BLANCHESTER — As things begin to reopen and residents are vaccinated, the Village of Blanchester is looking at ways to make things better for locals.
Mayor John Carman and Blanchester officials are hoping 2021 soon brings a return to a sense of normality by the beloved annual Red, White and Blanchester Blue Fourth of July festival.
“We’re talking with the Chamber (of Commerce) about the Fourth. We need to talk to our health department to see what to do about the gathering,” said Carman. “The plan is that by the Fourth of July things will be much better.”
Of course, one thing that’s been on the mind of Carman and everyone in the village is what to do in the downtown area. In 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blanchester’s historic downtown building — known as the Bindley Block — caught fire. The heavily damaged building was torn down, leaving a large void in the village.
Carman told the News Journal they’re looking at what opportunities can be gained from this. The area was purchased by United Dairy Farmers (UDF) which is constructing a new building in the village. Carman is still waiting to see what they’re planning before making any moves.
“We want to honor its legacy. It was sad to lose a historical building. But in a way it does lead to opportunities for new growth,” he said.
But the mayor and others are looking at what can be done for the downtown area as a whole.
“We have some projects for downtown. We’re trying to apply for grants for our Main Street projects,” said Carman. “We’re trying to get (Main Street) to mirror Broadway Street with improved lighting and sidewalks.”
At a previous council meeting, Councilmember Reilly Hopkins proposed a project to “give residents more food options and a reason to get out and walk downtown.”
Basically, Hopkins proposal would utilize the former Dewey’s parking lot on Broadway Street and invite food vendors and trucks to set up.
“The money is there and the project comes down to whether council can see the future investment or not,” said Hopkins. “This proposed project is more than just ‘a couple tables and some lights’.”
He hopes Carman and the rest of the council approve it so they can move forward and “give back to the residents.”
Other projects include completing and improving their five-year comprehensive plan, updating Blanchester’s zoning code to unify it with the rest of Clinton County, working on their municipal building, and hopefully bringing in more businesses.
“We want people to be safe and mindful and we hope to things open up again in the next month or so and to be more interactive with locals,” said Carman.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574