Street scape project something to be excited about

I am excited about our upcoming street scape project slated for construction next spring. The construction company has started its planning by requesting the council to pick the brick color, or colors in this case, so the order can be placed and delivered when the work starts. It was quite the discussion for the council. Have you ever tried herding cats? We probably shouldn’t consider doing much exterior designing in the future, but we had some fun with the discussion and greatly appreciated the recommendations. I do look forward to assisting with the final details of the project.

As I have previously mentioned, this project will not address all of Marion’s challenges, but it is a good investment in one of our most historic and beautiful areas of the city. We hope this investment by the city will encourage building and business owners along this corridor and downtown area to consider changing, updating and repairing their business frontages.

We are considering a program to assist building owners with these improvements.

Our vision for the future is to revitalize this business district for not only Marion residents but our visitors as well. Please contact Randy Collett, our economic development director, if you are interested in the program. We will provide details in the near future.

The Marion Advancement Campaign Inc., our local community foundation, has notified our county commissioners of a “listening tour” of various civic and social groups with regards to the abandoned Bowron building. MAC is hopeful to gain community support for eventually undertaking a rehabilitation effort. While the idea is certainly in its early stages, this companion building to the Historic Elgin Hotel is an excellent example of the historic limestone buildings Marion has in its downtown area.

Board members from MAC will gladly visit your organization to discuss the possibilities for this beautiful structure.

We continue to plan for approximately a $4,000,000 upgrade to our water distribution system. We are researching possible grants to assist us in financing this project. We provided some information in your utility bill and newsletter. We are tackling as many of our infrastructure needs as possible while trying to keep your property taxes and user fees in check.

The county received an increase in the property evaluations, which may allow for some tax relief while maintaining a similar budget to 2018.

I believe we are at a point where we have stretched property taxes to the maximum and our efforts to grow the tax base (both property and sales tax) are critical. We will continue to work on growing the Marion tax base through such efforts as the moderate income housing project on North Coble Street, airport development and our land bank.

The Marion Land Bank recently accepted our first donation of land with a house. We are fortunate that the house can be rehabilitated. We will be working with local contractors to provide plans for the property. The land bank process has been used by larger cities to redevelop blighted areas. Property owners can apply to the land bank for consideration of a property to be donated. The property can be bare land or have a structure on it.

The land bank board (currently comprised of your city council members) then reviews the application to see if the property meets the criteria for redevelopment.

The property owner may receive a tax benefit for their donation. We encourage property owners to consider donating unused lots or unwanted commercial or residential properties that may provide a win-win situation as a tax benefit for them as well as an improved or redeveloped property for the community.