In its ongoing support of rural communities, the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council, announces the 2021 communities taking part in its national initiative, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design. The City of Chillicothe is one of 15 communities selected for the Design Learning Cohort in which leaders participate in peer learning.
"We are excited to have access to technical expertise that will strengthen the preservation of the Armory through deliberate and thoughtful community engagement," said Luke Feeney, Mayor of Chillicothe. “This opportunity will assist the City in creating an enriching community space accessible for all residents and serve as a catalyst for the continued revitalization of Chillicothe.”
The 18-month program will include training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques; one-on-one technical assistance on their community design challenge; and support in navigating funding opportunities. The City of Chillicothe will partner with the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library and Ross County NAACP to lead this planning effort.
"Deliberate planning makes the community feel engaged," said James Hill, director of Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library. "When an area grows with input from the neighborhood, everyone is heard and involved in the process. Having a plan in place that everyone likes means civic organizations, like the library, can incorporate systematic changes in our long-term planning to embrace those ideas. It's a win-win for everyone."
The design challenge will bring planning and community engagement into the current effort for the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Armory to a modern, functional facility that provides a meaningful civic space and integrates the rich culture and history of Chillicothe.
"I look forward to working with Citizen Institute on Rural Design and our team to see how we can enhance and revitalize buildings as we cultivate our dwelling place here in Chillicothe," said Adrienne D’Souza, president of the Ross County NAACP.
Since 1991, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design has worked in communities with populations of 50,000 or less to enhance quality of life and economic vitality through planning, design, and creative placemaking. To date, the Arts Endowment has engaged more than 100 communities in all regions of the country.