German Village Society members and donors held their annual meeting and donor appreciation event at Franklin Art Glass Sunday, Nov. 5.
In addition to unveiling the latest mini-documentary about Village history by John Clark -- this one actually about the history of Franklin Art Glass -- we reviewed the year.
If you couldn't be with us -- or maybe didn't catch part of the conversation -- here are the highlights of what board President Heidi Drake and I shared about the past 12 months.
We continue to notch significant wins on behalf of the neighborhood, but we also need to acknowledge that some things didn't fall our way, or at least didn't yet.
Here is a review:
* Columbia Gas -- let's not bury the lead. We spent $26,000 this year to push Columbia Gas to follow state and national preservation standards in our district.
Did we get everything we wanted? Obviously, no. The meters are coming outdoors and we wanted them in the basement. But what is now agreed is that the first choice is back of home and the last choice is the front of homes. The German Village Society is invited to be in each conversation with property owners; and it is an agreement that will be enforced by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. That's a win for preservation, and that is why the German Village Society exists.
* Sidewalks -- We have a great staff and volunteer team in place who meet quarterly to assess sidewalk grant applications. We are spending our own strategic plan dollars and a nearly $5,000 grant from United Way of Central Ohio. However, we're experiencing very low participation. Help us spread the word to neighbors who need to fix their walk.
Our 2018 work plan includes more use of code enforcement to report dangerous sidewalks, which can lead to fines.
We'd rather not do that, but instead help you improve those walks. They are your responsibility as property owner.
* Third Street -- In May 2016, we held a forum and about 100 of you came out. You delivered a very straightforward, nearly unanimous message. Proceed on the Third Street project. Throw everything you've got at it, including the kitchen sink.
Boy, did we do that. Under the volunteer leadership of Nelson Genshaft, we did a 12-month full-court press that included countless meetings with elected leaders and bureaucrats. It included a little bit spent on lawyers to put us at the right tables; included a Bill Lafayette economic snapshot of German Village. We estimate 500 hours spent and about $7,500 in 12 months.
It didn't get our project funded.
* Urban Iinfrastructure Renewal Fund -- No 2017 Third Street project means $400,000 of the city's Urban Infrastructure Renewal Fund money earmarked for German Village remains to be spent. We had been holding it to meet some Third Street project expenses.
But now, Nancy Kotting is leading a complete remapping of the district -- with the assistance of a lot of volunteers and their trusty dogs -- to see where our curbs, sidewalks and brick streets need attention. We'll look to redirect UIRF funds as soon as we're clear on the areas worst in need.
* Grants -- In addition to UIRF grants, you'll also note in our annual report (available online) that we brought nearly $50,000 worth of grant money to our projects this year. From the interpretive signage trail to sidewalk investment to our National Register amendment, the things we're doing in this community are recognized as good for the entirety of central Ohio, not just for those living and working in our 233 acres.
* SLATE -- You keep raising the game when it comes to our annual events. You buy more tickets, volunteer more hours, recruit more of your companies to take part. But we know a healthy nonprofit has to have regular donors beyond events.
Last fall, we began a program led by the board and guided on the staff side by Mark Weiss, to ask people to go one better. As alsways happens in this neighborhood, people said yes to the tune of nearly $300,000 pledged.
Interested to learn more? Mark and I want to talk to you!
Catch up with all of our annual report outcomes online. Just drop down the "Get Involved" tab.
German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column .