- Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:48
- Published on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 00:48
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The Montross Revitalization Committee met last Thursday with representatives of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Associate Director, Denise Ambrose and Community Development Specialist, Kyle Meyer, met with the group to iron out contract negotiations for the administration of the community development block grant in the amount of $530,000 recently approved for the Town of Montross.
Montross business owners will put up a combined amount of $331,000 of private funds to add to the $530,000 of Community Block Grant Development funds awarded to the town for revitalization of the business district. To date private building owners have committed to $251,000 in private funds and those wishing to utilize money in the facade improvement program will put up another $80,000 total matching funds.
Montross Town Manager, Brenda Reamy was pleased to inform Ambrose and Meyer of the ambition of the Westmoreland County Museum, which has already began renovations in anticipation of the block grant.
Ambrose outlined the project activities which include, facade improvements to 20 identified blighted private properties using $80,000 of block grant money and matching funds from the town.
The town will also be allowed $140,000 in revolving loan funds to assist approximately seven businesses with eligible entrepreneurs who are willing to create new jobs. A total of 6 full time jobs will need to be made through various businesses utilizing these loans, 4 of which must be given to individuals who currently make moderate to low income wages.
Facade loans of $80,000 are available to assist building owners with necessary matching funds to improve their buildings’ outside appearance. Business owners will put up 50% of the repair costs, while the grant will pay the other half.
Also included in the project is the improvements to the three major pedestrian crosswalks located at and near the crossing on the 45 degree bend in Route 3 located in the center of town.
Two gateway signs on both the East and West entrances to the town, as well as various directional way-finding signs throughout the town will be installed.
Streetscape and landscape improvements include benches, trash cans, bike rack, etc.
The town also will be afforded money to help develop a town website.
The town already has an Economic Restructuring Plan in place but the contract requires the town to update and refine it to meet the needs of the grant project.
Ambrose discussed the responsibilities of the management team and the town government defining who will oversea the different projects to be completed.
The management team will meet frequently to handle needed applications of the project and report the status of activities completed.
The town will be in charge of enforcing the removal of identified blight within the project area. Contracts for removal of blight have already been signed by almost 20 businesses, so the group does not anticipate any problems in that area.
The town will also address vacancies in the project area by ensuring that new businesses are recruited.
Results of the recent town surveys will help the town identify needed businesses, allowing them to target the types of goods and services lacking in Montross.
Ambrose explained to the group that a separate committee will need to be formed to oversea the $140,000 revolving loan fund set aside for improvements and it must ensure that the businesses taking advantage of these loans meet the required quota of job creation talked about earlier. Ambrose cautioned that although at least one loan officer should be on this committee, the members should not all be made up of bankers.
Business owners who are interested in utilizing these funds should stop by or call the town manager, Brenda Reamy, for more information.
Ambrose made sure to verify that money loaned from the $140,000 program will not be used to pay the matching funds in the facade improvement program which only contains $80,000.
The group reported to Ambrose that they have broadband available through MetroCast, are working towards procuring an Architect/Engineer and have a good mapping system to show what streetscape and landscaping projects are to be completed.
The group originally had planned to utilize a VDOT enhancement grant to match money from the CDBG but VDOT has put a halt to money for new projects. However the absence of the enhancement grant will have no bearing on the road work that was planned in the original project.
The group hammered out a punch list of activities that need to be completed before the town can enter into the contract with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Meyer went through the list with the group and only found two items that seem to be of any concern, a completed project management plan and adopting an anti-displacement plan.
All of the other 14 items discussed were either finished or almost complete. The group has 90 days to complete these tasks and Meyer said they anticipate signing the contract by December 27.
— Linda Farneth