Downtown Development— Albion to make city improvements

The city of Albion finished in fourth place in the Reader’s Digest “We Hear You America!” competition – an online contest where residents voted for their towns in order to win money for city improvements. The result of this competition was a $10,000 check that was awarded to the city on April 25. Plans for the use of award money were discussed for several weeks–with a decision made at one of the most recent council meetings.

“What we do with the money was decided by the Albion city council,” said Albion Mayor Joe Domingo.

The Bohm Theater, roller rink, walking trail and community gardens were among the things that were mentioned when discussing the prize money distribution, Domingo said.

Andrew French, Albion city council member and professor of Chemistry at Albion College, said that the most popular idea was to put the prize money towards the Bohm Theater, which closed in 2008. With a 6-1 vote by the council, money to the Bohm Theater was officially approved.

“The council voted to give $8,000 to the Bohm and leave $2,000 to be awarded to groups and organizations that work with youth for over the summer programming,” French said.

The original idea of allocating all of the prize money to the Bohm Theater was voted down by the council 4-3, despite the fact that it was the most popular idea among the citizens who showed up at the meeting, French said.

Dawn Morgan, Albion resident, voiced a different opinion.

“I’d like to see the money go towards something that would benefit everyone, especially something to make the town look better,” Morgan said. “It needs to go to the town to improve the way it looks and maybe entice people to want to visit Albion.”

In addition to city improvements resulting from the Reader’s Digest award, other improvements for the downtown area were also approved.

“The council just approved a rezoning of our DDA (downtown development authority) territory (which will) allow property owners to apply for funding to renovate second and third stories to create low and moderate income apartments,” French said. “The cool thing about this opportunity is that recipients would be able to have their loans forgiven if their apartments remained occupied for five years.”

The renovations are planned to start soon, now that loan applications are available to apartment owners, French said.

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