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Town seeks facade improvement funds

(9/11) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to apply for a $100,000 matching grant at their September 4 meeting to be used to improve building facades.

The grant that is being applied for represents money available for Maryland Community Legacy projects.

According to the state Department of Housing and Community Development, Community Legacy "provides local governments and community development organizations with funding for essential projects aimed at strengthening communities through activities such as business retention and attraction, encouraging homeownership and commercial revitalization."

Because the $100,000 would be a matching grant, the town would be required to provide an additional $100,000, meaning a total $200,000 would, or could, be spent for fašade and exterior improvements.

Emmitsburg Town Planner Sue Cipperly said the application being submitted is for a 50-50 matching state funds for exterior restoration of structures in the core historic district and some adjacent areas.

If approved, the timeframe should allow for approved projects in town to begin work by spring 2013.

The town has placed a ceiling of $50,000 per project (of which half, $25,000, would be reimbursed by the state), making it possible that at least four properties could be selected for financing, although "not every project would need that (maximum allocated) amount of money," Cipperly stated.

According to the terms of the grant, a property owner of an approved project would have to pay for the improvements upfront, then submit the costs to the town. The town would then forward the costs to the state, who would then reimburse half of the expense.

A Sustainable Communities Work Group, established by the town, would review applications for completeness, and then forward the applications to the state Historic Trust for final approval.

The work group will also be developing an application process, and ranking system to help ascertain which applications received would have the greater priority.

Cipperly stated at least half the grant and matching money, if approved, must be spent in the first year, and the balance in the second year. If all of the money would be spent in the first year, the town could apply for additional money in the following year.

Board President Christopher V. Staiger suggested that, if the grant is awarded, property owners who would be eligible be notified and briefed (through a meeting) on the opportunities presents.

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