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Ledyard - After failing to receive state money for the same project in previous years, the $500,000 grant awarded for Ledyard Center beautification this week "feels like a huge win for us," Town Councilor John Marshall said during the council's meeting on Wednesday.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that Ledyard would receive a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant in the maximum amount available to spruce up Ledyard Center, the area at the intersection of routes 117 and 214.
Mayor John Rodolico said Wednesday that the grant will be used to improve sidewalks, landscaping, stone walls and other features in the area, continuing improvements that have already been made to the town green.
"This grant comes at a very appropriate time," said Rodolico, noting that it coincides with the town's plans to construct a new police station in the area.
The mayor added that he is "very appreciative" to the state government for approving Ledyard's application, which state Sen. Tim Bowles, D-Preston, supported in a letter to the Office of Policy and Management.
When the proposed project - which includes school, town hall and roadway improvements, a theater, new sidewalks, landscaping, lighting and the upgrading of power services - is completed, "the town of Ledyard will have an attractive and safe location for community events, in addition to retail development, which will enhance the quality of living for the area," Bowles wrote in the letter.
The town council on Wednesday also authorized the Ledyard Town Center Committee to pursue its efforts to encourage economic development in the area, by enabling the committee, created in 2006, to continue existing.
The nine-person committee is responsible for recommending future development in the area, review sketches and design scenarios and for identifying funding sources for improvements.
That the committee is up for renewal the same time as the STEAP grant was announced is a coincidence, councilors said. Even before the grant was announced, they said, the commission was eager to continue its work rather than allow the plan for Ledyard center improvements to be forgotten.
Some councilors expressed concern about comments on the town's Facebook page asking why money was being spent to improve Ledyard center rather than Gales Ferry.
Rodolico emphasized during the meeting that the town has also applied for a grant from the Main Street Investment Fund Program that would be used to do similar streetscape work in the Route 12 area of Gales Ferry. He said he expects to hear back about that grant in the fall.