By Charles Kelleher Harris
DUDLEY- Town Planner Nancy Runkle is cautiously optimistic about the town becoming the recipient of an annual grant designated for a broad range of community development needs.
Each year the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) offers a federally funded competitive grant, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), that offers towns help for programs and projects that assist low income residents with improvements. Monies from the grant also assist in economic and community development.
Previously, Dudley did not qualify for the grant.
CDBG requirements state that in order for a community to be eligible it had to have a “statistical indication of need.” According to Runkle, these statistics are determined by census data, namely median household income. Dudley does not meet these requirements.
However, recently the CDBG created a second grant, breaking the category into CDF I and CDF II. Under the CDF II, requirements are determined to have a “lower statistical need.”
“We are sort of eligible,” said Runkle, “In speaking with our regional planning agency, Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), it was decided that to have even a remote chance of getting a grant we would have to concentrate on something that would save energy, have multiple purposes and include another neighboring [qualifying] community.”
As Runkle explained to the Board of Selectmen at this week’s Monday’s meeting, the CMRPC has agreed to partner with Oxford.
According to Runkle, the teaming of two towns improves the chances of grant award.
“We’re looking to offer interest-free or low interest loans for homeowners who meet the housing income criteria [established by the grant],” Runkle stated.
Runkle added that such loans could be used for housing energy improvements.
The exact total of the grant has not yet been determined. The maximum available award is $900,000. However, Runkle feels that the award for Dudley and Oxford will be less.
“The application isn’t written yet,” said Runkle, “But the CMRPC people say that around $100,000 split between Dudley and Oxford is in the right ballpark.”
The grant, which will be written by CMRPC, must be completed and submitted by mid-February.
Town Administrator Peter Jankowski explained to the Board of Selectmen that the CMRPC will only be compensated for writing the grant if the grant is awarded.
But Jankowski was also hesitant about the grant’s success.
“It’s still a long shot,” Jankowski said.
According to the CDBG webpage, at Mass.gov, last year the budget was around $2.7 million for the category which Dudley and Oxford will be applying for. The website also said that only six grants were awarded in the entire Commonwealth.
The grant recipients are expected to be announced in mid-spring.
- Friday, 18 January 2013