Sachem committee approves $182,810 in funding for local projects

Norwich - The Sachem Fund Committee approved $182,810 in grant applications Wednesday for several projects ranging from popular annual events to historical preservation efforts and a training program to help agencies apply for future grants elsewhere.

The Sachem Fund was created by the city of Norwich and the Mohegan Tribe, but contributions from both governments have dwindled as they face financial difficulties. If approved by the Norwich City Council, the recommended grants would deplete the fund to $39,000.

The City Council will receive the recommended grants list July 5.

The newly approved Norwich budget for 2011-12 contributes $50,000 to the fund for the second consecutive year, far short of the $200,000 per year anticipated when the fund was created. The tribe is expected to contribute $50,000 as well.

After approving 10 grant applications, some for smaller amounts than requested, the committee agreed to meet several times in coming months to revamp criteria for the second time and possibly reserve a future grant round for fewer, larger projects.

The largest of the 10 grants recommended Wednesday was $50,000 to the Chelsea Gardens Foundation's proposed botanical garden in Mohegan Park. The multimillion-dollar, several-phase project is in the design stages. The foundation had requested $97,000, but Sachem Fund Committee Chairman William Nash said that would take too much of the available funding. Nash recommended $62,000, but Mohegan tribal member Bill Quidgeon suggested $50,000.

The Spirit of Broadway Theater had asked for $45,000 to fund programs to celebrate the theater's 15th anniversary and to catalog the theater's inventory. The committee cut the request to $30,000 and stipulated that it be used for programs.

One project directly involved both the city and the Mohegan tribe. City Manager Alan Bergren and the Norwich Historical Society requested $17,500 to match a state grant to study the condition and history of the Indian Leap area at Yantic Falls and make preservation and public use recommendations. The committee fully funded that request.

Other recommended grants:

Otis Library: $8,110 for an internship program; NAACP: $15,000 for events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation; Norwich Historical Society: $6,000 to catalog historic assets in the city; Italian Heritage and Cultural Committee: $5,000 to help fund A Taste of Italy; Habitat for Humanity: $15,000 to build two houses in Norwich; Community Development Office: $7,700 to run a grant-writing training session for city agencies and nonprofits; Norwich Arts Center: $28,500 to match a state grant to continue its programs as a designated Local Arts Agency.

c.bessette@theday.com

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