Danville to give grants to downtown businesses impacted by construction; City approves funding for Weisiger fountain
Published 5:51 pm Friday, December 2, 2022
The City of Danville will be issuing grants of up to $10,000 to businesses impacted by the Downtown Streetscape Project. The grants will be for businesses on Main Street and some directly adjacent to Main Street.
The grants will help with potential revenue losses due to sidewalk or utility construction in front of businesses. Although sidewalks are open during construction, the city has acknowledged that less people are willing to park and walk downtown during construction.
City Manager Earl Coffey explained at the Danville city commission meeting on Monday that Christmas is a busy shopping time, and those businesses may not be as busy as usual due to the project.
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“We think it’s the right thing to do given the timing of construction being so close to Christmas, and this is, for a lot of folks, their peak season,” Coffey said. “Other communities have done a similar grant program to mitigate impacts, and it depends on the degree of the impact.”
Finance Director Leigh Compton explained that they specified an area that’s been impacted. Businesses can submit an application, and may be given up to $10,000 of relief based on location and how much revenue loss they’ve sustained through the project.
Not all businesses will be eligible for the full grant. Businesses are required to submit documentation by the end of January. Total spending will be capped at $225,000.
The grants will come from the city’s general fund, but will not take money from other services or increase taxes. The commission approved an allocation of $225,000 of federal ARPA money for services they already budgeted for in the general fund.
This way, the city will use its own money for the grants without increasing its budget, and use ARPA money for what would otherwise be from the general fund. Compton said ARPA funds can cover things like police salaries, on-going city services, road building and maintenance, and some capital projects.
The commission approved funding for a new fountain at Weisiger Park. Since the designers at Gresham Smith made a cost estimate for that project earlier this year, material and construction costs have risen.
City Engineer Josh Morgan said the current price for the fountain project is $278,872. But if they use concrete instead of granite on the fountain, it will be $263,872.
Morgan said costs will only continue to rise, and the project is most cost-effective to do while construction is already happening on the streetscape.
About half the cost will cover a paver area with bench wall seating. The seating will be around a new three-tier fountain that will be eight feet tall. It will integrate the fountain into the street more prominently.
Coffey said when the current fountain was built years ago, the project’s overall cost was majorly reduced by about $400,000. This led to a fountain that was less impressive than intended. Coffey explained that they will still be spending less than the money that was originally intended for the fountain.
“I realize it’s a lot of money, but it’s going to speak very loudly,” Mayor Mike Perros said. “It’s going to draw a lot of folks downtown.”
The city will be filing a foreclosure lawsuit on a vacant lot at 315 Baughman Ave. The city hopes to acquire the property for a possible stormwater project or future park.
Morgan said the city has been maintaining the property and filing liens, and had previously demolished a building there. He said they have almost $18,000 of liens on it.
In light of the sidewalk project that will be built on Baughman Ave, Morgan said it brought stormwater issues in that area to their attention. He said that area also needs more parks.
“The curb and gutter that was installed on Baughman 30 years ago at this point, along with Palmer Street, has created a situation where all that drainage comes together right at this lot,” Morgan said. “I identified this as an opportunity to do some stormwater infrastructure there to prevent some flooding downstream.”
City Attorney Stephen Dexter explained that the city can initiate foreclosure proceedings to recoup the liens owed, and authorization to acquire the property through the foreclosure process.
When it’s sold by the master commissioner, the city can approve to bid a certain dollar amount, using the judgment amount on the liens owed as a credit at auction. Dexter said it does not guarantee the city will own it, as they could be outbid or there may be another party owed money on the property that may bid to acquire it.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved to add a new section of Bellevue Cemetery to extend to the roadway by Danville High School’s parking lot. Morgan said there will be 28 lots, with two of them being half lots with six graves instead of 12. It will add a total of 324 graves. Graves will be the same fee of $825 for city residents and $1,650 for non-city residents.
• Gave approval for Morgan to pursue the idea of burying additional utilities between the building with Subway to behind city hall. Morgan said the burial of utilities on those properties would improve the ability to develop those properties, and would reduce issues with trees around the overhead lines. He is working to determine a cost for the project.
• Reappointed Janet Hamner to the CVB board.
• Approved a $9,500 design fee for police department renovation at city hall.
• The issuing of occupational licenses is moving from Codes Enforcement to the Finance Department. The commission passed the second reading of ordinance 2003 to change the department where an occupational license is applied for and obtained.
• Passed the second reading of ordinance 2004 to close the tax collection gap that previously omitted online travel companies. This will allow the city to collect taxes for CVB for online hotel bookings.
• Passed the first reading of ordinance 2005 which will give the city guidelines for food trucks and formalize the process for getting food trucks approved on public property. Codes Enforcement Officer Bridgett Lester said they have guidelines for private property but not public property. She said the ordinance addresses things like noise, lighting, public safety, trash, where food trucks can be in relation to similar businesses, and liability.
• The regularly scheduled commission meetings in December have been canceled, and a special meeting will be held on Dec. 19.