HAUBSTADT — Haubstadt Town Council members Wednesday conducted the first of two required public hearings to apply for a blight clearance grant to help pay for demolition of the old Dewig Grain Elevator.

Wylie Ziegler, a representative from the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, led the hearing and provided a brief overview of the project timetable.

The grain elevator at 104 N. Main Street is no longer in use, and the town purchased the building in June in an effort to clear a blighted property.

"The use the town would like to see it for is to straighten the road, that's a hazard there," Ziegler said. "It's a light curve coming around that big building that is obstructing the roadway."

North Main is a thoroughfare in Haubstadt that connects it to Fort Branch and other main roads that lead to Ind. 68 and U.S. 41.

There were no specific accidents discussed as a result of the property, but town council president Kenny Reinbrecht said there have probably been a lot of near-misses. "The condition of the property is not good at all," Reinbrecht said. "Not good at all, a blighted eyesore."

Town Marshall Glenn Munnier said from his experience, the longer a property remains vacant, the faster it begins to deteriorate. Since the property was at one time a functional grain elevator, Munnier said there are vermin to consider that could increase as time goes on. "In addition to being a nuisance, now it will be worse soon," he said.

Zoning administrator Joe Gilpatrick echoed those concerns over the potential of increased vermin.

"It's a mess, and it has been a mess for quite a while," Gilpatrick said. "Like Glenn said, there's vermin all around there. It's going to get nothing but worse."

The town is applying for a Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant administered to the state on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Communities are able to apply for multiple projects up to a total of $500,000.

Haubstadt is applying for $110,000 in grant funds and plans to provide $13,800 of town funds for a project total of $123,800.

The $110,000 would all be put toward the demolition costs. Of the town funds, $5,000 is for the environmental review and $8,800 is for administration.

The proposal submission date is Dec. 15, but Ziegler said it could be submitted earlier. The next step would be a site visit from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which is required within one month of the proposal.

Another public hearing will be held in January for community members looking to comment on the project. According to the project timetable, work would tentatively begin in September 2019.

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