Several downtown John Day businesses have expressed interest in Main Street Revitalization grants from the state worth up to $200,000 apiece, City Manager Nick Green told the city council Feb. 12.

Green said he met with downtown merchants several times since December to discuss the program. The grants support downtown improvement projects for communities that belong to the Oregon Main Street Network, which means the city will be the designated applicant. The applications were scheduled to be reviewed by the council on Feb. 26.

The money can be used for acquiring, rehabilitating and constructing buildings and facilitating community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, establishing or expanding viable businesses or creating a stronger tax base, Green said.

Special events

The council also discussed event planning proposals presented by Councilor Shannon Adair. A street fair intended to increase foot traffic downtown and bring visitors to John Day could mean closing Main Street from the stoplight to Dayton Street during the weekend of March 22-23.

Approval by the Oregon Department of Transportation would be needed to close Main Street. A newly formed art council has expressed interest in the idea, and the John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation Department might participate, Adair said. The council gave its consensus to move ahead on the proposal.

Adair also said she has been talking to RC Huerta, the program director at the parks and recreation department, about holding a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in summer. The event could be held at the Seventh Street Complex or downtown, as other communities do, Adair said.

City projects

In other city council news, the council approved a $75,924 payment to Alpine Abatement Assoc. of Bend for asbestos and lead abatement at the Weaver Building on Main Street.

The payment will be covered by a Department of Environmental Quality brownfield reclamation grant and a Main Street Revitalization grant. The city purchased the building in 2017 using a $100,000 Main Street Revitalization Grant.

Following DEQ and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, Alpine Abatement removed the skim coat and plaster from framing, floor coverings and a water heater cover that contained asbestos. They will return in the spring to remove exterior paint that contains lead.

Green said now is the time for the council to discuss the disposition of the Weaver Building before electrical or other work proceeds. The city could sell the building by bid or set a price based on criteria. The city could also enter into a partnership with a new owner that would terminate once all the rehabilitation conditions had been met.

The council also approved a $49,987 payment to L&L Excavating of Mt. Vernon for excavation, backfill and concrete curb work for the Canton Street improvement project.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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