Garrettsville Strong, a committee formed to help the community and businesses recover from a fire that destroyed a historic commercial block last month, asked Portage County commissioners for $76,700 in Community Block Development Grant money Thursday.
The funds would be used to install a wide sidewalk, landscaping and vintage light posts along the front of the Main Street block.
Supporters said that would add to the effort of the block’s four property owners to rebuild.
In its presentation, the committee showed “before” photos of buildings that dated to the mid-1800s and the “after” photos showing how the March 22 fire ravaged them.
In all, 34 area fire departments respond to the blaze in which more than a dozen businesses were lost.
Tommie Jo Marsilio, a Garrettsville resident and former county commissioner who is serving as the committee’s grant coordinator, said it appears just about every business owner was underinsured.
“From what I hear — and I’ve talked to everybody — nobody could build the quality of building that was there,” Marsilio said. “With that in mind, there is a very real possibility you might have some folks that won’t build, but may sell their commercial lot to someone else.”
A spruced-up “streetscape” would help attract development, Marsilio said, and “set things up so it’s beautiful.”
Other committee members are Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick, council member Becky Harrington and volunteer financial coordinator Christopher Perme.
There are ongoing fundraising efforts in town to help property owners and business tenants.
Harrington noted the outpouring of support in the small town and that she was “impressed by the many members of our community working right beside me to start the rebuilding and revitalization of our beautiful village after such a heartbreaking fire.”
The county has $287,000 available in state block grant money. Commissioners did not make a decision Thursday, and have until June to notify the state how they would like to allocate the money.