Pataskala City Council approved pursuing an application for a first-tier federal Community Development Block Grant to prepare for possible future subsidies for downtown redevelopment.

Pataskala City Council approved pursuing an application for a first-tier federal Community Development Block Grant to prepare for possible future subsidies for downtown redevelopment.

The grant is a small one designed to help communities better prepare for larger grants, planning director Dianne Harris said.

"This program is run by the state of Ohio, the downtown revitalization program, which has three tiers," Harris said. "This is tier 1, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching, up to $15,000, to do studies for downtown physical redevelopment, do market studies, maybe create design codes, things to prepare an area for revitalization. This is just a planning grant. We would have to match dollar for dollar, at least. Sometimes you need to put in more to get done what you need to get done."

Harris said she has experience in working with other cities to prepare grants but has not prepared a CDBG revitalization grant for Pataskala yet.

"It's going to take a certain amount of sitting down and thinking about which study or plan would be most beneficial and how far the money could go," Harris said. "(Council) also needs to decide which area they would like to apply the grant toward. You want to make sure there is support from the business community in the area. If they create design standards, for example, you want to make sure the community supports it."

In addition to the historic downtown Pataskala area, another suitable revitalization area could be Summit Station, Harris said.

"Downtown seems the most likely place where we would start, but the village area around Summit Station could be a potential place," she said. "We have not had any feelers from businesses or property owners there, but it's an area we're interested in trying to encourage revitalization."

The tier 1 grants also are at significant risk of being lost in the state budget debate, Harris said.

"There is a possibility that CDBG funds, particularly for this program, may not be available," she said. "The state is going to have to decide if this is a priority program or if it is cut in favor of something else. If it doesn't survive, the window is in June and it lasts until the money is gone. Some years the money goes quickly; some years it does not. It is first-come, first-served."

Harris said she would begin reaching out to the Pataskala Area Chamber of Commerce and other businesses and property owners to gauge the strength of interest and what could be most beneficial to planning for the grant.

"At some point we just have to get in contact with the various downtown areas and see how they feel," she said.