Posted by mw on September 23rd, 2010 8:54 am
Stratford, a community of 746, has the same fate as many downtowns across the country. Through neglect of regular maintenance, a range of inappropriate alterations to downtown storefronts and economic challenges faced by many rural Iowa communities, the downtown area has definitely seen better times.
To help combat this decline, Stratford has participated in the Main Street Iowa program through the state’s only county-wide Main Street program, Hamilton County S.E.E.D., since 1991. They have been successful in recruiting a grocery store back downtown, a nice one block stretch of one and two story turn of the last century structures, downtown is home to city hall, the public library and the Swedish American Museum in an adaptively reused 1920s gas station.
All of these successes have now set the stage for a unique façade rehabilitation program that will address twenty-three downtown façades simultaneously. Stratford has tapped into a new funding source through the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds call the Downtown Revitalization Fund.
According to the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s application, this funding source is available to all non-entitlement communities in the state of Iowa and focuses on projects that will have long-lasting benefits for the downtown area that contribute toward a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort. The projects must take place in the downtown or historic commercial center of the community and are meant to support and demonstrate: innovation, board downtown district impact, be a local downtown revitalization plan, historic preservation, sustainable practices and green infrastructure. You can learn more about the Downtown Revitalization Fund on the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s website (http://www.iowalifechanging.com/community/default.aspx).
Because, the CDBG program is federally funded, Stratford’s project will need to have a full 106 review of the project for environmental and Secretary of the Interior’s Standards appropriateness.
The community of Stratford is both excited and anxious to get this mega project going in the community. Catherine Bergman, the local Main Street director, is quoted in a local newspaper article as saying about the project “”One, the beautification,” Bergman said. “As a customer, you want to go into a place that looks nice rather than run-down. Two, from the standpoint of historic preservation, when you put money into restoring buildings – they will last longer.”
To find out more, go to: www.webstercitynews.com