Downtown Alliance asks city for account servicing

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

An association of property owners and merchants working to improve Lewisburg's public square has been awarded a $15,000 state grant to reimburse spending on several projects.

To proceed with plans, the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance needs the city, as a sponsoring entity, to receive receipts for expenses so bills could be forwarded to Tennessee which would draw down grant monies to pay project costs.

Projects include placement of "way-finding signs" that would help motorists travel to places of interest in Lewisburg such as the farmers market, a Civil War site or another notable place. Development of one of the vacant lots on the square into a mini-park is another proposal. Development and maintenance of an Internet Web site is another proposal to draw attention to the city's square.

Given the nature of the refundable grant accounting, Councilman Ronald McRady suggested that City Attorney Steve Broadway examine the grant documents. He noted that it appears to permit spending of money that is then paid back to the city.

Drawing money down from an established state account - established with grant money - is not unusual, but discussion during the council's November meeting did not delve into the intricate nature of grant accounting.

"It must be legal because the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development set it up," said Leland Carden, president of the LDA.

Since the council suspended its rules to hear Carden's report - a step taken because the grant wasn't verified in time for publication of the council's agenda - Mayor Barbara Woods suggested that the matter be placed on the agenda for the council's Dec. 13 meeting.

The LDA meets every third Tuesday night of the month, or one week after the council meeting.

Also during the Nov. 8 meeting, Carden told councilmen that the O'More College of Design in Franklin is taking steps toward having another summer class in Lewisburg such as one held here three and a half months ago. The class is called Studio on the Square.

"They have a professor who proposes to come back next summer," Carden told the council.

Design students draft plans for building renovation and then present their ideas to an audience of property owners, tenants and area business and government leaders.

Last summer one of the designs was for a mini-park using one of the two vacant lots on the square. It's one of the projects that would be funded with money provided through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.