The Union County commissioners are struggling with how to use stimulus money made available through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The Union County commissioners are struggling with how to use stimulus money made available through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

When the commissioners were first given details about the funds -- which are earmarked for redevelopment, demolition or rehabilitation of abandoned or foreclosed residential properties -- they thought of using the estimated $240,000 in Richwood.

But now they are considering sites in Magnetic Springs and Milford Center.

John Cleek, of Community Development Consultants of Ohio, first told the commissioners in January about the funds, which are part of the Housing Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

Union County is lumped into a region based on determinations by the Ohio Department of Development, which answers to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Union County is part of a region that includes Logan, Champaign and Hardin counties as well as the cities of Marysville, Urbana and Bellefontaine.

Bob Berquist, Bellefontaine's housing consultant, has taken the lead in administering the $1.8-million given to the region, or an estimated $240,000 per entity.

Bellefontaine will receive an additional 10 percent for the administration of the program.

Each entity has a year from April 1, 2009, according to Berquist, to earmark the money for a demolition or rehabilitation project.

If the funds are not earmarked for projects by April 2010, he said, they are redistributed among the remaining entities within the region. If the funds are not earmarked by September 2010, Berquist said, the state takes them back for redistribution.

The projects, according to Cleek, must reach completion within four years.

County commissioner Charles Hall said May 26 that there is an abandoned building behind the administrative building in Magnetic Springs that might be considered, but he did not know if it qualifies. Officials in Magnetic Springs asked if it qualified for the program, he said.

County prosecutor Dave Phillips also suggested a building in Milford Center that doesn't have a rear wall. The village would like the building removed, he said.

Once Phillips has the criteria for the program, he plans to circulate it through e-mail to zoning inspectors around the county.

catwogan@yahoo.com