Council votes to have mayor seek grant for downtown

SALEM – City Council agreed Tuesday night to have Mayor John Berlin apply for a state grant requested by the Design Review Board to fund an evaluation of downtown buildings.

Council met briefly in a special meeting specifically to consider the ordinance giving the mayor authorization to apply for the Certified Local Government grant and to accept it if awarded. The filing deadline for the application is Feb. 1.

The Rules and Ordinances Committee had given its blessing Thursday for an ordinance to be prepared. The city qualifies as a CLG due to a historic preservation ordinance put in place years ago, making the city eligible to apply for the grant funding through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

Design Review Board Chairman Ginger Grilli explained previously that there would be no out-of-pocket cash costs for the city, with some departments possibly contributing hours toward the project through the course of their work. The grant requires a 60/40 match, meaning the state would provide $22,491 and the local match would equal $15,003 for a total project cost of $37,494.

The match would come from donated services and materials known as in-kind contributions. She said the affected departments would include the city auditor, the zoning office and the fire department since it handles building inspections for life safety standards.

The pre-development grant would cover evaluation of buildings in the defined area bordered by South Lincoln and Ellsworth avenues and Pershing and Second streets in two phases. The first phase would look at each building’s historical significance and structural integrity. A volunteer assessment group would rank the buildings and select at least nine considered historic and in the most dire shape for a more thorough evaluation by a structural engineer.

Participation will be up to the building owners.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at