MOUNT VERNON — It wasn’t March Madness but a small group of west side residents worked Tuesday in bracket fashion to narrow down a list of 25 possible grant projects to help the city prepare for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant application due this summer.
The group went through a list developed over the course of two Brown Bag Chats at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County to determine which projects residents would like to see in their neighborhoods.
Overwhelmingly, the small group agreed that paving and drainage upgrades on West High Street should be the top priority. Following heavy rains, deep water wells accumulate where some side streets intersect with High Street because the state highway sits much lower.
“This would really benefit everyone,” said one resident.
Alley maintenance was another hot topic for residents. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis explained the city is waiting for the ground to dry out before it can bring out its maintainer to level out the potholes.
“The water holes look like small lakes,” Mavis said. “It wouldn’t do any good to move the mud around.”
Residents would like to see some kind of top coating placed on the alleys like gravel or even recycled milling from paving projects to create a nice driving surface that keeps mud build-up down.
Adding water shut-off valves is also on the priority list. The older sections of the city have fewer shut-off valves which mean more residents would lose water service in the event water would need to be turned off in order to do repairs, Mavis said.
A new shelter house at Riverside Park make it to the final round of projects. The proposed idea for the park came about after city officials realized the pavilion at Riverside Park was the most requested shelter in the city. Adding an additional shelter, as well as more handicap accessible parking at the site of the old horseshoe pits would provide another venue for family functions.
Adding a community garden to Arch Park as well as new signage was also on the priority list. Residents said upgrades to the park will make it more attractive and they hope city residents will realize what a gem the small park could be.
Continued efforts to clean up the west side of dilapidated and neglected structures rounded out the top six possible candidates. Although this is a continued function of the Dilapidated Buildings Commission in the city, residents felt it is important to continue to clean up the neighborhood to bring more pride in ownership to the area.
The meeting was facilitated by Whitaker Wright, a representative of CDC of Ohio which is assisting the city with gathering information from residents. Wright helped residents prioritize options in four categories: parks and recreation, sidewalks, streets and area wide. Because there was very little interest in sidewalk upgrades, that category was eliminated from contention.
“Here is a group of residents who went back and forth sorting the options by pairs,” Wright said. “Now we have six projects the city can look at.
The city will now work to create cost estimates for the proposed projects.