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Corydon gets $49,700 revitalization block grant

The town of Corydon has received a $49,700 planning grant from the Federal Small Cities and Towns Community Development Block Grant program that will be used to hire a consulting firm, D.L.Z. of Indianapolis, which will work with the town and Main Street Corydon to create a master downtown redevelopment and revitalization plan.
The plan could eventually lead to a series of economic development incentives for local businesses to address affordable housing, restore crumbling facades, and maintain the historic integrity of the downtown through new zoning ordinances.
The grant award was announced last month by then-Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan.
The planning grant project ‘narrative’ was written by Don Lopp, the community development director for the River Hills Regional Planning Commission. Lopp said the basic approach of the plan will be to identify the economic ‘industry clusters’ downtown and recommend ways to improve the overall economic base and the general quality of life for local residents.
Lopp said the impetus for the plan is the ‘dwindling economic activity downtown’ and the ‘untapped potential for economic growth’ for the area. Seeing a growing need for revitalization efforts throughout the town’s historic district, the Harrison County Visitors and Tourism Bureau earlier this year revitalized the Corydon Main Street program to get things going.
Because Corydon is the county seat for Harrison County, the historic site of Indiana’s first capital, the hub for most economic, social and governmental activities in the county, redevelopment is a top priority, Lopp wrote.
The town fathers are also well aware of the need to have a vibrant, active downtown as an important component for its continued economic stability and growth.
Without revitalization, Lopp’s planning grant project narrative said, the ‘fragile economic situation downtown’ could get worse.
The consultants are expected to look at the ‘blighted conditions’ of several building facades downtown and the national small-town, bipolar dilemma of a fading, historic core downtown that’s trying to compete for survival with a new thriving commercial sector outside of town.
The revitalization plan is expected to expand the town’s inventory of buildings in the town center. Buildings will be ranked according to ‘distress and deterioration’ in an effort to reverse the effects of neglect.
Another part of the study will review housing needs downtown and provide a recommended course of action to ensure quality affordable housing.
The planners will follow D.O.C. guidelines in looking at the present state of downtown businesses and creating a list of under-used or vacant second and third floors.
There will also be an analysis of the ‘current retail trade mix’ and identification of ‘economic clusters.’
The consultants will do a demographic analysis of consumer patterns and an analysis of the individuals and households in the district.
They will analyze Corydon’s vistors and ‘tourist generators’ and provide a profile of the typical tourist here.
Private property in the district will be inventoried.
Town council president Fred Cammack said the council is likely to approve the consultants’ contract soon so they can get to work, probably this month or November. It’s expected that a final plan will be complete in April of 2004, with the plan then going to the D.O.C. for its approval.
The D.O.C. considered other factors in awarding the grant, including Corydon’s sidewalk and street repair projects underway in older sections of town, and committing revenue sharing funds from Caesars riverboat casino to infrastructure. The town is also working on improving storm water drainage and sewer collection, and recently the town built a seven-bay garage for the street department.
In other town business:
The trustees met Sept. 8 in regular session and held a public hearing on the 2004 town budget, estimated to be about $1.68 million. There was no input from the public or protests. The trustees then adopted the budget at a special meeting on Sept. 18.
Town Clerk-Treasurer Jan Frederick said, ‘There’s not much new in the budget.’ Property tax statements have not been received from the State Board of Tax Commissioners or county auditor’s office yet, so, ‘This is much more a guesstimate than any budget I’ve ever worked on,’ said Frederick.
The tax board advised municipalities like Corydon to advertise their budgets and rates on the high side, in order to get all the funds that will be allocated to them.
The way it looks now, the average homeowner will pay a total corporate tax rate of 58 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. This year, the rate was advertised at 60 cents but wound up at 47 cents. In 2002, the rate was 53 cents.
The lastest assessed valuation of property in Corydon was $93,842,050, and that will probably go up once all the paperwork is done, and the rates will likely go down, Frederick said.
Last year, the total assessed valuation was $73,805,845. The $20 million difference is probably due to increased reassessments. Not long ago (seven or eight years), the reassessment was $24 million, and the tax rate was $1.50.
Frederick also got permission last month to transfer $300,000 from the Caesars riverboat revenue fund to the general fund to make up for the temporary lack of property tax settlement money. Once the property tax funds starts coming in, Frederick will transfer the $300,000 back.
The town trustees said the Halloween on the Square parade will be Saturday night, Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m. Trick-or-treating will be Friday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. for children 12 and under.
Doug Denbo, representing Don Mathes, the new chairman of the Hoosier Knobs Car Club’s Auto Fest on the Square, asked for permission to have the annual classic car show on Sunday, Oct. 19. It will be on the south and east sides of the square, from noon to 4 p.m. The Auto Fest started in 1986, Denbo said.
Officer Gary Stinson was made a permanent deputy marshal, now that he has graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.
The trustees also agreed to add a $6 charge on all returned checks. Banks are now charging that amount to the town, and money is being taken directly out of the town’s account. Before, the town had collected the money for bad checks and turned it over to the bank. The check came back to the town, which tried to get the money from water customers. If it wasn’t forthcoming, the water was turned off. The prosecutor was used as a last resort.