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City revives façade program with Block Grant monies


June 28, 2013
By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

HOLYOKE — The city has received an increase in is Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation from the federal government despite a 5 percent cut due to the sequester and it will be reviving façade improvement as part of its new program.

Linda McQuade, administrator for the Office of Community Development department, explained to Reminder Publications the city's share of CDBG funding rose about $40,000 from last year's figure to $1.1 million, despite the across the board cut due to the sequester.

Among the projects the city plans for the fiscal year that begins July 1 include $400,000 in renovations to Avery Field and Library Park. The Senior Center will get $75,000 for further improvements. There will be sidewalk improvements to increase pedestrian access in the area of Mosher Street with new sidewalks, handicapped accessible ramps, landscaping and lighting.

McQuade added that for the first time in years the city would be offering business owners assistance through a façade program. She said that Mayor Alex Morse has set aside $50,000 for approved applicants who wish to make improvements to the exteriors of their buildings.

These projects could include awnings, new windows or doors and signage. The funds, she added, could not be used for interior renovations. If a business has a retail operation on the first floor and apartments above it, the grant could be used to make improvements for the entire façade.

The façade program would require approved applicants to match a $25,000 grant with $25,000 of their own. McQuade said if the program proves popular, Morse would seek approval from the City Council to move additional city funds into it.

An additional $165,000 will be provided to agencies offering services for youth, elderly, employment, education, and domestic violence intervention.

McQuade noted there is currently a move in the House of Representatives to cut the CDBG program by half for the next fiscal year.

The Office for Community Development provides a CDBG Service Guide at its webpage at www.holyoke.org.

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