Mantua Twp. – At the last meeting to discuss prospective plans for the Mantua Center School/Administration Building, over 60 residents braved the blustery weather to find out the results of community feedback regarding the historic township structure. Todd Peetz, from Portage County Regional Planning Commission again led the meeting.

MantuaCenterSchoolAccording to Peetz, the Township has owned the building since purchasing it from the Crestwood School District in 2004. By the end of 2014, the Township will have paid off the building. Peetz presented tabulated copies of suggested uses and residents’ thoughts on how the facility should not be used, as shared during last month’s community meeting, and feedback gathered through a survey administered at the Mantua-Shalersville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Overwhelming responses of those in attendance at the public meeting indicated that residents desire for the building to be used to house township offices, community center, senior center, community services or office space for rent. Feedback from the Chamber of Commerce survey showed that respondents concurred with those uses, and had several addition uses, including satellite Sherriff’s office, business incubator, retail space, and emergency shelter.

Mr. Peetz also did some investigating with various community organizations, and found that the Department of Family and Community Services may be willing to rent a room in the building. In addition, he suggested the township approach organizations like Hiram College as possible building tenants. In addition, he suggested that the township may be eligible for a variety of grants to help reduce the cost of building repairs and renovations, such as Regional Planning’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) grants or loans.

In addition, he also suggested researching the availability of historic preservation grants and matching funds, and deferred to the Mantua Restoration Society in that matter. He noted, however, that grants aren’t generally available unless the building’s use is planned or in use. Currently, the lower level of the building is available for rent, has been open on consecutive Wednesdays as a Community Center. The second floor houses the offices of the Township’s Fiscal Officer, Zoning Inspector, and township records storage.

The next step in the process is for Mr. Peetz to present his findings and recommendations to Mantua Township Trustees, which Peetz will do at their next regularly scheduled meeting on February 20th at 7:30 pm at the Township Hall.