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City Council encouraged by Our Town Coshocton presentation

| December 15, 2015

COSHOCTON – City council members, Mayor Steve Mercer and Service Director Jerry Stenner were all impresses with the presentation Our Town Coshocton gave at the Dec. 14 Coshocton City Council meeting.

“I always believed this group would be the vehicle (for revitalizing downtown and our business district),” Mercer said after the presentation. “You are a group with a lot of fresh faces and now that you have your structure in place let’s do it and get together.”

Our Town Coshocton’s revitalization plan was developed by Poggemeyer Design Group and includes four sections: Design, promotions, economic restructuring and organizational development.

The design part of the plan took 18 months, but is now complete. During this phase Poggemeyer analyzed data collected from various meetings with members of the community and surveys and used this information to help them figure out what physical updates or changes need to be made to the downtown area / business district.

The promotions aspect of the plan included branding, building a website and coming up with the right message to send at the right time to the community. It also included planning such events as Denim & Diamonds, the Christmas parade and First Fridays.

“Our vision is to bring people from outside of the community to our downtown,” said Melissa Leist, an Our Town Coshocton board member. “Westerville has a Fourth Friday (event) that also started small, but now 10,000 people attend it.”

The economic restructuring aspect of the plan focus on finding out what we have here, what we need and how to get more.

The organizational development phase will focus on developing the board and its roles and recruiting members.

“First and foremost we need city and county approval for the plan,” Leist said. “To be considered for some grants we have to show we have cooperation and support. We’d like to work as a community. It’s not our group, but our town working to revitalize it.”

Several towns in Ohio already have taken the same approach to revitalization and seen their plan come to life.

Wellington started its project in 2000 and now has done $5.4 million in public and private improvements and Amherst now has close to $7 million reinvested in its downtown. Port Clinton also is currently working with Poggemeyer and Lauren Falcone, a professional planner and grant writer with the company. She informed City Council that she is working with Port Clinton to help get grants for projects such as replacing sewer and water lines from the 1920s, extending sidewalks for outdoor dining and improving streetscapes.

“There are so many different funding sources you can tap,” Falcone said. “You never want to see a plan just sit on a shelf. Now that we have one, it’s time to get in there and decide what you want to do at hopefully very little cost to the city.”

Councilman Brad Fuller said the group’s plans sound exciting and Councilman Glenn Mishler appreciated them sharing the success stories of other towns.

“That gives you a lot of credibility,” Mishler said.

Councilman Jim Baker also liked what he heard from Our Town Coshocton.

“I’ve lived here for 78 years and I’m very impressed with your group,” he said. “It’s well needed.”

Mercer is ready to see the city and Our Town Coshocton work together.

“I welcome meeting with you all and doing it soon so we can start prioritizing projects,” he said.

City Council President Cliff Biggers agreed with the rest of council.

“You have the script,” he said. “We just need to get out of our own way.”

Another highlight of the meeting was council giving a second reading to the ordinance authorizing the mayor or service director to enter into a contract with the Coshocton County Sheriff for law enforcement protection for the City of Coshocton.

Sheriff Tim Rogers is looking forward to seeing that contract finalized.

“We appreciate your work on it and your support and are looking forward to fulfilling our obligation to the tax payers and council,” he said.

Rogers shared an example of how dedicated the sheriff’s office is to the community.

“Over the weekend someone came through Main Street and tore down Christmas lights,” he said. “I called it in, went on a call in the county and when I came back through there were three deputies out repairing the lights. They did that on their own at 4 a.m. without any prompting. They take pride in this community.”

At the meeting Stenner also shared that the city had not heard anymore updates from PIRHL Developers, LLC who had approached the planning commission about getting property rezoned for a housing rental complex they said would be for working families.

“It looks like they are not planning on coming back to this (idea),” Stenner said. “I think they were pretty overwhelmed by the participation at the meeting.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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