Members of the Urban Enterprise Association voted on Tuesday to give more money — another $20,000 — to the owner of Procopio's Pizza and Pasta for ongoing improvements to the restaurant at 127 N. Second St.
Procopio Palazzolo went before UEA members to request help with projects totaling $43,000 as he expands into the building next door, citing how much his contributions — since moving the popular Italian eatery downtown three years ago — have spurred others to open downtown restaurants as well.
“Four years ago, when I started this project, there was nothing downtown, and now we’re exploding with restaurants,” Palazzolo said to UEA board members.
Palazzolo continued his appeal for funding by saying he’s thrilled by downtown's continued growth, and he feels blessed to be a part of it, but he wants to continue his own work.
Board members agreed that the work done by the pizza parlor owner has been wonderful, but a lengthy discussion ensued about how much additional funding should be given to Palazzolo’s business.
As the end of the year approaches, and funds inevitably dwindle, the board debated how best to manage the remaining monies. They, of course, want to reward those like Palazzolo who bring much to the community, but they also want to spread the wealth to other residents and business owners, too.
Board member Dan Osborne pointed out that, even though the UEA has given to Palazzolo upwards of $20,000 for improvements already, they've given to Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom even more.
“There’s another pizza place at the other end of Main Street that’s gotten about $60,000 in funding (from the UEA),” he said.
In the end, the board voted to fund nearly half, or $20,000, of Palazzolo's funding request.
Aaron Bauer voted against the measure while Jonathan Feavel, Palazzolo's attorney, abstained.
“The project is beautiful and Procopio’s commitment is beyond anybody,” Bauer said. “I just wanted to spread the money around.”
The UEA received two other funding requests Tuesday from Pastor Debbie Salters, Thursday Church, and Jim Johnson.
Salters wants to replace some large wood windows on the downtown church building at 218 Main St. as they've begun to rot away.
“We have some windows that look really nasty,” Salters said as she passed out photos of the damage.
“We average over 500 people each week between our Thursday and Sunday services,” she said. “So this building affects a lot of people.”
The board unanimously approved funding 50% of Salters' request, which will provide $5,500 for the improvements.
Vincennes resident and property owner Jim Johnson requested from the UEA $7,590 for new windows and a door for his property at 115 N. Second St., which will soon house a skin spa. Johnson says they already had a jumpstart on the project, but that he would be grateful for some help.
Board members unanimously voted to fund 50% of Johnson’s request to help him finish those improvements. He's renovated and made improvements to other buildings in that block as well, members noted.