A share of Portage Coun-
ty's allocation of Community Development Block Grant money will be going toward two highly visible projects that will mean big improvements in Garrettsville and Ravenna.
About $75,000 has been earmarked for restoration efforts in downtown Garrettsville, which was devastated by the $5 million blaze that destroyed the landmark Buckeye Block and other properties on March 22. The money will be used to replace street lighting and sidewalks and plant trees along Main Street, all of which will enhance the redevelopment of the village.
Garrettsville was dealt a major blow by the fire, which leveled a large part of its historic downtown area. Recovery will be a team effort, involving private investment as well as support from the public sector. The Portage County commissioners' decision to allocate part of the CDBG money -- a federal program administered locally -- is a welcome sign of the county's interest and involvement in the restoration of the village's business district.
Another project receiving funding from the county is the city of Ravenna's reclamation of a five-acre site between Main Street and Highland Avenue that was once the site of Smith & Cowan Coal and Supply Co. and a concrete facility that left the site littered with concrete slabs and other debris. About $70,000 in CDBG funding has been allocated for the restoration project, which also has received state brownfields funding. The area will be turned into a park, transforming a longstanding eyesore into a community asset in the downtown area.
Other projects set for funding are renovation of areas around the Skeels/Vernon Mathews Community Center in Ravenna Township and repairs to the roof at the Portage Learning Centers facility at the Ravenna Child Development Center. The four projects receiving funding were among 11 seeking CDBG money.
In funding the projects, county commissioners did a commendable job of sharing a modest amount of money among worthy recipients. Their decision probably wasn't an easy one, but the end result will be a boost for community improvement efforts.