City of Sigourney hears Community Betterment Grant Presentation

Sigourney, Iowa- The City of Sigourney is considering a grant application for a program that could potentially improve the overall downtown look and appeal. On February 20, Brad Grefe, Senior Planner with Area 15 Regional Planning Commission, presented to the council about applying for a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) to fund a downtown revitalization (façade) project. According to Grefe, Sigourney could be eligible for up to $500,000 in grant money. He said that if Sigourney is approved for the grant, there would also be a local match required before the project could get underway.

“There is a city share, and then there is an owner share. The owners usually pay about 25 percent of the construction cost,” Grefe said.

Grefe noted that of the local match, it likely would not all come out of pocket from taxpayers. He noted that other communities he has worked with have tapped into community grant foundations in order to meet the local match and application financing requirements. 

“For a community your size, I think we might shoot for a little of a lower match and a higher grant, because I think it might be fairer,” Grefe said.

The purpose of the grant would be to restore downtown building façades, in an effort to revitalize a downtown area. Grefe said that not every building would be eligible for a new façade. In order to be considered, a surveyor must come through the area and survey the buildings. That surveyor would then declare a “slum and blighted area”, which is where façade work could be done. Buildings outside of that area would not be eligible. Grefe noted that Sigourney is not the first area community to look into this type of program. Ottumwa and Oskaloosa both recently completed two different phases, with both communities each restoring over 20 facades. Oskaloosa and Ottumwa area also preparing to tackle a third phase, due to the overwhelming positive response both communities have received.

For more on this story and others, catch the February 27 edition of the News-Review.