By Jef Rietsma
The Vicksburg Foundation has stepped up to provide a financial boost to downtown businesses impacted by the village’s months-long infrastructure project.
Village Manager Jim Mallery said the agenda for the village council’s Oct. 4 meeting included a matter related to a $56,000 gift to be shared with 20 businesses as partial compensation for depressed revenue during the seven-months-and-counting project.
He said the foundation put the village in charge of administering the funds, which was expected to happen following council approval. Mallery said he developed criteria to determine compensation based on the severity of impact.
“Out of 40 businesses, 20 filled out the grant application. The grants are anywhere from $1,000 to $4,500 apiece, depending on the length of time that their business was impacted,” he said. “The businesses near Kalamazoo and Prairie streets, for example, were most impacted because that intersection has been torn up the past six months and their access to parking is so limited already.”
Mallery further elaborated: “Walk-in, retail-type stores had a higher priority than places that operate based on appointments … the hair salon and massage, all of them had their financial impact minimized due to the fact the majority of their customers are by appointment,” he added, noting there were four levels of compensation. “The foundation is an incredible blessing for the community; they’ve kicked in matching grants with the athletic boosters in the past and the foundation just continues to show its all-in support for the village.”
The village Council approved the grant process at its Sept. 20 meeting, a day before grant applications were distributed, Mallery said. The deadline was Sept. 30. Mallery said he expects the funds to be distributed shortly after council approval.
Mallery said some businesses that received funds dedicated their allowance to other businesses that had a greater need for the aid. Mallery said the “pay it forward” concept was also witnessed when COVID-19 funds were distributed to downtown businesses late last year.
In an unrelated matter centering on an abandoned residence in the 400 block of East Prairie Street, Mallery said a follow-up to an initial investigation took place in late September.
Mallery said there hasn’t been water service to the house in at least 10 years and possibly as many as 15 years. Mallery said its taxes are up to date.
The matter was brought to the attention of village officials during their August meeting, as neighbors complained about the presence of feral cats and other wild animals on the property.
“It’s been referred to as ‘the cat house’ but both times we’ve been there, it’s been during the day and there’ve been no cats there,” Mallery said. “There is a hole in the foundation that, I think, they’ve treated with some type of foam product, but that house, in its current state, remains uninhabitable.”
Mallery said an improvement-action plan has been created and, based on what he has been told, steps are being taken to remedy the situation. A status check took place in late September and Mallery said he was not advised of any issues toward progress in compliance with the improvement-action plan.
By Jef Rietsma