The former Owen's supermarket is at 302 W. Market St., Warsaw. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
The former Owen's supermarket is at 302 W. Market St., Warsaw. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
As a step toward transforming the former Owen’s property at 302 W. Market St. into workforce housing, the Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety Friday approved an invoice for $50,000 from Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.

The funds will be used for the housing pre-development revolving loan fund and come out of the Economic Development Income Tax professional services budget.

Jeremy Skinner, Warsaw community economic and development director, said, “The Council approved a transfer of funds a month and a half ago for this contract. Basically, it’s for the housing program that we’re putting together for the old Owen’s site. We approved the funds to be moved to professional services in EDIT. This is the contract where we’re paying those funds out to KEDCO to complete that work being done for the old Owen’s site.”

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer asked Skinner to explain how KEDCO was involved in the fund and their role in the city’s housing initiatives.

KEDCO is playing the role of the land consolidater, Skinner said. “They will be the entity that consolidates the land and then issues the contract for the services to go in and do our due diligence prior to closing on the property. This contract is kind of all-inclusive. At the same time, we’re using them to facilitate the development agreement with the potential developer of the site. So they’re kind of acting as that quasi-governmental agency on our behalf: To consolidate the land and to put the project together through the housing program that we’ve established and has them as the coordinator.”

Thallemer said KEDCO is going to be involved in administering the loan fund that’s been set up by Zimmer Biomet, Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation and Lilly.

“There’s $4 million in there that can be used for – not just the city, but the entire county – to initiate projects, to do redevelopment work, to do planning work, to try to identify a developer that then eventually will replenish this fund as properties are developed,” Thallemer said. “Just like any economic development, we need to spend some dollars to put together a deal, if you will; to find the right developer what the city needs to do. In this case, it’s workforce housing. KEDCO is handling that fund and they are somewhat centrally administrating that, which we will use, maybe at some point, when we purchase that property.”

He said there’s still a few hang-ups with the purchase of the Owen’s property that were anticipated and that they’re working through.

“Hopefully, within a few weeks, we’ll be ready to go on the old Owen’s property. In the meantime, we’re putting together a group,” he said. “We had a meeting this week to look at how we’d like to see that project develop on that property.”

Along with workforce housing, there are “other possibilities” with the project. Previously, Thallemer said that could potentially include a parking garage, a small grocery store or other businesses.

Every five years, the city likes to update its website. On Friday, Staci Young, assistant to the mayor, presented a $11,529 quote with CivicPlus for the website redesign. CivicPlus is the city’s current website provider.

“The best practice is to do it every three to five years. We’re trying to stick with the five-year schedule. Three years is more of your competitive company in the private market. Five years is kind of what we’re aiming for, so we’ve been on that schedule for the last couple of redesigns,” Young said.

The “meat and potatoes” of the website will remain the same, she said, but they’re adding new tools and navigation, as well as a “fresh” look.

Thallemer said the website “has been a critical, critical part of our communication tools. The ability to have that tool for our citizens to come to, and view our meetings and all the other department links and the ability to request. There’s just so many things that does.”

He said Young does a great job with the website and the city’s “metrics are through the roof with this thing. It’s utilized quite a bit. We’ve learned many years ago that this is probably one of the most critical tools we have to get the message out” in addition to the city’s social media.

Young said most of the city’s social media pushes to the website.

Bids for the Kelly Park pond improvements also were opened and the Board voted to take them under advisement. A recommendation will be made at the Sept. 3 Board meeting.

The bid from G & G Hauling & Excavating is for $589,143.67, and the bid from HRP Construction Inc. is $790,049.63.

In other business, the Board approved:

• A parking facility lease with Phillip J. and Maxine Harris for two years at $9,000 per year. The lot is on the west side of Buffalo Street, just north of the Z Hotel. The city leases the parking lot and then goes out and fills those spots, Thallemer said. He talked to representatives of Zimmer Biomet and they are still in need of those spaces for the hotel.

• The annual software agreement with AE Boyce for $3,190 for the wastewater utility payment office.

• An invoice for $1,061.16 from the Indiana Department of Transportation for closing the Market Street project. The invoice is expected to be the final payment to close out the Market Street project, which has been done for a couple of years now.

• A contract for DJ services with Derek Tenney for $250 for Daddy’s Little Sweetheart Dance Oct. 1-2. The dance is 6 to 8 p.m. each night at Center Lake Pavilion. Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Director Stephanie Schaefer said sign-up for the dance begins Sept. 7 and runs through Sept. 21.

She said they’re doing the dance this year in October because of COVID, but will start back up in February.

• For Street Department Superintendent Dustin Dillon to apply for the 2022 IPEP Safety Grant. The grant is for up to 80% of the cost of safety equipment and, if received, will be used to purchase safety equipment for Street Department employees.

• The closure of a block off Indiana Street between Center and Canal streets for the Boy Scouts of America Lincolnway Cubmobile on Sept. 18. The road closures will be from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the event being from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• The closure of East Clark Street between North Lincoln Street and North Lindberg Drive on Oct. 9 from 4 to 11 p.m. for a neighborhood block party.

• The closure of the southernmost part of Laurelwood Drive, which runs east to west and intersects with Highlander Drive,  on Sept. 25 from 2:30 to 9 p.m. for the Park Ridge Community Association gathering of neighbors.

• The new hire and change in payroll report, as presented by Human Resource Director Jennifer Whitaker. There are two co-op students who will be joining the fire department part time in an agreement with their school – Kevin Terrazas and Dakota Pass. They start Monday at $7.25 an hour.  Whitaker said potentially there are more coming on board at different departments, but she’ll bring those to the Board at a later date.