PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners asked representatives of the Parkersburg High School/Washington Avenue Historical Community Association to pursue other funding options while waiting for a Governor's Community Participation Grant contract to come through for an upcoming project.
County officials indicated once the grant contract comes through, if the district was unable to raise the funds needed, it could come back to the commission and renew a request.
Association president John R. Swales III, by letter, earlier asked the commission to consider advancing the association $3,000 so the group could move forward with plans to install pillars on both ends of the historic residential district.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Amber Haid, John Swales and Jan Crego, representatives of the board of directors for the Parkersburg High School/Washington Avenue Historical Community Association, met with Wood County commissioners Monday to discuss a funding request for a district project.
The nonprofit group is pursuing a Governor's Community Participation grant for $3,000.
"Over the past year we have been fundraising and have accumulated $6,000 so far for the project. We need $9,000 total," Swales told commissioners Monday.
"We met with our local legislative delegation in March and were assured we would receive the grant, but the process does take a while. We wanted to go ahead and proceed so we decided to ask the county commission for help to get started as soon as possible," Swales said.
He said the group was asking the $3,000 to be advanced from the county pending receipt of the grant funds at which time the county would be reimbursed for the funds.
The grant request was filed using the county as the host, sponsoring entity. Swales said the group was told it had been approved for the grant funding.
County officials said the Governor's Community Participation Grants are reimbursable grants. Once the grant contract has been approved, the group provides receipts and the grant funds are used to reimburse for the expenses incurred.
"The association is a small group and they don't have a large budget. They have asked to be included in our hotel/motel tax budget on other occasions, but we have turned them down," Commissioner Blair Couch said.
County Administrator Marty Seufer said no grant contract has been signed for the assocation's project.
"The county advanced money like this once before, to the Sweetwater Gathering," Seufer said.
"I don't think it's inappropriate to wait until the grant contract is in hand. We have given the group money in the past for other projects, like purchasing flags," Couch said.
Commissioner Steve Gainer said he counted about 88 homes on Washington Avenue.
"I divided up the cost; it would only be about $35 per house. I can't understand why you can't just get the residents to contribute the money," Gainer said.
The association representatives said they had already sought individual donations.
Gainer asked if the group had sought financial help from the city; officials said they had not.
"There are only two historic districts in our town, Julia-Ann Square and ours. With so many people moving in here we are trying to preserve what's in the city," Jan Crego, an association board officer, said.
"I don't have a problem with the project. I just don't feel we should use taxpayers dollars to do it," Gainer said.
"If you try to raise the funds and just can't do it, we can help," said commission President Wayne Dunn.
"We have been working year round to raise funds; we are not asking the county for the money. We are just asking you to upfront it and we would reimburse you, so we could go ahead and buy the materials," said Amber Haid, an association member.
Couch, who was a former resident of Washington Avenue, personally donated $50 to Swales for the project during the meeting.