Council approves Main Street grant to fund half of roof repairs at downtown business

Despite misgivings by two council members, the Huntington Common Council has approved a grant to help with roof repairs at a downtown business building.

Approval of the grant, which was recommended by Main Street Huntington, was given during the council's meeting on Tuesday, May 28. It will provide $4,648.50 to fund half the cost of repairing the roof at 24 W. Market St., a building owned by Tom and Lucille Morris.

Main Street Huntington, a volunteer organization, operates the downtown revitalization program using CEDIT funds allocated by the city council. Downtown building owners can apply for grants to fund the cost of roof repairs or facade improvements.

The grants have been available, and used, for several years.

Councilman Greg Davis, who was joined by Councilman Wayne Powell in voting against the grant, said he didn't believe city funds should be used to help pay for repairs to privately owned buildings.

"That's an investment property," Davis said. "I think it (paying for repairs) should be private."

Roof repairs, in particular, Davis said, don't contribute to improving the overall appearance of downtown.

But Rose Wall, spokesman for Huntington Alert, countered that improving the appearance of a building is pointless if the physical structure is allowed to deteriorate.
When the Main Street Huntington program was initiated, she said, city officials and volunteers decided to include roof repairs in the grant program.

"The problem that we saw ... was the condition of the roofs," Wall said. "If we just put the paint on the front of the building" without addressing the roof problems, "we're just wasting taxpayers' money."

Council members Paul Pike, Charles Chapman and Jack Slusser voted in favor of the grant. Members Joe Blomeke and Jim Long were absent.

In other business Tuesday:

• Mayor Brooks Fetters announced that the city will host a "Touch A Truck" event on June 15 from 9 to 11 a.m. A variety of city specialty vehicles will be on display in a parking lot at Jefferson and Franklin streets, near the courthouse.

• Fetters also announced that the city is assembling teams of eight to 10 volunteers to participate in a river cleanup program on July 27. Each team will clean a one-mile section along the river, he said.