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08-18-04 Rockford can seek grant — with work

By Timothy Cox

  ROCKFORD -- The town can seek a grant aimed at economically distressed communities, but local residents will have to get behind the effort if it is to be successful, a county development official said.

  Also, the village could apply for up to $300,000 through the Community Development Block Grant distress program as soon as next summer due to a change in the rules. County officials are now allowed to apply for funding for two communities at the same time, said Susan McKanna, who works in the Mercer County Community Development office. Other grant programs also could be sought to provide matching money, she said.
  "It takes a lot of work and a lot of citizen participation," McKanna told village council members meeting Tuesday.
  To qualify, income surveys would have to show that at least 61 percent of the town's residents meet low- to moderate-income eligibility guidelines.
  It is up to village officials to canvas the community and get the surveys completed, McKanna said. The single-page forms are confidential, McKanna said; households are identified only by address with no names on the form. If the town meets the income guidelines, that qualification is good for three years.  "It's well worth the time to do these surveys," McKanna said.
  As village officials proceed, getting citizen participation is critical to winning the competitive grant awards, she said. Attendance at public meetings earns points toward the grant awards and shows state officials the community is committed to the plan.
  The grants can be used to fund a wide range of projects, including streets and other infrastructure, parks and recreation projects, historic preservation and other improvements.
  Council members also agreed to seek engineering estimates to get an engineer on board to help guide the planning of whatever project or projects village officials decide to pursue.
  Village utilities technician Tom Beahrs said possible projects include upgrades to the water plant, replacement of water lines or addressing serious drainage problems along Market Street.
  Mendon already has received the grant and has paired it with other grant money for the $750,000 reconstruction of South Main Street. Montezuma officials plan to seek funding next year.
  In other business Tuesday, council members:
   Awarded a bid to Wagner Paving, Anna, for $45,483, for paving of Holly Lane and the community building parking lot. Work also will include paving a 300-foot stretch of Railroad Street and a couple of alleys in town. The Wagner quote was the only bid received but was about half of original estimates, Beahrs said.
   Tabled a resolution that would approve the Mercer County Solid Waste District management plan. Council members want to talk with county officials about a fee that would be charged to property owners if the county sanitary landfill was ever closed.
   Approved the transfer of a liquor permit from Tabatha Roberts, former owner of Slammers, 157 N. Main St., to the California Grill, which is now operating at that location.


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