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Redevelopment grant approved

WORTHINGTON -- During its regular meeting Monday night, the Worthington City Council approved a $7,000 grant through the Worthington Rediscovered Funds.

The money was awarded to BTLA, LLC, for the purpose of purchasing and renovating the property located at 701 11th Street.

"Anybody can form a company and ask the council for $7,000," council member Rod Sankey said. "It will take 22 years for the city to realize any profit out of this deal through the share of taxes we've received. I don't see any benefit anywhere. We're going to have two or three cases every other Monday with people wanting $7,000."

Mayor Alan Oberloh explained the purpose of the funds.

"The intent was not to demo lots and create bare lots," he said. "It was to improve the quality of the neighborhood. In a couple of instances where the buildings were town down and something was replaced or people expanded their yards, they've done just that. They've increased the value of the neighborhoods because the blight got removed."

According to Oberloh, it isn't necessarily a monetary investment, but something to improve the community.

"It might not necessarily be a prudent financial for the city's return on investment for that particular property," Oberloh said. "But if they do what it appears will happen to this house, it will improve the neighborhood."

Sankey asked about borrowing the money outright.

"Why wouldn't you be willing to borrow the money instead of having it granted it to you?" he said.

After council member Mike Kuhle asked the balance of the fund, it was explained there was $253,000. The city was putting in $25,000 per year, until the sale of the hospital. Then, a $300,000 sum was put into the account from those profits.

It was passed, with Sankey voting against.

"It's a good project and I hope you do more," council member Scott Nelson said.

In other action, the council heard the first reading for a proposed ordinance providing criminal history background checks for applicants for city employments.

There was discussion about raising the emergency storm reserve policy from it's current $200,000 level to $500,000. The proposal was to increase the monthly surcharge by $1 to add the reserve.

However, after much discussion, the council took no action and opted to wait until a later time.

The council also approved the job description for a code enforcer officer/housing inspector.

The YMCA fee adjustment for summer city programs was passed, as was a housing study, which was done by Jay Thompson of Viewpoint.

In other news, Director of Public Works Jim Eulberg reminded the public that the city-wide cleanup has been postponed indefinitely. The annual cleanup will still take place, but at a future date --which has yet to be determined.

Eulberg also stressed that cleanup crews will still be making trips to pick up branches. Even if the crews has been by once, they will return, Eulberg said.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will meet with city officials at 2 p.m. today at the Fire Hall as a step in the process of getting federal funds. The council will reconvene at 7 a.m. Wednesday to continue discussion about bids for cleanup.

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.