Towns receive millions in federal community development money

 MONTPELIER — Thirteen municipalities in Vermont will share in more than $4 million in federal dollars to provide economic development, low-income housing and recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.

Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced nearly $4.3 million in grants ranging from $19,000 to $850,000 from the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

“Spring is coming and soon these grants will lead to construction projects across state that will help improve communities, grow jobs and spur economic growth,” Shumlin said. “From Lyndon to Wilmington, these projects will help our small towns complete disaster recovery projects, create more affordable housing and further develop their communities.”

“While targeted to the needs of lower income Vermonters, these projects will benefit their towns in many ways and for years to come,” said Patricia Moulton, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. “Each will make their community stronger from building new affordable homes in the heart of Hinesburg and ensuring all residents can access the public library in Washington to repairing Brandon’s historic town office building.”

The town of Brandon received $500,000 to repair and rehabilitate the town office, which was significantly damaged during the flooding that followed Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

“Most of the project wasn’t FEMA eligible,” said Sen. Peg Flory, R-Rutland. “It left a huge gap and the town just can’t afford to do the work on it.”

Rutland County was the recipient of the single-largest grant award, with $850,000 going to NeighborWorks of Western Vermont in West Rutland, to be used to continue the organization’s loan fund for home repairs and energy efficiency improvements.

“NeighborWorks does a lot of good things for Rutland County. It’s definitely needed,” Flory said. “Rutland County sometimes seems the county that gets forgotten and so it’s really encouraging to see this.”

At the other end of the spectrum is Barre City, which received $19,830 to determine the feasibility of establishing Granite City Grocery, a proposed co-op grocery store, in downtown Barre.

“We are gong to use this funding for planning and organizing purposes to hire some critical skill sets that we don’t currently have on our board,” said Rebecca Pincus, who is on the Granite City Grocery board.

Picus said the grant will help the organization choose a location and start a capital campaign to make a downtown grocery store a reality.

“It will provide opportunities for those who are mobility limited and it will continue the great revitalization of downtown Barre that is going on,” Picus said.

Other grants include:

Athens — $412,620 for Tropical Storm Irene road repairs;

Brattleboro — $425,000 to Windham & Windsor Housing Trust for the rehabilitation of 29 units of affordable housing in town;

Chester — $108,000 for road repairs following Tropical Storm Irene;

Hinesburg — $675,000 to build 24 units of affordable housing

Lyndon — $500,000 to rehabilitate 28 units of low-income senior housing.

Rochester — $30,000 for affordable senior housing;

Warren — $275,000 to improve safety and accessibility in the village downtown;

Washington — $75,000 for improvements to Calef Memorial Library;

Wilmington — $300,000 to construct a downtown sidewalk.

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