N. Branford planning new use for grant

Published: Wednesday, February 18, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — Town officials are considering ending the program that has provided funding for businesses to redo their fa硤es, and using the money elsewhere.

Town Manager Richard Branigan said at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that interest in the fa硤e program, which began in 2006 with a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant, has faded in recent months.

“The interest in it seems to be sliding off as we go,” he said.

Branigan said he recently met with officials from the state Department of Economic and Community Development to discuss continued funding for the fa硤e rehabilitations.

“The recommendation that I received from the DECD was that the fa硤e program should wind down in the next six months or so,” he said.

At that point, Branigan said, the program is projected to have about $230,000 remaining in it.

The town could then reapply for a new STEAP grant to use that funding toward a longtime goal: moving Wall Field and renovating the town property next to the Police Department on Forest Road.

Branigan said it is best to apply for the grants with a project that is close to “shovel ready.”

“The more complex the project, the longer it takes, the more difficult it may be to get approval or the more strings that may be attached,” he said.

The state issues STEAP funds for capital projects, including those aimed at economic development, which was one of the goals of the fa硤e program.

Town estimates have put the cost of moving Wall Field at more than $1 million, and the town is expecting about $400,000 in funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Branigan said the STEAP and DEP money would cover the first phase of the project. He added that the town Public Works Department has already done preliminary site work at the location for the new field.

With the state looking to expand Route 80 beginning in 2010, the town has been planning to sell the old Town Hall site at 1599 Foxon Road and move the baseball field that is next door.

Town Council member Vincent Caprio said he would like to see the relocation project get off the ground before the Department of Transportation begins work so that the field is not eliminated.

“We already don’t have enough fields for our kids as it is,” Caprio said.

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