.
Magnetic Spring is getting half a million dollars to help revitalize the village.
County and village officials recently learned that Magnetic Springs had been awarded $500,000 as part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Neighborhood Revitalization Grant.
“We did a lot of work to accomplish this, said Mayor Kathy Cantrell. “We worked all summer and it was just really exciting to get the news on this.”
Each grant cycle, the CDBG program offers the neighborhood revitalization grants to help fund projects with low and moderate income residents. The grants often cover needed projects that don’t fit into many other guidelines.
Whitaker Wright, senior planner with CDC of Ohio Inc., wrote the grant for the village. He complimented Cantrell and the entire village for the work that went into the grant request. He said village officials tried to make sure every resident had a chance to contribute to the grant plan.
“They worked really, really hard on this as a village,” Wright said.
He said officials held several public meetings, even holding weekend meetings for those unable to attend evening meetings.
“They really made a point of getting involved, being involved and getting others involved,” Wright said. “It was fun. It is always enjoyable to be part of a village with people this committed to helping themselves.”
The grant will fund a variety of projects in the village including park facilities, street repair, eliminating drainage concerns and sidewalk replacement.
Wright said more than half of the grant will go toward street improvements, noting that roadways have not been repaved since the 1990’s.
Wright said village officials evaluated condition and traffic of every street in Magnetic Springs to prioritize need. Officials selected Rose and East Magnetic streets for milling, repair and resurfacing.
The “Olive Street Loop” will also be reconstructed. The loop consists of Catherine Street to the north, Olive Street to the east, and Park Street to the south.
“They literally paved an old carriage lane,” Wright said. “It was never designed for automobile traffic. It isn’t appropriate for that.”
He said that on one of the turns in the loop, a large tree has grown and drivers need to swerve around it.
A guardrail will be added to the loop. A second guardrail, along with curve warning signs, will be added along north May Street.
Wright said there was a fatality on May Street several years ago and the road becomes difficult during inclement weather. He said residents requested the guardrails.
About one quarter of the grant will go to address flooding in the north end of the village. Wright said a pair of trunk lines connect just south of Magnetic Street and then discharge into Bokes Creek.
“The connecting line is undersized and it acts as a choke point,” Wright said.
The too-small-line will be replaced with a larger line as well as two manholes and a new headwall.
Sidewalk along West Park, West Catherine and Main streets will also be replaced. Wright said sidewalks in Magnetic Springs date from the late 19th Century. The sidewalks are broken and badly heaved. Wright said the sidewalk condition creates an unsafe situation for children waiting at the school bus stops and pedestrians in the area.
“A lot of people asked us about that and about getting the sidewalks fixed,” Wright said.
Another area of public concern that will be addressed with the grant will be the
Wright said residents, particularly families with children, discussed recreation facilities in the community. He said there are playgrounds in the community, but few outside gathering and picnic spots.
Grant money will be used to purchase and install two benches, a grill and two ADA-compliant picnic tables at the village park, located along Main Street.
The neighborhood revitalization grant is a competitive program. As part of the effort to improve village odds of receiving the grant, the village committed to raising money to fund indoor recreation space to be used for, “afterschool activities and for family gatherings during inclement weather.”
Officials said they are planning to raise about $40,000 to rehabilitate the garage space in Village Hall and convert it into a community center. The project will include a new floor, a partition wall to separate the community room from the garage space, new lighting, painting and additional heating vents.
“They are going to have to raise the money for this,” Wright said. “It is a big project, but they have felt like they have needed this for a while and that they can use this as an opportunity to get it done.”
As part of the matching contributions, three buildings — 38 Main Street, a vacant commercial property that has been repeatedly vandalized; 59 Rose Street, a vacant boarding house that is the site of illegal dumping; and, 26 E. Magnetic Street, a vacant residence that is harboring rodents — will be demolished.
“We have the owners’ permission for that,” Wright said. “These are fire hazards as well and in a village with no fire department, anytime you can eliminate a hazard like this, it benefits the village.”
Wright said he is working on an environmental review for the projects. He said that given the proximity to Bokes Creek, that stage could take longer. He said he hopes to have that completed and engineer approval by the end of the year. He said he believes some of the projects could be completed as early as next year.
The grant writer said village officials and residents did a good job prioritizing the projects and asking for money to fund them.
“We looked at a whole lot of things and we started with a whole basket of ideas and looked at them and said, ‘What is the greatest need? What is reasonable to accomplish in this round?’” Wright said. “They did a good job of identifying what is important.”
Officials said they will likely apply for additional CDBG money in the future to help the revitalization effort.
“We have so much to do,” Cantrell said. “We have to start at the bottom and move up.”
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