July 19 – SOMERSET – With millions of dollars needed to fund water quality improvements and streetscape projects, the Somerset County Redevelopment Authority is competing for a series of grants available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“This is our best opportunity to get millions of dollars for projects,” said Steven Spochart, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority.
A total of $54 million is expected to be distributed competitively throughout Pennsylvania in the third and final round of Community Development Block Grants supplemented by the CARES Act of 2020.
Nominations are due Aug. 1, Spochart said Tuesday at the Somerset County Commissioners meeting at the Center Avenue County Office Building.
Spochart submitted applications for three projects:
—$1.4 million for a water main improvement project in the village of Draketown;
—$2 million for the Garret Borough Walker Street Improvement Plan;and
—$1.8 million for the Hooversville Borough Watermain and Reservoir Replacement Project.
Commissioners unanimously approved all three applications.
Spochard said water quality and streetscape improvements also needed to be made in the borough of Rockwood.
However, the Rockwood household income surveys required for the application process were not returned in time to meet the deadline, Spochart said. Applications are only accepted from low to moderate income areas.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes. “This (inquiry) is the only thing standing in the way of the candidacy.”
Commissioner Colleen Dawson said the county wanted to take advantage of federal grants and that revenue surveys sent by the redevelopment authority were essential.
‘I cannot stress enough the importance of referring inquiries to the redevelopment authority,’ she said. “Residents can rest assured that their information is safe, and you can see there are millions of dollars available, so if we don’t solicit them, someone else will.
“These surveys are essential. Without them, the applications cannot move forward.”
Efforts are underway to fund each of the three projects that were approved for CARES Act grant applications on Tuesday.
The redevelopment authority has already solicited bids for the Draketown watermain improvement project, but the county has insufficient funding due to rising material and fuel costs, said Spochart.
If the application for the County Grant for Garret Borough Street Improvements is successful, it would build on the $860,000 reserve fund previously awarded for Transportation Alternatives to improve Jackson and Walker Streets.
The Redevelopment Authority is seeking to extend the streetscape along the entire stretch of Walker Street to connect the intersection of Jackson and Walker streets to the National 9/11 Memorial Trailhead, Spochart said.
The Hooversville Borough Waterline and Reservoir Replacement Project includes a 250,000 gallon water reservoir and approximately 4,000 linear feet of waterline replacement along Main and Lohr Streets and the Maple Ave. This work would expand on improvements already underway with the borough’s $4.6 million in PennVest funds.