Uptown/Downtown solicits donations

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nonprofit seeks funding through GoFundMe

By WINONA WHITAKER
Courier staff writer

ELDON — Eldon’s Uptown/ Downtown is actively recruiting donors to fund its plan to revitalize the small community’s downtown area. The nonprofit’s first project is the creation of an outdoor courtyard on property the group purchased adjacent to the McHaffey Opera House.

"The purpose of our group is to restore, revitalize and maintain Eldon’s business district," explained Donna Jeffrey, treasurer of the organization. Uptown/ Downtown is seeking funding from government entities as well as from private citizens for its first project.

"The city’s contributing funding, and we’re going to ask the county to contribute some funding," Jeffrey said. Jeffrey, Shirley St! acy and Holly Berg will approach the Wapello County Supervisors Tuesday morning at their regular meeting "to ask the supervisors for support," Jeffrey said.

The organization plans to seek a Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the project. The CDBG program is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It provides communities with resources for a wide range of

community improvements including preparation of a historic preservation plan for the community including "preserving historic downtown areas or neighborhoods or for appropriate reuse of their historic structures," according to HUD.

To solicit donations from the community, Uptown/ Downtown started a GoFundMe page, which has collected $1,550 toward its $50,000 goal.

Uptown/Downtown tells visitors to GoFundMe, "We have raised funds and applied for grants, but we can’t complete this project without your help. The estimate to complete the courtyard is $50,000."

Renovations to the courtyard include saving the façade which, according to Uptown/Downtown, "will require major tuck pointing." The floor of the courtyard will be elevated using composite materials, which are expensive but "nearly maintenance free," the organization said.

Part of the money will be used to furnish and decorate the courtyard with tables, chairs and planters.

Uptown/ Downtown was organized in October 2015. Its GoFundMe page declares that more than 20,000 visitors come to Eldon each year to the American Gothic House and Center, the Eldon Depot Museum, the McHaffey Opera House, Hollenbeck Hall, the Lockkeeper’s House and the Eldon Carnegie Library, which are all on the U.S.

Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places. Eldon is also working to become a Main Street Community, Jeffrey said.

The Main Street Iowa program helps communities organize to revitalize their commercial districts.

Uptown/Downtown asks donors to "help us turn our business district into something we can all be proud of." Its GoFundMe page can be found at https:// www. gofundme.com/uptown-downtown.

Reporter Winona Whitaker can be contacted at wwhitaker@ottumwacourier. com and followed on Twitter @courierwinona.

Category: Main Street

Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation 217 East Main Street Ottumwa, Iowa  52501
Phone 641-682-3465 Fax 641-682-3466 info@ottumwaiowa.com