Representatives from the city of Columbus and the German Village Society are vowing to work together despite a public spat involving Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund money.
The dispute started Jan. 10 when the Society posted a letter on its website alleging the city had twice "misallocated" UIRF money.
Society officials also asked the city to return the $500,000 of infrastructure funds earmarked for sandstone curbs and brick sidewalks along East Livingston Avenue and said they believed the Columbus Department of Public Service should pay for the repairs out of capital dollars and not the UIRF money.
But on Jan. 11, the society softened its message, saying it "was not our intention to point fingers at any one person or organization. For that, we apologize."
"In an effort to be as transparent and accountable, to which we remain committed, we drew attention away from celebrating our successes," the letter said.
Joshua Zimmerman, president of the German Village Society board of trustees, wouldn't say posting the initial letter was a mistake. Rather, he attributed it a relatively new board and executive director miscommunicating with the city and failing to cite the neighborhood's successes.
"I think every day we learn things," Zimmerman said.
He said the dust-up hasn't hurt the society's relationship but has "strengthened it."
"We're all working together to learn from the experience and get better because of it," Zimmerman said.
City officials expressed surprise when reading the letter. Mark Dravillas, acting administrator of the city's planning division, said he took umbrage with the word "misallocated," because no such action occurred.
The money for the upgrades to the south side of East Livingston Avenue was returned to the Society and the city now plans to build the new curbs and sidewalks using concrete.
Society officials intend to work this year to identify neighborhood projects to be funded with its remaining $500,000 in UIRF money, Zimmerman said.
The UIRF program was established by the city to fund infrastructure projects in older neighborhoods, which must apply for the money. The city is responsible for approving projects and ultimately allocating the money.
Susan DeLay, Columbus' urban infrastructure manager, said the next round of UIRF funding could come as early as next year, but the city would like to see several outstanding projects finished first.
Cynthia Rickman, spokeswoman for the Columbus Department of Development, said disagreements with neighborhood leaders aren't unusual.
"We work with neighborhoods on issues, then we move forward," Rickman said. "We try to resolve them and then try to move on."