The Woodstock Economic Development Authority approved on Wednesday a grant totaling nearly $19,000 through the town’s Facade Rehabilitation Grant program to be applied toward the exterior renovation of the future location of Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet Co. ice cream shop.

Tom Murden, the owner of the property at 150 S. Main St. and founder/president of William T. Murden Construction LLC, requested a grant for 75% of the total estimated eligible cost of $39,942.

While discussing Murden’s application during Wednesday’s EDA meeting, Woodstock Enhancement Coordinator Katie Mercer told EDA members that the Facade RENEW Committee recommended approval of an application for a grant covering 50% of the total estimated eligible cost of the project.

Mercer further explained that town staff, upon analyzing the quote supplied by Murden for the project, reduced the projected cost pertaining to pavers to be used for walkways outside the building, which in turn lowered the total estimated eligible cost to $37,869. A grant for half that amount equals $18,934, a total that EDA members approved through a unanimous vote on Wednesday. That grant will be applied to the 2021 fiscal year.

The EDA also approved a grant for $725, to be applied this fiscal year, to cover half of the projected professional design services for the renovations.

Though the Facade Rehabilitation Grant guidelines state that grants are available for qualified projects with up to a 50% match and a maximum amount of $10,000 per grant per fiscal year, the EDA can modify that amount on a case-by-case basis.

EDA member Charles Hepner stated before Wednesday’s vote that he felt the $10,000 maximum was fair for the proposed project at 150 S. Main St., though he later voted in favor of the $18,934.50 grant.

EDA member Zach Hottel also noted that he had his qualms about offering more than $10,000 for the grant and wondered how many previous applicants had limited themselves to a $10,000 request because that’s the maximum amount stated in the guidelines.

Fellow EDA member Phyllis Fleming also asked if they’d previously denied a request for a grant equal to a 50% match of estimated eligible costs because it exceeded that $10,000 maximum. Mercer replied that for each of the previous applications they’ve had, a 50% match had fallen under that $10,000 threshold.

Before the vote, EDA member Jessica MacDonald said she felt the extensiveness of the project warranted offering the larger grant, and added that doing so might offer an incentive for more people to apply for the town’s Facade Rehabilitation Grant program.

EDA Chairman David Hutton added that when considering the property’s location and Murden’s track record, he supported offering Murden the near-$19,000 grant.

Murden, who attended the virtual meeting, asked EDA members before the vote to consider the quality of his previous work and noted that as the property owner of 150 S. Main St., he could ensure that “every penny of (the grant) is going back into the building, which helps the streetscape of Woodstock.”

The Facade RENEW Committee rates each qualified application for the Facade Rehabilitation Grant on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) based on a set of criteria. Murden’s proposed renovations at 150 S. Main St. scored a 4.2.

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