FROM THE TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S DESK
By Gregory T. Federspiel
One way of stretching our local tax dollars further is to pursue various grants to help pay for needed town improvements. Over the past five years we have been successful in obtaining over $4 million in grant funds to assist in a number of projects. For a small community, this is an especially impressive accomplishment. This success is due, in part, to the strong working relationship we have with our State Representative and State Senator, Brad Hill and Bruce Tarr. It is also a reflection of the good work many of our department leaders and citizens are doing identifying and pursuing these opportunities.
The grants we have received range from $10,000 from our liability insurance carrier to conduct a review of our personnel policies and procedures to a trio of $500,000 grants from three different state programs for the safe routes to school project, the dredging project and the Central Street Culvert project.
Projects like the sidewalk improvements done under the safe routes to school project and the curbside collection of compost, benefited from the vision and energy of citizen volunteers. Both of these projects were originally conceived by a group of residents who saw a problem that needed to be addressed and, in working with staff from Town Hall, successfully pursued funding to implement solutions. These two examples highlight the important role volunteers can play in making the community a better place and, in the case of curbside composting, saving money in our annual operating costs.
The Council on Aging vans, including the new small van for more efficient trips for one to four people are obtained through a state grant program. COA Director Nancy Hammond has done well to secure this funding repeatedly. The vans are in constant use as the demand for rides is very high.
A series of grants continues to support our efforts to analyze and develop strategies for mitigating flooding along Sawmill Brook. The Brook is the major water course in town as it travels from Cedar Swamp and makes its way through the tight residential areas of the village before emptying into the Inner Harbor. The next phase of this work is taking a hard look at the old tide gate, the dilapidated seawalls around a portion of Central Pond, and better ways to manage the flow of water both downstream during heavy rain events as well as storm surges from the ocean (competing forces that make solutions challenging!).
Two Green Community Grants totaling nearly $300,000 has enabled us to replace old furnaces with more efficient ones, upgrade the lighting in Town Hall, replace old, power hungry pumps at our treatment plants, install electric vehicle charging stations behind Town Hall, and, coming up this fall, retrofitting our streetlights to much more efficient LEDs. The resulting energy savings is in the tens of thousands of dollars each year.
On the waterfront, in addition to grant support for our dredging work, Harbormaster Bion Pike has secured funding for the repair work to the seawall at Morse Pier and for new floats for transient boaters at Reed Park. Another grant paid for new helix style moorings that prevent damage to the eel grass, an important element to the health of the waters just outside our harbor.
These are just a few of the highlights from a list of over 30 grants the Town has received in the past 5 years. We will continue to pursue funding opportunities where appropriate and welcome your ideas. Each dollar we obtain is a dollar that does not have to come from your local property taxes.