MONTPELIER — The village has the opportunity for a major facelift if it receives approval of a $750,000 Neighborhood Revitalization Grant later this summer.
Resurfacing sections of a half-dozen downtown streets and demolishing the abandoned former church at 220 Empire St., are two of the 11 potential projects to be addressed if the application is successful, village leaders revealed during a public information meeting Thursday at the village fire station.
The 11 priority projects were culled from a list of nearly three dozen identified by village residents during a recent survey earlier this year as part of the NRG application process, according to Village Administrator Jason Rockey.
“This is not just projects (the village) wants. We want to do the projects the residents want. And now we can use this list as a village priority list,” Rockey told about 20 attendees at the meeting, which included several council members and village staffers.
The proposed projects include more than a half-dozen street and parking lot resurfacings, a demolition and exterior improvements to buildings on West Court Street.
Street improvement projects almost always include sidewalk repair, too, said Timothy Bock, a principal with Poggemeyer Design Group, which is assisting the village in its application.
“We tried to focus not necessarily on the largest number of projects, but on the ones that have the most effect to improve the neighborhood,” Rockey said.
Bock echoed that focus, saying the state wants to see projects “that improve existing conditions in a neighborhood that is not in good shape.”
Bock said construction costs for the 11 projects total about $719,000, with the balance of the grant used for administration fees, the costs of public notices and other miscellaneous expenses.
The NRG provides funding for communities to take on specific projects to improve neighborhoods in distress. The majority of the neighborhood residents must qualify as federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Low-to-Moderate income areas, and in Montpelier, that includes the neighborhood generally north of the railroad tracks, Water and Snyder streets to the south, Pleasant and Lawrence streets to the east and the cemetery to the west.
Rockey also noted that HUD, at the last minute, reduced its boundary for the village’s LMI, and said as a result the village may conduct its own survey in an attempt to widen the LMI-qualifying boundary, so that more of the village qualifies for NRG funds.
The NRG is a competitive program and communities with the greatest financial leverage, and public participation, have a better chance to be approved, according to Paul Z. Tecpanecatl, a principal with Poggemeyer. During the meeting, the village identified about a half-dozen potential projects — such as the latest $2.3 million phase of the ongoing sewer system improvement project, and the proposed $800,000 upgraded utility metering project — that could be used as leverage to increase the chance of the NRG application being approved.
Also, the village received about 13 percent response from its surveys, and Thursday’s meeting was an opportunity to try and increase that to closer to 20 percent, Rockey said.
“The attendance tonight helps bolster the public participation aspect of (the grant application),” Rockey said.
The village application is expected to be reviewed by the Williams County Commissioners today. It will then be forwarded to the state. The deadline for application is June 14, and the village should hear of a decision by August, Tecpanecatl said.