MOUNT VERNON — A follow-up meeting was held Monday at the Knox County Service Center among entities involved in the grant application process for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which provides slightly more than $1 million for the renovation or demolition of rundown residential structures in blighted neighborhoods.
The project is being administered by consultant Amy Shocken, with the assistance of Jason Booth of Knox Metropolitan Housing. The region covered by the program is Ohio Region 9, consisting of Knox County, the city of Mount Vernon, and Richland County, excluding the city of Mansfield. The city of Mount Vernon is acting as fiscal agent for the program.
Officials meeting with the Knox County Commissioners included Bob Lafferty, Joe Gies and Phil Curren, from the city of Shelby; Mark McDaniel, a trustee from Madison Township in Richland County; and Richland County Commissioner Ed Olson and Ted Stiffler of the Richland County Regional Planning Commission. Mount Vernon was represented by Mayor Richard Mavis and City Auditor Terry Scott.
Shocken said the suggestions furnished by participants confirmed four target areas in the district. First is the western end of Mount Vernon, including the Columbus Road area. Second is the village of Danville. In Richland County, the west side of Shelby is targeted, as is the Roseland neighborhood of Madison Township. Identification of the properties to be selected will take place before June 30, 2010, with benchmarks set along the way.
Shocken said the first step in identifying structures to be targeted for demolition is to have them officially condemned. McDaniels said that although Madison Township had code enforcement, it would have to involve the Richland County Health Department if condemnations were involved. Shocken said NSP regulations were absolute on that point. McDaniels wondered if it would be possible for the township to buy three empty properties along Poth Road, on the very edge of the Roseland neighborhood, which are expected to be foreclosed upon, in order to demolish them and turn the area into a park. Shocken said regulations prohibited buying the properties via sheriff’s sale.
McDaniels said much of the demolition in his township is handled in-house by township road crews. He asked if they would handle it the same way in this program. According to Shocken, all demolition would be contracted out by the City of Mount Vernon as lead agent for the program, and that Mount Vernon would probably prefer to batch demolition jobs with regional companies for the best possible price.
Olson asked if his county would be able to recover any back taxes on properties purchased for demolition; Shocken said this was not allowed by the regulations. In answer to whether any program profit was possible, Shocken replied that the intention of the program was not to create any internal profits for any of theentities. She said funds could not be leveraged by combining them with funds from other programs.
The draft of the initial grant fulfillment request will be published later this week in area newspapers and Web sites.