Albion Betterment Committee urges village to work on ordinance for vacant buildings

Posted 21 September 2023 at 10:06 am


As many of us are aware, American culture has changed dramatically since the “old days” when soda shops and family-run hardware stores were the norm on every main street in small town America. It is true, as well, that “Santa Claus” doesn’t walk the sidewalks of our village year-round, and our historic mansions are no longer homes of millionaires.

The old idea of “main street” can’t be duplicated. In today’s culture, people rely on big box stores and online marketplaces for many of the items they used to make the trip to town to gather. For many small towns, through innovation, an entrepreneurial spirit, and cooperation within the community, a new “main street” has emerged.

Those of us who are operating businesses in Albion have a vision of a bustling Main Street corridor. We have poured our time and funds into unique shops and eateries in the village, and we see great potential for growth of the local economy through small, family-owned businesses.

Every summer, tourists visit Albion, either passing through on the canal, or driving in from local campgrounds or cottages. We want to offer them an experience they will want to return to, and tell their friends about.

For several years, there have been a number of buildings within the village that are left vacant and in various stages of deterioration. There are entrepreneurs who are seeking space in which to conduct their business either through purchase, or renting, and are willing to make the investment in the community. Albion’s downtown has the structure and appeal of a thriving, quaint village, but our development is stalled because storefronts sit vacant and unused instead of opening their doors to new businesses.

Last year, the Village Planning Board submitted a proposal to the Village Board of Trustees that would change the local ordinances, which when enforced would encourage vacant building owners to make changes.

We would like to see an improved proposal submitted at this time. There are many similar municipalities who have created ordinances that inspire the kind of change we would like to see, many of these are available as a matter of public record. We would like to see our local leaders follow their lead, and implement codes that have been proven to work.

On behalf of the Albion Betterment Committee, we submit this letter to the editor seeking support from the community to work together toward this vision.

Albion Betterment Committee directors

Gary Derwick

Gary Kent

Joe Gehl