In a rare turn of federal funding, Marysville will be able to extend some of its brick sidewalks in Uptown -- without having to pay for it.

In a rare turn of federal funding, Marysville will be able to extend some of its brick sidewalks in Uptown -- without having to pay for it.

A section of Fifth Street between Walnut and Plum streets will be renovated this year, through grants provided by a Tier 2 downtown revitalization community development block grant (CDBG) and an Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) grant, according to city administrator Jillian Froment.

"This will literally cost the city no money, aside from our staff's time," Froment told the city council on March 25.

A portion of that sidewalk was rebuilt within the last two years. County economic development director Eric Phillips said that at that time, immediate repairs were needed for that portion of the streetscape. The sidewalk runs in front of the Union County Chamber of Commerce building.

"It was in pretty bad shape at the time," Phillips said. "The sidewalk had sunken in and was uneven, and we had water coming into the chamber building, causing damage to our foundation. It was creating a problem to the building's integrity. The sidewalk by the Old Bag of Nails and Doc's Bakery was also in very bad shape."

Froment said that the CDBG grant will provide about $170,000 for the project, which will go toward sidewalk improvements, along with adding crosswalks and curbs where none currently exist. To qualify for that funding, the city had to come up with a match. Another $180,000 will come from an existing OPWC grant, which will be used to bury utilities in the area and erect mast arms for traffic signals. Put together, the grants are enough to fund the project, Froment said.

"This is a rare opportunity to leverage two grants," Froment said to the city council. "It's something the city should be proud of."

Phillips said the project is an effort to extend on investments made in Uptown by business owners, and could someday include much more of the district.

"It's going to have to be one block at a time, one section at a time," Phillips said. "The big picture is, we want to extend the streetscape as far as we can. (The repairs two years ago) were needed at the time, but believe me, as private business owners in Uptown we wouldn't have had to do that work if we knew the grant funding to be a sure thing."

Work on the sidewalk must be finished by the end of the year to qualify for the grants.