Ideas to stimulate interest in the 450th

Historic City News listened last night as City Commissioners heard from resident Colin Bingham, who helped create the First America Foundation, as he presented three new ideas that were well received: a 450th Improvement Club, marketing of two vacant city lots to reduce blight, and repair of the North City Train Station for use as a community center.

Bingham proposed a 450th Improvement Club, allowing residents and businesses who make improvements to their properties to gain a “Certificate of Participation” for “promoting the city’s heritage resources and cultural values.”

Bingham said it’s one way more residents can be a part of the 450th commemoration, and City Manager John Regan noted there would be little cost to the city.

“Businesses would be sought to donate yard signs or markers” of recognition, Regan said.

Bingham proposed to market two city-owned vacant lots, valued at $14,000 and $20,000, for single family homes, his role being a hub to put potential buyers, builders, and lenders together.

The effort, while modest, would bring improvement to those neighborhoods and spark more civic pride, he said.

Bingham proposed an agreement with the city allowing him to repair and lease the North City Train Station, closed several years ago as unsafe.

Historic Architect Dave Mancino two years ago estimated a cost of $1.2 to $1.8 million to restore the building, but Bingham said basic repair is in the $500,000-$600,000 range, and he believes he can find the money through historic preservation grants and train companies interested in the building’s history.

Commissioners endorsed Bingham’s 450th Improvement Club idea, but voted a two-week delay on his other ideas, to allow opportunity for others to make proposals.

“Mr. Bingham has come forward with these ideas,” City Manager John Regan said, “but we don’t want anyone to think we’re being unfair.”

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