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Grants give several NH communities a boost

Special to the Union Leader

April 09. 2013 8:54PM

BERLIN - Coos County and two of its communities will share more than $2.5 million in grants released by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority

Six CDFA grants will go to Coos County, Berlin and Northumberland up north, as well as the towns of Alstead, Franklin and Belmont elsewhere in New Hampshire. The money will be used to help with affordable housing and public infrastructure.

The grants are made to municipalities and are usually subgranted to nonprofits. This round of funding will benefit 689 people, 81 percent of whom are elderly or of low- to-moderate income, according to Kevin Flynn, CDFA communications director.

"These projects were initiated at the grassroots and show that those communities really see the benefit of doing this community development work," Flynn said.

A $500,000 housing grant will go to Berlin on behalf of Affordable Housing, Education and Development Inc. (AHEAD) to convert the vacant Notre Dame School building into 33 units of Americans with Disabilities Act-conforming accessible senior housing.

The city has already conducted an environmental clean-up of the site, but seeks to complete the project at the 105-year-old landmark which, for now, remains an eyesore and a public hazard.

A $470,000 housing grant is earmarked for Coos County on behalf of Liberty Garden Associates for the rehabilitation of the Brookside Park apartments in Berlin. Built more than 30 years ago, the complex now requires improvements that include upgrades to all kitchens and bathrooms, a rebuilding of the balconies and patios, electrical upgrades, and parking lot improvements.

A $500,000 housing grant will go to Northumberland on behalf of AHEAD for the rehabilitation of the Groveton Housing Complex for elderly and disabled residents.

Plans call for removal of an underground fuel oil storage tank, life safety code upgrades, and major energy efficiency improvements. The initiative also requires relocating residents one unit at a time so interior and exterior work can be completed.

A housing grant of $258,000 is ticketed for Alstead in Cheshire County for infrastructure improvements to the Well Hill Cooperative. The park's water system is in urgent need of a new pump house, water treatment filters, storage tanks and distribution piping.

Water quality there has been deemed poor due to high levels of iron and manganese. The project will also include installing a community septic system, drainage improvements, and electrical upgrades.

A $413,938 public facilities grant will go to Franklin on behalf of Belknap-Merrimack CAP for the relocation of the Twin Rivers Intergenerational Program to the Bessie Rowell School.

Other service agencies, such as Head Start and Tiny Twisters Daycare, have recently moved into this re-purposed building. Services offered by TRIP include Meals-on-Wheels, community dining, rural transportation service, and the Senior Companion Program. The award will help reduce TRIP's operating costs, making more resources available to their clients.

Belknap County's Belmont will receive a $304,586 public facilities grant for phase two of the Belmont Village waterline replacement. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services officials say the town's waterlines are deficient and pose a risk to public health.

The existing pipes are subject to chronic breaks and increased bacteria growth, and the undersized piping limits water flow. This phase of the project will replace 4,575 linear feet of pipe, and include water system, storm drainage, and roadway improvements. Without the CDBG grant, water rates in that area would rise an estimated 22 percent.

The CDBG funds provide housing and create jobs primarily for low- and moderate-income people. Funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and administered by CDFA. Each project is evaluated on several criteria, including impact on low- and moderate-income residents, and the availability of matching funding.

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