Chauncey Town Council focuses on development, arts and infrastructure | News

CHAUNCEY – While continuing to pursue opportunities related to the Baileys Trail System, Chauncey Village Government is starting 2022 with a focus on development, infrastructure and the arts.

Chauncey Mayor Amy Renner has identified her top three priorities for the New Year as funding for a sewer line replacement project; adopt a zoning code; and join the National Flood Insurance Program.

Of the three, Renner said joining the flood insurance program was his top priority because “it’s really one of the biggest things holding back any economic development here.”

Joining the program will reduce flood insurance rates for village residents and businesses while making it easier to get loans from lending institutions, Renner said.

Renner worked to help bring the village into compliance with the program requirements in order to join.

“I really hope it’s going to end this year,” she said.

Meanwhile, the village has been scrambling to fund its sewer line replacement project, which Chauncey Village Council member Tammy Hawk has also identified as a top priority for 2022.

A recent series covered by The Athens NEWS, The Vinton-Jackson Courier and The Logan Daily News reported on regional water infrastructure and included the difficulties faced by Chauncey financing of the $5 million sewer replacement project.

Although the project is listed as a top priority for the county, the project has received no funding in three waves of recent state grants. As reported by The Athens NEWS, it is possible that the project was not reviewed before the money was allocated, leaving Chauncey to seek funds elsewhere.

Renner said she was expecting to receive multiple requests for funding for the project.

However, Renner said the village learned this week that it would receive $130,000 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Appalachian Governor’s Office to extend a sewer line off May Avenue under Plum Street. . The extension will bring the sewer to a property that the village has identified as an economic development site.

Hawk said the village hopes several new businesses can start in this area.

Some residents of the village have expressed concern about the changes that will be introduced as a result of economic development.

Facebook user Jason Welch, who grew up in the village, shared his concern in a comment on a post from The Athens Messenger focused on the renovation of old school buildings in the village to accommodate a business suite.

“Gentrification is coming to southeast Ohio,” Welch said in his commentary. “Goodbye old coal miners and welfare recipients, it’s time to welcome the hipsters.”

The zoning plan that Renner has identified as one of his top priorities aims to avoid potential negative ramifications of development and maintain affordable housing.

A first draft of the zoning plan was recently completed by a commission made up of members of the village government and local residents. Renner added that the plan will soon be presented to the village council and the public for comment and review.

Hawk said a major priority will be to maintain the village’s identity and affordable cost of living while continuing to attract new development.

“We really want housing to be affordable, and we want to keep that small-town feel — bringing in businesses, but with a small-town feel,” Hawk said. “We don’t want to leave that to the companies.”

Village council members said they are also focusing on beautification and artistic and cultural opportunities, both to attract visitors and improve the village for its people.

Council member Diana Burritt said she hopes to improve the city by working with the Athens County Land Bank to remove abandoned or dilapidated structures. The progress of the village’s work with the land reserve was discussed at the first ordinary village council meeting of the year last Thursday.

“My goal is to help clean up the city,” Burritt said. “You want to come to a city that’s pretty, so that’s my goal – to make sure the city is going to look a lot better.”

Council member Connaught Cullen said she was excited about the opportunities the development of the Baileys presents to bring more arts and cultural events to the village.

“I want to see music in the park and festivals, and movie nights with a big screen and a projector,” Cullen said. “I’m an artist, so it’s my job to make sure we don’t all focus too much on the economy. It would be nice to have some murals, and maybe some sculptures.

The village is currently considering a project to convert old mining buildings near the trailhead at the Baileys into a museum focusing on the history of Chauncey. The board discussed the first steps in assessing the feasibility of the project at Thursday’s meeting.

“We want a lot of our history to end at the park, so people who come there will learn more about our little town,” Hawk said.

Cullen said she expects the project to take at least a few years if it moves forward after an investigation.

Additionally, the village is seeking funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources which Renner says would be used to install signs along the gravel path near the Baileys Trailhead, guiding visitors through the pages of the trail. a storybook.

The village also received a grant from the ODNR to add additional amenities to the park, Renner said.

Cullen said all of these projects are significant improvements for residents and visitors.

“Everyone loves economic things and businesses, but it takes more than that to create a really nice community,” Cullen said. “We want it to be beautiful too.”

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