Grant Money Sought For Flower St. Building

BERLIN – Planning for a new building to replace the deteriorated Flower St. Multi-purpose Building could soon be aided by state block grant funds, after the Berlin Mayor and Council voted to apply for the grant Tuesday night.

Unlike construction requests, community development block grant (CDBG) planning fund requests do not have to be in by the once a year deadline, which has already passed.

“They do not need to be submitted by a particular date,” said Berlin’s Grants Administrator Mary Bohlen.

Non-profit Shore Up has asked for roughly $42,000 to hire an architect to design the new building. The cost of the new structure will not be known until the design is finished.

The money, once awarded, must be spent within a certain time period or be terminated, as a CDBG grant for the Cannery Village workforce housing project recently was. That project just reapplied for construction funds.

“You don’t see any problem spending the money?” Council member Paula Lynch asked Council member Dean Burrell, director of Shore-Up’s Head Start Program.

“None whatsoever,” Burrell said. “Spending it won’t be a problem.”

The council opened a public hearing on the CDBG application, as required by state law, but there were no speakers.

CDBG grants are only made to town or county governments, which can then pass the funding through to another organizations. 

Shore Up, which has used the multi-purpose building for its local Head Start program, training, meal preparation and intake for food and energy assistance programs, initiated the grant request. Currently, the Head Start program is conducted at a different site, using just the kitchen at the multi-purpose building, which also hosts community events.

“We’re thinking of possibly after-school programs, we’re thinking community events,” said Burrell, though the focus for Shore Up is on Head Start for 3- to 5-year-old children.

“The Shore Up people took the lead on this. They’re the organization that got the ball rolling,” said interim Berlin Mayor Gee Williams. “The time’s right for it. It’s going to be a very worthwhile project. A better center will be used even more.”

The town recently used a CDBG grant to partially fund the installation of a sidewalk along Flower St.

“Every neighborhood is important and the whole council feels that way,” Williams said. “We look for wherever there’s opportunity to make impacts.”