Grants submitted by the Town of North Attleborough
From time to time, citizens ask our town councilors why the town isn’t writing more grants which will benefit North Attleborough. The fact is that grant applications are being written frequently. I’m going to use this column to explain how we in town government find available grants, and mention a few of the grants we’ve recently submitted (or are about to submit.)
First, finding grants: almost all of the non-education grants for which the town applies are sourced from the state of Massachusetts. Even if the point of origin for grant money is the federal government, the actual management of the grant application process is frequently handled by the states. The town relies on our contacts with various agencies of the state government to provide us with information about grants being made available. Rep. Betty Poirier’s office is a great source of grant information, and we rely on her for notification about grants being offered. In addition, many of us in the town work to develop professional relationships with senior state officials so that when their agencies release grants to enable action in their subject matter areas, we are notified that the programs exist. “Schmoozing” and three martini lunches are things of the past and no longer exist. However, maintaining professional contact with decision makers at the state and sometimes federal levels is an important way to gather intelligence about grant programs which can benefit the town.
The town has recently submitted grant applications for programs which will benefit out citizens. Examples are:
- The low income opportunity zone program: late in 2018, North Attleboro was selected to participate in this program; only 25 percent of applicants were chosen. In this program, businesses in our two low income opportunity zones can receive “substantial improvement “ investments, and opportunity funds can make “substantial investment” in the zones. The details of this program can be found on the town website. Fourteen town businesses are likely candidates for investments under this program.
- Brownfields Assessment Program: this grant opportunity, for which the town applied in late August, awards up to $100,000 to communities for assessment of clean-up needs on specific contaminated properties. Awards will be announced in early November. If the town receives one, we will begin analyzing the contamination of one of the abandoned mill sites in town which is still privately owned.
- The clean-up of the Courtois sand and gravel pit: The federal EPA awarded the town this $200K grant last year. With the assistance of a professional engineering company, we have chosen a contractor to perform the clean-up, and are currently negotiating contract stipulating the details. The site clean-up should be complete in early November, and the site will be auctioned off to a tax-paying entity shortly thereafter.
- EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant: this may seem redundant with state grants, but the federal EPA is also in the process of releasing an assessment grant which will be larger than the state version. The town intends to apply, and if the grant is awarded to us we will use the proceeds for analysis of all the contaminated sites which haven’t been covered under another program.
- Mass Works grant: the town’s DPW applied for a very large grant in August which will be used to renovate the downtown infrastructure next spring: new street pavement, new sidewalks, LED street lights, and some stream pollution mitigation. All of these are necessary first steps to revitalizing buildings and alley ways in our downtown area.
We continue to look for grants, and when appropriate opportunities come along we apply for them. It’s very much in town management’s interest to improve our infrastructure, re-purpose abandoned sites, and make the town more presentable. If we can do so without having to pay for these programs by increasing property taxes, so much the better.
Lyle Pirnie is the Economic Development Coordinator for the Town of North Attleborough.