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Town allocates additional block grant money

July 31, 2018

GREENWICH — With $329,405 in extra money in hand, the town’s Community Development Block Grant Committee is issuing a series of recommendations on how it should be spent.

The committee has voted to authorize the release of the money to nine area non-profit organizations for capital projects. The recommendations include $64,197 to Family Centers Inc. for ADA accessible bathrooms; $61,014 for improved security at YWCA Greenwich; $54,302 to Abilis for wheelchair accessibility improvements to one of its group homes; and $50,000 for an elevator replacement at an apartment complex run by Inspirica.

“We ended up with a really good list of projects being funded,” committee Chair Alexis Voulgaris said Monday. “We specifically wanted shovel-ready projects so we would know that the money we gave would be spent now and not held over. I think the committee members worked really hard to find very worthy projects for us to consider.”

The $329,405 came from money left over in a contingency fund for block grant projects, and from returns to the town from projects that came in under budget or were canceled, according to town Community Development Administrator Tyler Fairbairn.

Money was also set aside in the recommendations for kitchen renovations at a Pathaways group home, a roof repair and heating and air conditioning replacement at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, a door replacement at Parsonage Cottage and an air conditioning replacement at Pacific House.

The recommendations will now go to First Selectman Peter Tesei for the first of several approvals they will need, ending with the Representative Town Meeting giving the final go-ahead. Before Tesei makes his decision, a public hearing will be held on Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

The committee received more than $1.4 million in requests for the available $329,405.

“It’s a challenge to be able to consider all of these worthy requests,” Voulgaris said. “The fact that we could get at least some funding to the majority of the groups that made requests is great. But anyone who we were not able to give money to is more than welcome to come back to us in early 2019.”

Fairbairn said he felt the committee had been fair in how it worked to allocate the money.

“Every application was a good one and it’s hard to cut anyone,” Fairbairn said.

The committee members conducted site visits to evaluate requests, and advocated for expenditures they thought were necessary, as committee member Alan Gunzburg did for the $54,302 to Abilis, which will help address long-standing accessibility issues at a group home.

“The bathroom really does need to be reconstructed and then because three of the residents are in wheelchairs, the kitchen is completely unusable for them,” Gunzburg said, adding it was a “loss of dignity” for the residents there. “It’s a kitchen made for people who can stand, not people who have to sit…Residents can’t go to the bathroom by themselves and can’t even make a snack.”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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