The funds are for facade improvements
By Alex Bridges
New Market again plans to help property owners spruce up their buildings and reinvest in the downtown.
Town Council's Tourism, Economic Development and Historic Preservation Committee will hold a special meeting at 6:45 p.m. Monday to consider awarding grants for façade improvements to properties in an ongoing effort to revitalize the downtown.
Town Manager Evan Vass said Friday the committee would discuss two applications New Market received for the grant cycle.
Town Council allocated another $5,000 in the current fiscal year budget to provide funding aimed at spurring improvements to properties in the historic overlay district. The historic overlay district covers mostly the downtown area along Congress Street and side roads.
Applicants file requests for a share of the grant money in the competitive process. Projects are awarded based on the benefit to downtown viewshed, Vass explained.
"It really is up to them how they want to divide the money -- whether they want to give it to one project over the other or they want to divide the money in half," Vass said.
Information on the two projects will be discussed at the special meeting.
"Both projects certainly meet the criteria of the grant as presented and certainly both will be given due attention to decide how the county wants to divvy up the funds," Vass said.
Grant money comes from the town's general fund -- local tax revenue used to improve properties in the historic overlay district, Vass said.
"It certainly incentivizes improvements and reinvestment in the town," Vass said. "That's what it's designed to do. It's meant to enhance what New Market has done with the public portion of the ... downtown streetscape project."
As Vass explained, qualifying projects must address improvements to the exterior of a property and to an area visible from a public right-of-way or street. Grants cannot be used to improve the interior of a property.
While most properties in the historic district face Congress Stree, some are along side streets, Vass said.
This marks the fourth year, the third consecutive, the town has awarded façade improvement grants. Each year the town has allocated and awarded $5,000. This year's award brings the total awarded to $20,000. The number of applicants and projects awarded under the program so far was not available Friday.
Recipients must match the award amounts at a minimum dollar for dollar, Vass explained.
"The check-and-balance that the town has would be that we see the project done, we see that invoices have been paid to vendors, suppliers, contractors," Vass said.
The town checks that the applicant completed the work on the project included in the grant agreement. Then the town reimburses the applicant for the money spent on the project, Vass explained.
The grant timeline indicates to applicants that the town would likely approve projects by late September, hence the timing of the committee's special meeting, Vass said.
The committee will make the final decision on the grant awards rather than make a recommendation to the full Town Council. Vass said the matter probably would need to go to the full council for consideration if the town received a large number of applications or had a bigger pool of money to award.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org