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Last year, Northwood struggled with reduced revenue that sparked lay-offs and other budget tightening measures, to improve its financial condition. It also put a proposed income tax rate increase on the ballot, which was defeated by voters.

By the end of the year, the city had collected revenue that was approximately $500,000 more than the previous year, thanks to the austere budget cuts.

As the area continues to reel from the economic recession, the city is hoping to change course with a plan that sets goals for the future.

Councilman Dave Gallaher, acting chairman of the city’s Economic Development Committee, said the city will be reviewing its comprehensive master plan, or land use plan, which was updated in 2004.

“We’re going to go back to it, and try to gage how we’re doing. We’ll be checking to see where we’re at, how successful we’ve been, in spite of the economy, and what we can do as far as making some long term plans and trying to identify some short-term goals,” he said.

The Service Committee and the Recreation Board will also be reviewing parts of the master plan, he added.

“That doesn’t really have a lot to do with economic development, but it does have to do with the comprehensive plan. While we’re going through it, there’s really no point in just doing one part of it. We’re going to look at the entire plan and go from there,” he said.

The Economic Development Committee also expects to generate ideas to attract business and development, despite little money in the budget.

“We’re trying to regroup and get going. It’s a slow time. We’re trying to get a plan of action so we can take advantage of things if they pick up a little bit. There’s not money available to do things like this. But we still have to have a plan. Just because money is tight, we cannot give up trying to make things a little bit better. We have to work toward a goal. At some point, we may have to decide how important is a certain project – is it something we may want to put money into, or is it something we may want to budget for next year. So we’re trying to develop plans for the future. If they look like they might pay off, and it’s something we want to do sooner, then we’ll have to identify a funding source and see what we can do,” he said.

The city has applied for funding with Wood County, which was selected by the Environmental Protection Agency for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant. The county’s coalition partners are Northwood and the Northern Wood County Port Authority.

Community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct an estimated 10 Phase I and seven to eight Phase II environmental site assessments, according to the EPA. Grant funds also will be used to inventory sites, conduct cleanup planning, and support community outreach activities.

The Brownfields Program provides funds to communities to clean up and reuse Brownfield sites, which may be tainted by hazardous waste, pollutants, or contaminants. The EPA provides assistance through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants.

The EPA selected Wood County for a $250,000 Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant because its unemployment rate of more than 11 percent is higher than the state and national averages, and its tax base has been significantly reduced due to job losses and the presence of abandoned industrial and commercial sites. The financial shortfalls facing the county and its communities have limited the availability of resources necessary to address Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment. Assessment of Brownfields is expected to provide information about site contamination, leverage state and private funds for site cleanup, and catalyze redevelopment.

“We have to get in line to see if we can identify a project for that,” said Gallaher.

City Administrator Dennis Recker said the city will advertise the program to get the word out to those who might have a site affected by petroleum products that could be a candidate for the Brownfields grant.

“Any polluted sites can be submitted by private, government, or corporate individuals,” he said.

Then there will be a screening process of coalition members, followed by a decision making process to weigh and score the sites to determine which is the most suitable to be remediated, he said.
 
 

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