LODI — Village officials are taking steps big and small to promote Lodi.
The village has worked with the county to obtain grants for capital improvements, which it has used to polish up the downtown.
“For some reason it has a bad image, and it shouldn’t,” said Lodi Historical Society President Letha Mapes, who recently returned to Council after resigning in 2011.
“It’s always been a good place as far as I can remember, and that’s been lost the last few years. We have a very proactive Council, and we’re just trying to do a lot of revitalization.”
In 2012, Mapes formed Destination Lodi, a group that works with village officials to promote the village and make it more attractive and inviting, focusing on main streets, history and business.
With the cooperation of Council before her return, Mapes and the group acquired new flower pots, flags and “Destination Lodi” banners for downtown.
The Destination Lodi signs bear rhododendrons, a flower well known for adorning Woodlawn Cemetery. They’ve also planted some of the pink flowers on the central lawn around the village’s newly restored iconic Indian statue that has been there since 1888.
The statue and its fountain were refinished last year with a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Ohio Department of Development.
Residents can also buy rhododendrons from the Lodi Rotary Club, Mapes said.
On Monday, the village will put more block grant dollars to work when a blighted field house is demolished at the Letha House Park ballfields — the site of the village’s annual Corn Festival.
More funding will be used to renovate the village office bathrooms for handicap accessibility and for putting a new roof on the Lodi Community Park restrooms.
“We’re taking a renewed interest in improving the overall look of the town, using up some of these limited funds,” Mayor Rob Geissman said.
Geissman said Medina County commissioners have given the village a partial grant to pay for a review of the village’s comprehensive plan. The county’s Planning Office will help assess the village’s goals for development.
In the interim, Geissman said officials have a renewed zeal for enforcing rules that make the town look better.
“We’ve started to actually enforce zoning codes to the book, which is something we hadn’t done in a while,” he said.
He said new Zoning Inspector Jim Brandenburg has hit the ground running, enforcing sign ordinances — proper places and sizes — fencing rules and home improvements, making sure homeowners have building permits and zoning certifications. They’re also cracking down on things like high grass and junk cars.
“We want people to take pride in their homes and the village they live in, and we think it’s important for village officials to do the same with village property, so we’re just trying to take care of those things,” he said.
Police Chief Keith Keough said his officers intend to issue tickets for violations.
“We’ve been a lot more active in enforcing some of the ordinances,” Keough said.
Keough said his first few years in Lodi were focused on cleaning up some of the village’s more severe issues, like drug dealing and addiction, which he said he feels confident they have that under better control now.
“The bigger issues overshadowed some of the smaller ones,” he said. “But I think we’ve sent a message, and those with drug issues understand our zero tolerance policy, which has freed us up to concentrate on other issues like garbage cans and parking.”
Geissman said that making Lodi look inviting is the key to growth, something he and Mapes both want to see.
“Growth is what pays the bills,” Geissman said. “We’ve got lots of land that could be developed. I’d like to see more single-family homes. We have a lot of multifamily housing already. But there’s also light industrial and commercial property that businesses can move into and there’s room to develop as well.”
“I want Lodi to be known for a good family friendly community,” Mapes said. “We want to welcome young families and retired people.”
Geissman said Lodi is unique among Medina County towns and villages, and its characteristics make it a place that almost sells itself.
“There’s no other village that offers what Lodi offers,” he said. “Everything’s there that you need, so you don’t have to go to the city. We’d like to keep that small village feel but still offer those amenities that people need so they don’t have to leave town.”
Mapes says it’s the small things that will keep residents feeling like Lodi is home.
“We had several concerts last year, and we’re having more this year. We’re having an arts and craft show, new shops, an antique store and art gallery, and we’re having an ice cream social in August,” she said.