MARIETTA - As the first phase of Marietta's Armory Square renovation nears the end and preparations for the second phase get under way, there was some good news related to the project this week.
On Wednesday the local Edward Parrish Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century made a $5,000 donation to Armory Square Inc.
In addition the city has been approved for a $99,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to purchase tables, chairs, tents and other equipment to be used during armory-related festivals and other gatherings.
Mitch, left, and Tom Glace with Exterior Restoration Specialists of Columbus complete installation of new front doors on Marietta’s 89-year-old National Guard Armory this week. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
MaryAnn Sandstrom, treasurer and former president of the Edward Parrish Chapter, presented the $5,000 check to Jane Tumas-Serna, vice president of Armory Square Inc., who said all of the funding goes into the armory project.
"Installation of new, high-efficient windows has been completed and new outside doors are nearly installed," Tumas-Serna said of the first phase work.
She added work on a new set of outside front steps will also begin within the next few weeks.
"The second phase will include structural repairs to the roof, a new insulation and roofing system and repointing and repairs to the existing masonry," Tumas-Serna said. "Construction will run from November 2012 through May 2013."
There are approximately 30 women in the local Edward Parrish Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century, and all trace their lineage back to colonial settlers in America. The group has also provided support for steel benches at the Armory Square Veterans Walk of Honor.
Also this week, city development director Andy Coleman announced a state Rural Business Enterprise Grant was been approved for equipment related to the armory project.
"The core purpose of the grant is to help start incubator businesses, which is part of the plan for Armory Square," said Andy Coleman, city development director.
The current business plan for Armory Square includes space at the facility that would be used to help small businesses get off the ground.
Coleman said the equipment could be used during festivals and other events that take place on the Armory Square grounds where artisans and other entrepreneurs would be able to show and sell their wares as they seek to establish a small business.
"The hope is that local citizens will see some business growth because of this type of incubator project," he said. "That's the ideal spirit of this grant."
He said items that will be purchased with the grant funding include 12 tents, 68 tables, 400 chairs, carts park benches, a PA system and signage equipment. Storage carts and trailers for the equipment would also be included.
Last week city engineer Joe Tucker announced the deadline for using a $252,397 Ohio Scenic Byways grant on the armory project had been extended for another year by the Ohio Department of Transportation and could be used for the third phase if enough other funding and construction plans could be in place before the grant times out.
"I sent a letter to ODOT pertaining to the Scenic Byways grant, but we would need a sale date for the project by June 2013," Tucker told council's lands, buildings and parks committee.
He said the grant was extended, but if the deadline is not met ODOT would have to send the grant money would back to the Federal Highways Administration.
"There's a lot of work to do before we can start on the third phase," Tucker said. "First of all we need to agree on exactly what will be located inside the building; we need an operational business plan for the building; and we'll need funding."
He said a rough estimate of the third phase cost would be close to $2 million in order to complete the project.
"That means we're short about $1.7 million for the third phase, if we get the Scenic Byways grant," noted city council president Walt Brothers.
"How do we get that money?" he asked.
Coleman said the development department is continuing to look for further grant funding opportunities.
But Tucker emphasized the deadline to make use of the Scenic Byways grant is less than a year away.
"There's no time to waste if the third phase is going to happen," he said. "People should be working now to get the money together."
Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, and chairman of the lands, buildings and parks committee, said there's no doubt more grants and donations will be needed to complete the Armory Square project's third phase in that timeframe.
"We'll be meeting soon about increasing fundraising efforts for the project, and we want people to see that it's underway," he said. "We feel there are a number of groups and individuals who would contribute, but they have been waiting to see some progress being made on the armory renovation-and now they can see progress is being made."
Noland said in the worse-case scenario, if the Scenic Byways grant deadline can't be met, the second phase of the project would seal the armory interior against the weather and further deterioration.
"The building would effectively be in good 'mothballed' condition if we miss the grant deadline," he said.
Noland noted Armory Square Inc., is a 501c3 organization and any donations to the entity are tax-exempt and can only be used for the armory project.
Contributions should be sent to the Marietta Community Foundation, 100 Putnam Street, P.O. Box 77, Marietta, Ohio 45750. Checks should be made out to Armory Square, Inc.
When completed, Armory Square will serve as a local transportation hub and visitor information center, as well as provide space for business offices and the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The facility will also be available for a variety of community events and gatherings.