HAWARDEN—Downtown Hawarden was the main topic of the night at the Hawarden City Council’s July 24 meeting.
Work is underway on upgrading the streetlights in downtown Hawarden. At the time of the meeting, only a few of the old poles remained, and wiring work for the new ones had begun.
Hawarden city administrator Mike DeBruin expected a few of the new poles to start coming up shortly.
Then, everyone will “get a real look at what these will look like,” DeBruin said.
Back in May, the city approved the bid for that project at just under $500,000, which includes almost all aspects of the project, such as the streetlight poles, boring, installation and the taking down of the previous streetlights and their bases.
The project will bring 21 new decorative streetlight poles to Hawarden’s downtown area, similar to the ones along Highway 10. Another 17 streetlights will also be installed on the side streets downtown, but they won’t be decorative.
The condition of the previous streetlights had degraded, and they were visibly rusting.
More downtown improvements
As street lighting upgrades take off, work has also started on improving the facades of downtown businesses. Such work would be done through the Community Development Block Grant program’s Downtown Revitalization Facade Grant.
Through this grant, a community could be awarded as much as $500,000 to fix up and improve downtown facades. Any actual work on improving wouldn’t likely begin until 2021.
Improving the odds of being selected for as one of the awarded communities means putting up matching funds, DeBruin said, and preferably as close to a 50/50 split between the grant program and local sources.
From what he’s heard from the people behind the program, the city can expect the cost to totally fix up a facade to be about $60,000-$65,000.
In addition to gaining support from city council members, DeBruin said the city must work to get Community & Economic Development and downtown business owners on board as well.
At a minimum, six businesses should be partner with the city on this to meet the program’s criteria. According to DeBruin, having at least 12 businesses would be ideal.
“If we can’t get that many on main street, we do have the ability to widen … it a block on either side,” DeBruin said.
When that is accomplished, those businesses will have to fill out pre-application forms that include photographs of the building and detailed descriptions of the different issues that would need to be addressed.
An architect will also be needed to do a rendering of the front of the building.
“If we’re successful with the grant, that same architect will then have to do historical studies with the building to find out if there’s historical significance or anything like that,” DeBruin said.
According to information included in the agenda packet, applications to the program will be scored on eight criteria:
n How appropriate that application is for CDBG funding.
n The amount of matching funds.
n The impact that the funds would have on the target area.
n How the proposed design would address contributing factors of what’s called slum and blight.
n If the scale and scope of the project fits within the program’s three-year time frame.
n The degree of community involvement with proposed downtown revitalization efforts
n If the project meets or exceeds Iowa Economic Development Authority’s minimum building and site design criteria.
n The degree to which the project is ready to proceed.
The city council members were in favor of contributing to the grant program.
Councilman Tim Kurth called for the city putting in 20 percent toward the project, saying “Anything we can do to help the businesses along. I know some are struggling already.”
That would leave Community Development to pitch in 5 percent and the business owners the remaining 25 percent to reach the goal of 50 percent in matching funds.
Because the actual work of improving the facades wouldn’t begin until 2021, that leaves the city with another year to budget for the project, DeBruin said.
“I think we could easily do 20 percent,” he said.