The Hope Town Council adopted a downtown revitalization plan for the community last week -- a step meant to make it possible for the town to apply for even more grant money to spruce up the area around the Town Square.
The project, organized by Main Street of Hope, includes proposals for many improvement projects. Susan Thayer-Fye, director of the not-for-profit group told the Town Council last week that the goal is economic development.
"We do not have a high industrial base here, but we do have an amazing group of volunteers and about half of the audience is Main Street tonight, here for this," she said.
"Main Street is a kind of bottom-up organization, started and maintained by volunteers and we are lucky to have the best group. Columbus would kill for what we have."
The Town will use the study in its application for $400,000 to $500,000 in grant money from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. But she said that the town isn't obligated to complete any of the proposed projects.
"When we get this done, and we go to funding, so do you have to do all of it? No," Thayer-Fye said. "What do you have to do with it? Nothing. Zero. You don't have to do a thing with it.
"This study was commissioned by the Town Council because they wanted to see some potentials. Some ideas of what could be done for economic development."
She said some of the proposed projects are clearly of higher community interest and support than others. Among the ideas:
Downtown walking tour and phone app with tour information.
Historic building plaques.
Replacing and standardizing benches and planters around the square.
Better lighting in and around the square.
Improvements to the shelter house and bandstand including new roofing.
Creating a tree board to consider and improve the choice of trees on city property.
The Town Council accepted the plan unanimously.
In other business, the Hope Town Council:
Heard an update from Town Marshal Matt Tallent about application for a grant to fund a new police officer position. Tallent said that this year the town was partnering with Flat Rock-Hawcreek Schools to provide an officer who would also be a school-resource officer.
Heard an update from Town Manager J.T. Doane about the trash properties ordinance. Doane said 42 properties had been cited since the ordinance went into effect this spring. Two property owners have not cleaned up their properties and the town is working with its attorney, Cindy Boll, to levy and collect the $25 a day fines allowed under the ordinance.
Approved a new ordinance organizing the use of the entire Hope Town Square for community events. The council declined a recommendation to only approve a single large community event in the entire town at the same time. That suggestion grew out of the Community Center of Hope's fair ride event during last year's Hope Heritage Days. But council members said they did not believe they should control events outside of town property. Groups using the Town Square for large events must also provide a certificate of insurance. However that would not be required for smaller, family-size events such as birthday parties.
Agreed to apply for state grant funds through the Community Crossings program for street repairs. The town is applying for about $285,000 in grant money, with a match of about $70,000. Council President Clyde Compton said that the town will have recently repaired and resurfaced about 41 percent of its streets, if that grant is approved.
Approved a request for an Economic Development Income Tax fund grant for $22,000 for Heritage of Hope for Heritage Days entertainment and activities, including $1,000 more than requested for a 50th anniversary heritage contest for local not-for-profit groups.
Approved request for and EDIT fund grant of $3,000 for HSJ Online for operating costs for the website and for the content coordinator to attend a Local Independent Online News publisher's conference to be held in Chicago in October.
Approved the use of the Hope Town Square for the 50th anniversary Hope Heritage Days for Sept. 22th, 23rd and 24th and for the annual Arts and Antiques Fair from 9 to 3 on August 27th put on by the Hope Chamber of Commerce.
Approved plan to advertise to hire a new animal control officer for the town. Lisa Hughes is moving out of town and has resigned.