Anyone who has had the opportunity to be in downtown Willard in the last couple of years can see the simple majesty that once was a small-town main street.
Following years of suburban flight and extra strip malls and fast food chains, many downtown areas including Willard right here in Huron County have seen better days.
We commend the Willard city council, at the behest of City Manager Brian Humphress, for starting the application process for nearly a half-million dollars in funds for downtown revitalization. A total of $400,000 for a two-year downtown project will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) through the Ohio Department of Development.
Some may look at this as "pork" in the fiscal responsibility sense of the word, but we should look at the good to be done with revitalization of the downtown area of a fine city. The fact that Willard will be matching the federal amount with $300,000 from the city treasury is an expression of ownership of the project, as is the intent shown by the 30 downtown Willard merchants looking at obtaining forgivable loans (read "grants" after all the criteria are met) for the project.
"Strong downtowns are a vital part of the local economy, and we are pleased to help Ohio's communities revitalize their central business districts," said then Lieutenant Governor Bruce Johnson in 2005.
We agree and look forward to reporting on the downtown revitalization in Willard and the positive impact on the city and the county as a whole in the years to come.