Splash pad among projects seeking funding from Sachem Fund

Editor's note: This version corrects the funding requests from Habitat for Humanity of Eastern Connecticut and the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee.

Norwich - The city received nine grant applications for projects totaling $675,000 in what could be the final round of grants under the Sachem Fund program created by the city and the Mohegan Tribe in 2007 to fund economic development, tourism and community improvement projects.

Among the proposals submitted by Wednesday's deadline was a plan by various city departments to build a splash pad adjacent to the city skateboard park, a request for funding to develop the Uncas Leap historical site into a tourist attraction, a $2 million revolving business loan fund and a "Grandfamily Fun" program to support grandparents raising grandchildren.

The fund has $273,453 remaining, with both the city and the tribe having ceased their annual contributions as a result of the slowed economy.

According to a proposed schedule set in July when the funding round was announced, the Sachem Fund Committee will review the applications individually, and each member will rank each proposal. The group then will meet and select a set of finalists to invite for presentations. The committee hopes to make a recommendation to the City Council by the end of October.

Proposal requests range from $10,000 by Norwich Human Services to create a "Grandfamily Fun" series of education, recreational and nutritional programs at the Rose City Senior Center to the $235,000 requested by the city Recreation Department for a splash pad.

The splash pad proposal called for collaboration among the Recreation Department, the city Planning and Development office, Norwich Public Utilities and Norwich Regional Technical High School. The splash pad would be built across from Norwich Tech, adjacent to the city skateboard park.

The Community Economic Development Fund Foundation requested $90,000 to launch a three-pronged effort to attract new small businesses to Norwich. The foundation pledged to commit $2 million to a revolving loan fund and also would hold focus group sessions with residents and existing businesses to see what goods and services are needed in the city. The foundation then would conduct "large-scale networking" to attract businesses to the city that would meet those needs.

The Norwich Community Development Corp. submitted a request for $120,000 to bring the proposed Uncas Leap Heritage Area from a concept design to construction-ready project. NCDC, officials from the Mohegan Tribe and the Norwich Historical Society have been seeking funding to create a major tourist attraction at the historic Uncas Leap-Yantic Falls area, the site of a pre-European settlement Indian battle and other activities, early American industrial development and scenic attractions.

The proposal seeks to "develop a site where a visitor can explore the property and learn the details of these various components without the need for a guided tour," the application reads.

Other project applications are:

• Norwich Fire Department, $85,000 for a storage garage at city fire station

• Habitat for Humanity of Eastern Connecticut, $15,000 to rehabilitate a single-family house at 6 Clairmont Court

• Norwich Historical Society, $85,000 to create "Discover Norwich: Our Role in Building the Nation" series of walking tours and establish a visitor center at the 1783 Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse on Norwichtown Green

• Sankofa Education and Leadership Inc., $20,000 to develop a debate program for local high school students

• Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee, $15,000 to install six plaques, landscaping and improvements to David Ruggles Memorial Freedom Courtyard in front of City Hall

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