Swanton to pursue downtown improvements

By Drew Stambaugh - dstambaugh@aimmediamidwest.com

Swanton Village Council last week approved a resolution to create the Swanton Downtown Design Review Board. The resolution approved June 24 also adopted standards for rehabilitation.

Funds will be sought from the State of Ohio’s Target of Opportunity Downtown Revitalization program. A letter of intent to participate from the Village was due July 1.

“Part of new requirements [for the program] include having a downtown design review board as well as adopting standards for rehabilitation,” said Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle. “Most communities are adopting the Secretary of Interior standards for rehabilitation.”

It was approved as an emergency measure due to the tight time frame.

“This kind of came up fairly quickly to identify possible projects that would be potentially good candidates for this,” said Hoelzle.

The resolution was approved unanimously, but a second resolution to support a letter of intent for the downtown revitalization program was approved only as a first reading, after concerns were voiced by Councilman Craig Rose.

He said he is a big supporter of downtown revitalization but would like to see it as a broad revitalization rather than starting with a few businesses.

“I don’t agree with the way that this is going,” he said. “A lot of businesses have already put a lot of money of their own and revitalized their own businesses. They revitalized their own buildings.”

Mayor Ann Roth replied that nothing has been discounted.

“This is simply a starting point to, hopefully, get us going in the right direction,” she said. “It’s probably something that should have been done 30 or 40 years ago.”

Switchback Cafe moving into the former Elks building, and Benfield Wines moving in at the corner of Main Street and Zeiter Way were two projects that village officials knew about when discussions began in the spring, which is part of why they were selected, according to Hoelzle.

“What we were told about this program from Columbus is there is only so much money and they are going to give money to applications that are going to have the biggest impact,” she said.

Hoelzle added that village officials acknowledge that other businesses have already committed their own money for projects in the downtown area and mentioned the possibility of an internal program, similar to one used in Tiffin, to help fund other improvements.

With Michael Rochelle absent, there were not enough votes for an emergency measure, but the first reading of the resolution passed 4-1, with Rose voting no.

Also at the meeting, Council approved emergency resolutions to support the creation of a Fulton County Land Bank and adopt the Lucas County EMA Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Other business

• Some items in the Garfield Avenue Bridge project remain to be completed. They include reseeding, removing rocks and concrete from yards, and relocation of utility poles.

• Hoelzle told council the Adopt a Bench program has six of eight benches claimed.

• Village officials have generated cost recovery forms related to the train derailment and submitted to the Fulton County EMA. Damage to roads and curbs will be submitted once clean up is completed. Mayor Roth reported that she was told Norfolk Southern has been unable to find a second crew to work on clean up, slowing the process.

• The Swanton Shines tree lighting ceremony has been scheduled for Nov. 29.

• Bradley Cash was approved as a full-time patrolman.


By Drew Stambaugh