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By Carmen Ensinger
While the city of Carrollton is applying for the Rebuild Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Grant program, it is the Carrollton Square Initiative who is putting up the bulk of the $200,000 of local funding to apply towards the grant to make the grant application more appealing to those who score the grants and determine who they are awarded to.
The grant is a 100 percent grant, but any local funding pledged by a municipality adds points to an application. The $200,000, of which CSI contributed $100,000, is almost 10 percent of the $2.1 million project the city has put an application in for.
The city of Carrollton has applied for a $30,000 Build Illinois Bond Fund grant and has committed $70,000 of local funds to the project.
After the city of Carrollton approved the commitment of these funds on Thursday, Dec. 16, CSI posted the following on their Facebook page.
“This project will enhance the overall appearance of the courthouse grounds, provide a walkable downtown connected through the courthouse square, provide access to the historic Rainey statue and new Veteran’s Memorial and improve the suitability of the space for regional and local events.
“It involves installing new sidewalks, historic lighting, and electrical services around the courthouse to provide better access, greenspaces and activity spaces in the public space. In addition, the city will reconfigure the parking areas along US 67 and South Main Street to provide a more defined separation from the streets, better traffic flow, more room for activity space and better ADA parking.”
The project itself has two key areas that will be addressed.
The first area is the Courthouse Square Enhancement and Revised Parking/Activity Space. The Carrollton Courthouse Square Historic District encompasses the courthouse square and surrounding commercial district. This district is centered around the Greene County Courthouse that was constructed in 1891-92 and a Carnegie Library built in the early 1900s.
Recently, the courthouse has been enhanced with accent lighting to highlight the historic architecture and the county square. This project was completed with private funding. But most of the green space surrounding the courthouse remains undeveloped.
The county board is seeking to improve access for disabled patrons to the elevator on the east side of the building and a local group has proposed a new monument to honor veterans that will be placed next to the Thomas Carlin statue on the square.
This space has the opportunity to provide significant commercial and recreational support for the community and the region. Over 55 businesses are in the square with over 350 full and part-time jobs.
This portion of the proposal includes the following elements:
■ Install sidewalks, historic lighting, and electrical services to provide access to the courthouse, greenspaces, and activity spaces. This will enhance the overall appearance of the courthouse grounds, provide a walkable downtown connected through the courthouse square, provide access to the historic Rainey statue and new veterans’ memorial, and improve the suitability of the space for regional and local events.
■ Enhance the ADA accessibility to the courthouse with improved parking and access from the east side of the building where the elevator is located.
■ Create a space for a veterans’ memorial (the memorial will be privately funded) that adjoins the current historic Rainey statue creating a focal point for history and recognition of those that have served our country.
■ Revise and replace the parking and crosswalks along the east side of the courthouse square to improve pedestrian and auto safety and improve traffic flow along Highway 67.
■ Design the east parking area to also provide an extended activity space for events on the square that will have high visibility with a safe environment for attendees.
■ Encourage local food production and enhance food security with space for local food markets on the square.
The second area of revitalization focuses on the south business district on the square.
The south side of the square demonstrates the greatest need for revitalization and improvement. This business area has seen minimal development and improvement although it contains one of the key restaurant attractions in the region and houses a medical clinic. In addition, any improvements in this area must address the water mains and services in this part of the square. Enhancements in this part of the square will attract and support new business development and provide additional activity space for events on the square.
This portion of the proposal includes the following elements:
■ Replace the water main in this block (clay pipe approaching 100 years old) and the water service lines that may contain lead piping.
■ Replace the sidewalks and pavement in this section of the square.
■ Revise and replace the parking and crosswalks along the south side of the courthouse square to improve pedestrian and auto safety and improve traffic flow along South Main Street.
■ Improve traffic flow in this area and pedestrian access to the square.
■ Ensure ADA compliance and accessibility.
■ Create additional activity space for local and regional events.
■ Install historic lighting.
■ Install electric vehicle charging stations.
If this grant is approved, the city would use the grant proceeds, city funds, and private contributions to fund the entire project including some improvements that the county planned to address. No county funds would be used for this project. The deadline for grant submission is Jan. 10 and any awards should be announced by May of 2022. The Rebuild Downtowns and Main Streets program has been allocated $50 million for an anticipated 30 grants statewide.
The Greene County Courthouse Square project provides an opportunity to significantly impact business vitality and viability by becoming a location that attracts residents and visitors through an attractive and hospitable environment that enables local and regional activities and supports business expansion and growth.