Orange’s hopes riding on grant application
Boarded up building in the center of Orange. If successful, a federal grant would provide the money for improving the facades of buildings in the downtown area to make the downtown are more attractive to visitors and prospective businesses. Recorder/Paul Franz
Boarded up building in the center of Orange. Recorder/Paul Franz
66 West River St in Orange. Recorder/Paul Franz
ORANGE — Town officials are waiting anxiously to hear about their community development grant application, as the funding is critical to continuing the town’s progress improving infrastructure, businesses, housing and social services.
Community Development Director Kevin Kennedy said that the $700,000 grant would drive the town’s economic development agenda.
He said town officials will know by July whether the grant, which was submitted in February, is awarded.
Kennedy said that while community development grants are highly competitive, Orange has generally had a strong history of winning these awards due to its low-income status. However, the town’s 2012 proposal was not awarded.
While Kennedy and his staff have been careful to make their proposal to meet all criteria, “The application is complex. There are quite a lot of ways in which in application can be disqualified. There’s a lot riding on this grant application,” he admitted.
If awarded, the grant will fund the following projects:
∎ $347,000 for upgrading of sewer and water system, sidewalks and roads in the Church Street neighborhood, including parts of East River, Church, Adams, Hayden and South Main streets. This project is an extension of the work that has been done in recent years in the Hayden Street area.
∎ $26,000 to support Seeds of Solidarity in food security projects serving Orange residents, including the training, development and support of approximately 40 youth leaders who will assist in the following two projects:
∎ Creation of educational raised bed vegetable gardens that beautify downtown locations (the site of the expanded North Quabbin Community Cooperative and the food pantry are projected sites)
∎ Education and outreach to engage low-income families and elders in an introductory farmshare program in partnership with the North Quabbin Community Cooperative.
∎ $93,000 for modernization of West River Street Housing Development. The application speaks about the extreme need for upgrading the property’s exterior.
∎ $108,000 for improving the facades of buildings in the downtown area to make the downtown area more attractive to visitors and prospective businesses. In the proposal, Kennedy included photographs of some neglected and abandoned downtown commercial properties which had peeling paint, empty sign posts, boarded up windows and neglected exteriors.
∎ $126,000 for salaries of Community Development staff. Kennedy is the director, and Wendy Johnson is the program manager and administrative assistant. Both are full-time salaries, paid in full by the grant.