LIMA — With multiple housing-related initiatives in the pipeline, 2020 is looking to be a busy time for the City of Lima’s Department of Community Development.
In a review of the city department’s budget held Wednesday night by council’s finance committee, the department’s director, Susan Crotty, named at least four major projects that could have wide-ranging implications for the city’s current housing stock. The first initiative, the City of Lima’s housing study, has just been completed as of Jan. 15, and it is set to appear before council in its finished form during the next January meeting.
Crotty said the completed study has both recommendations and potential strategies to improve Lima’s housing stock, but what strategies council and the city decide to follow remains to be seen. When pressed about staffing needs later in the meeting, Crotty told council to table the discussion until the housing study can be examined in detail, as some potential housing solutions could mean changes in department personnel.
“Some strategies will necessitate the hiring of special staff,” Crotty told council.
Community Development Block Grant dollars and HOME funds will also see some potential changes this year. As required by the federal program, the city will be moving through the process that sets a plan in place for how CDBG funds will be used up until 2025. Concurrently, councilors will also be considering CDBG allocations for the following year.
Other major projects include the utilization of a $2 million grant provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes as well as the creation of “neighborhood” land use plans.
Awarded this past year, Crotty said she applied for the federal lead hazard grant, as many of Lima’s housing stock were built when lead, which can be especially harmful for children and pregnant women, was a more common housing material.
As for the department’s neighborhood land use plans, Crotty said she had initially considered creating a comprehensive plan for the city, but the idea was shelved to create something a little closer to street level. While the details are still being worked out as to how neighborhoods, or potentially corridors, are defined in Lima, the community development department is starting to gauge what community businesses or institutions could be used as anchor points to help lead focused development of particular regions.
“There’s a lot of work ahead, but I think there’s a lot of positive developments on the horizon,” Crotty said. “I appreciate that council is supporting our budget request because that’ll allow us to do a lot for our neighborhoods.”
In related news, Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center CEO Abe Ambroza and Allen Economic Development Group President/CEO Dave Stratton also appeared before the finance committee to request their organizations’ annual allocations made by the City of Lima.
Ambroza pointed out that the city’s $100,000 allocation has helped the Civic Center increase movement in downtown Lima, with visitors from more than 35 states and countries attending center events. Due to such an influx, Ambroza reported that the Civic Center’s revenue since 2016 has jumped by $300,000.
Stratton also reported positive numbers for AEDG, which receives roughly $30,000 from the City of Lima. Stratton estimated that if the 45 projects currently in AEDG’s pipeline are completed, Allen County could experience $439 million in capital investment and see 700 new jobs by the end of 2020.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.