Town Council restructures stimulus package | April 3, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - April 3, 2009

Town Council restructures stimulus package

Agreement limits grant applicants, widens availability to services

by Geoff Gillette

As the application period rolls on for businesses to participate in the Town of Danville's recently unveiled stimulus plan, officials have offered some changes to the plan to make it more easily available to business owners.

At their March 17 meeting, Town Council members heard from Economic Development & Special Events Coordinator Jill Bergman who presented them with the changes to the plan.

"Over the past few weeks the town has moved forward to refine the program," she said.

A major change to the stimulus plan is that where originally it had offered one set of incentives to retain pre-existing retailers and another set to draw in new retailers, those various incentives will be available universally.

"They folded those two together," Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said. "When we wrote the report we were thinking that perhaps existing retailers needed some different assistance than new retailers who were trying to get into the area would need. Council felt they didn't want to differentiate between the two."

This means that all retailers within the use area are eligible for grants to help with marketing and promotion of their businesses or to pay for design and architectural work on façade improvements.

In addition, the council is still working on how it will allow for some modification of ordinances to allow more outdoor seating at some local restaurants, letting the restaurants seat more customers.

Councilwoman Candace Andersen said she was in favor of easing the seating restriction, within limits.

"I don't mind relaxing this, as long as we make it clear to the businesses that this is a one-year thing. I know once the cows are out of the gate you can't get them back in," she said.

Staff also pointed out that the dollars available to the business owners to provide façade improvements would doubly benefit the town. Calabrigo explained that not only would it help the businesses receiving the assistance, but it would also help out the local businesses doing the work.

"The way they (the council) dealt with it," Calabrigo stated, "was that anything that is design-related must be procured locally."

He said contracting work and other services would go to Danville companies as long as they were able to get within 10 percent of the low bid.

Some concerns were voiced about multiple applications being sought for a single property owner due to them having more than one client.

"I just want to make sure it is spread around," said Councilwoman Karen Stepper.

Councilman Mike Shimansky agreed, saying that the town should stay with one application per property owner and then revisit the issue further down the road and see if they need to make changes.

Another issue raised dealt with how the applications will be processed.

"I'm really not interested in a first-in, first-out process. I'm hoping we get a lot of projects and don't want them all done the first day. And I don't want them all in the same place in town," Stepper said.

Bergman assured the council that they are still working on a method for disbursing the grants.

Mayor Newell Arnerich suggested, "Maybe there's a window of maybe two weeks or three weeks where we accept applications but we won't act until the end of that time."

Calabrigo explained that the application process began March 27. He suggested keeping it open until April 10 or 17.

After further discussion the council agreed to keep application period open until April 10 and then make decisions as to which retailers will be given the grant funding.


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