By Tim Linscott
Reading, reviewing and being observant will hopefully help the Village of Venango make some improvements.
In July of 2013 Venango village board members finalized the establishment of a Community Redevelopment Authority to help provide improvement funds for the village.
Diane Maupin, village board president, explained that since the CRA in Vengango is so new, funds have not been collected yet and should be coming in in May.
“After reading newspapers and hearing different things about other towns that have CRA’s, we started looking at trying to capture some funds for improvements,” Maupin said.
The process was talked about and set up for nearly four years. Maupin said that once the planning and study process began it was an ‘intense’ two years of executing the plan to establish the CRA.
A comprehensive plan, then a zoning plan was done for Venango before a new blighted and sub-standard study was completed to establish the CRA.
No specific projects have been fully discussed or chosen at this point, but Maupin said that Venango is in the same situation many other villages and towns are in around the state with an aging infrastructure. One example she pointed out was that the water system in Venango is from the 1940s.
Once funds come into the CRA, the village board will look at what projects will benefit the entire community, according to Maupin.
“Our citizens deserve what everyone in every town deserves and needs, good streets, good infrastructure and we feel we are doing the right thing to put those things in place for the future,” Maupin said. “We will do what is best for the community as a whole.”
Tim Moore, village chairman in Madrid, has seen what a CRA can do for a community.
Established in 1997, the Madrid CRA has been utilized for a variety of projects to benefit the community and according to Moore, ‘opened up a lot of avenues for us.’
The main project used by the CRA once established in Madrid was paving 14 blocks of town. CRA funds were also used to contribute in support of the ethanol plant in Madrid, to the tune of $800,000.
The latest project CRA funds are helping Madrid with is the building of a new sewer plant. Final plans should be finalized in the next month.
Since establishing the CRA the village’s valuation went from $1.4 million to $6 million.
The village used the CRA to effectively rehabilitate 13 structures, not only getting rid of dilapidated structures, but adding new construction to Madrid.
“It has been a very valuable tool,” Moore said.
Part of the process of establishing a CRA is conducting a blighted and sub-standard study on an entire village (or 50 percent of a city the size of Grant).
The connotation of the word ‘blighted’ and ‘substandard’ for an entire village brought out roughly 30 percent of the Village of Madrid during the public hearing phase of establishing the CRA. Moore explained, however, it is not about ‘blighted’ parts of the village but ‘underdeveloped’ is a better term.
“Our entire town wasn’t blighted or sub-standard, but not being developed to its full potential,” Moore said.
A wonderful side effect to establishing the CRA board, according to Moore, was that the village board members had three community members at large on the CRA board, which led to stronger community involvement.
“We were able to get people in the community that wanted to be involved on the CRA board. Some of the CRA board members eventually phased into the village board,” Moore said.
The process took nearly two years start to finish but has been well worth the time and effort, Moore conceded.
“A CRA board can give you so many tools to use and can do so much for a community,” Moore said.