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12/28/2018 11:50:00 AM
Funding uncertain for another downtown Marion revitalization plan

Clay Winowiecki, Chronicle-Tribune

Funding for one downtown revitalization plan remains uncertain.

The Grant County Economic Growth Council hired Scott Burgins of SB Research and Planning to develop a downtown revitalization plan for Marion. At the time the expected cost of the plan was $18,000. Yet, this figure is subject to change according to Tim Eckerle, executive director of the Growth Council. 

"The scope of work has yet to be agreed upon by all parties involved in downtown," Eckerle said.

As of now, Burgins has been paid $3,000 by the Growth Council for his work, he added.

However, in November, Growth Council members raised concern about paying for the project with Growth Council money.

Tim Street, former Growth Council president and current Bahr Brothers Manufacturing president, feared the Growth Council was "on the hook," financially for this project. Eckerle said at that time the City of Marion has had a total of eight downtown plans, two of which have been adopted by the city. "If we've had eight others, what makes this one any different?" Street asked him. "The difference is going to be collective ownership of this plan," Eckerle said. "But still, even if it's successful, it will still be plan number nine."

But whether collective ownership will mean collective funding remains to be seen.

The downtown plan is part of a larger goal to compete for a grant from Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), worth up to $600,000, to revitalize the downtown area. The revitalization plan that Burgins is working on is a requirement to apply for the grant.

While Burgins has been paid initially by the Growth Council, there is no signed contract for further work to be done, Eckerle said.

The Growth Council director said he is unsure if Burgins is still working on the plan, or if he has stopped, and that any further payments would be up to Growth Council board members.

A group of organizations with vested interest in downtown revitalization have been meeting as a Downtown Marion Revitalization Impact Grant group, run by the Community Foundation of Grant County.

"(Our discussions) have been more focused on Scott's abilities and his proposal and just trying to figure out if there's a way to pay him," said Heidi Peterson, executive director of Main Street Marion.

The impact grant group is made up of 10 different organizations such as Main Street Marion, Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County, the Growth Council, the City of Marion, the Grant County Historical Society and Marion Design Co.

"These organizations have been provided seed money by the Community Foundation to work on revitalization plans for downtown," Peterson said.

She added that Main Street Marion has not been approached for funding, but it does not have the funding to pay Burgins, if asked.

Copyright 2019 Chronicle-Tribune

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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