SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Back in July 2020, the building that housed the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce was torn down. As recently as April, the city bought the land from the previous owners. Now, a $700,000 grant from the state will help them decide what to do with it.

The plot of land sits at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and State Street in Salem. It had been owned by a private owner beforehand but since it sat vacant for almost two years, the city got involved.

“If we wanted to control what would go in there, I’d be remiss not actually coming to council and asking them what their feelings were on it,” said Salem Mayor John Berlin.

“We didn’t want something to go into Salem that wasn’t going to look like Salem, simple as that,” said 3rd Ward councilman Dennis Plegge.

Now, the question becomes, what to do with it? Thanks to the state’s $700,000 grant, they have options.

“To decorate it. To make it a leisure park, not a park where someone can play. It’s not going to be like a city park where someone can play baseball or volleyball in there,” Plegge said.

The area currently sits in Plegge’s ward. He compared what he wants to what Canfield and Lisbon have, with a gazebo built in the middle.

But some on council think more could be done.

“I would like to see possibly a balance between that. Maybe some green space with also retail, maybe some housing above that,” councilman at-large Andrew Null.

That section is already zoned for commercial use.

“It is one of the busier corners in town. It is right downtown so I just think that makes sense,” Null said.

But Plegge says there’s plenty of places for businesses to move in downtown, plus, a business in that area wouldn’t work.

“There’s really no good parking there for a business. If you put a business up there, there’s only going to be three to four good parking places for you,” Plegge said.

The next thing for council to do is accept the $700,000 grant.