By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — HOLLEY — Villagers expressed their feeling about the community’s charms and challenges Monday as the municipality gathered more information for the Holley Revitalization Strategy project.
The public forum is part of the first stage of a three-step Brownfield Opportunity Area Program aimed at assisting communities affected by brownfield lands. Brownfields are classified by the EPA as a property whose “expansion, redevelopment, or reuse ... may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
While the EPA is currently involved with the Diaz Chemical site within the village, the grant is targeted to help the larger community compete for business and grant funding.
“The economic impact (of brownfields) expands community-wide,” said Bergmann Associates Senior Project Planner Dan Sundell, whose firm is administering the study. “This is a tool to get the money for physical improvements and revitalization.”
Project Manager Kimberly Baptiste said the 90 percent state-funded program “essentially allows the village to get everything ready” for investment.
The gathering drew together more than 30 residents, business owners, school and municipal officials and gave them wide latitude to express the strengths of the community and propose potential improvement projects.
Mayor John Kenney said he’d like to see infrastructure projects to repair the village’s century-old waterlines.
“We need a better partnership with the state on these issues,” Kenney said. “We can make recommendations but the state can say no. It’s troubling.”
Daniel and Amanda O’Connell, were among the residents who got involved in the discussions Monday. Daniel suggested that the old high school could become a “makerspace,” a workshop for a variety of creative projects funded similarly to an athletics club. A similar project is being launched this month in the City of Rochester.
“We could host high-tech ideas,” said O’Connell, who moved to Holley three years ago because of affordable housing and the community’s potential. He also suggested attracting a downtown bar and a bike/kayak rental shop to take advantage of the Holley’s canal area.
While the old high school was the most frequently mentioned area that could be improved, villagers also highlighted the Diaz site, the Holley Hotel, a former commercial space at the intersection of State Routes 31 and 237 and the downtown business district. Sundell said the views expressed Monday are in line with those received in surveys collected online and at village events.
“We’ve found concerns about the vitality of the Village Square and the old high school building,” Sundell said.
While the impacts of the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program are likely a few years away, the village does have a means to address half of those concerns. Holley received $250,000 last month in the state’s consolidated funding program for 75 percent matching grants for building improvement projects in the downtown area.
The village will submit an application in March for the second-stage of funding. Baptiste said that step would provide a more comprehensive inventory of potential projects and master planning, which will in effect add onto the priorities expressed in Holley’s 2010 comprehensive plan.
For more information about the Holley Revitalization Strategy, visit www.revitalizeholley.com.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.