In 2006, the City of Wayne, along with the Nebraska Department of Roads repaved the streets, reconstructed sidewalks, and installed historic lighting along Main Street for a total cost of more than $2 million. While necessary, some of the improvements overlooked the need for accessibility as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In 2009, the City applied for and received a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant for Downtown Revitalization from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). Safety concerns and ADA accessibility were brought to the table during the Phase I planning process. In addition to installing ADA-approved curbing and markings there were several locations where uneven and crumbling sidewalks needed to be replaced. These hazardous and inaccessible environmental issues qualified the area for blight status. During the Phase I planning, the committee identified the neediest section of the downtown featuring the worst sidewalks in the district to fix in addition to correcting exterior ADA problems along that route.
During the planning session it was also noted that many downtown building façades were in need of repair. Façade improvements ensure better visibility of the building and tend to be more inviting to the public. These improvements also will meet another goal of the Downtown Revitalization Plan.
In addition to the CDBG funding, the City recommended that businesses provide a 25% match for façade improvements and it would then cover the remaining costs of additional necessary sidewalk improvements.
Driving forces behind the project included Wayne Area Economic Development, Wayne Community Housing Development Corporation, Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, the Wayne Downtown Revitalization Committee and many local businesses.
Wes Blecke, executive director of Wayne Area Economic Development, said, “I think the funding came at a perfect time for Wayne. It allowed businesses and property owners to continue to invest in their buildings at a nicely reduced rate. It will be interesting to see how this will impact the downtown in 2012 and beyond as the economy continues to recover and grow.”