Norwich City Council approves $673,089 in grant allocations

Norwich - The City Council on Monday approved $673,089 in grant allocations of the city's federal community development block grant, agreeing with most recommendations by an advisory committee but adding $77,000 to Norwich Housing Authority to continue roof replacement work.

The city will receive $814,280 in the coming CDBG grant year starting in September, and the Community Development Advisory Committee reviewed 15 separate applications. The committee recommended full funding to most programs or construction requests, totaling $596,089.

The committee recommended keeping $218,191 in reserve for a possible future grant round this fall.

Chairman Les King told the council Monday that the committee did not recommend funding the $77,000 requested by the Housing Authority because the roofs on the 11 buildings at the John F. Kennedy complex are only 19 years old. King said roofs should be expected to last 25 to 30 years.

But Housing Authority Executive Director Charles Whitty and several Housing Authority officials told aldermen that the roofs are leaking and need to be replaced. The council voted to take some of the remaining grant money to fund the roof replacement project, leaving $141,191 for future allocations.

The new allocation brings the total of CDBG funds allocated to the Norwich Housing Authority to more than $1 million over the past 10 years for various construction projects.

The only other request not funded was a request by the Norwich Community Development Corp. for $170,000 to tear down a circa 1900 brick former mill building that is in danger of collapse near the historic Uncas Leap Yantic Falls area.

King said the committee supported the project but was unclear on the status of the much larger project to develop a park at the site and who is in charge of the project. A committee with representatives from NCDC, the Norwich Historical Society, the Mohegan tribe and members of the community is working to launch the project.

King suggested the group answer those concerns and apply again for funding, perhaps this fall if the city chooses to seek additional grant applications.

Among the programs receiving repeat grants was the Norwich Community Care Team's request for $30,000 for so-called rapid re-housing and shelter diversion programs to provide housing for homeless Norwich residents. The program started last year, when the organization proposed eliminating its winter homeless shelter and concentrating on finding more permanent housing for dozens of homeless people.

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