DWP initiative will be part of budget

The Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership (DWP) is getting the funds needed to start a program to improve the look of downtown buildings.

Wapakoneta City Council Finance Committee members agreed to set aside $10,000 in the 2013 city budget for a façade improvement program proposed by Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership in September. There will not be separate legislation, but they intend to set aside the $10,000 each year for the next three years as part of the budget process.

“I am very pleased that the Finance Committee has decided to move forward with this program and that there is money to do this program,” 3rd Ward Councilor and Finance Committee Chair Bonnie Wurst said after Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting. “I think it is appropriate for us to assist downtown business owners anyway we can. I hope this encourages downtown property owners to move forward on needed improvements.

“I also think it is good that DWP is willing to manage this program for the benefit of the city,” she said.

In September DWP representative Sue Siesel explained the reason for and how the grant program for façade improvement would work. The program “is intended to encourage building renovations that address blighting conditions by offering financial incentives to property owners who improve the exterior appearance of their downtown Wapakoneta buildings within the Façade Improvement Program area.”

The program would require a 50 percent match from the property or business owner, and the grant could not exceed $10,000.

The grant money would not be released until the improvements were completed and DWP staff would monitor to make sure the work is in compliance with the program.

DWP staff also would help property and business owners with securing other forms of grants and funding to help with façade improvements and other building renovations and enhancements.

The program gained the support of the remaining two members on the Finance Committee.

“I think it is important to support efforts to improve downtown Wapakoneta,” Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. said. “I think there request is reasonable.’

Wapakoneta 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier, who sought answers on the city’s participation in the razing of residences for blight, said this program is just as important for the improvement of city streets as racing homes.

“The argument used to justify the asbestos abatement can certainly be used to justify this program,” Neumeier said. “I definitely believe this is a worthwhile program that the city should support.”

The funds for the program will approved with the passage of the 2013 budget.