Select Board approves application for $800,000 block grant

Erica Johnson, Principal Planner and Manager for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

SOUTHWICK – The Select Board voted unanimously Aug. 24 to authorize the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) to submit an application for $800,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the food pantry and road construction.

Erica Johnson of the PVPC said that this year’s CDBG funds, if approved, would go toward continued construction on Bungalow Street and toward Our Community Food Pantry for maintenance and renovations. Johnson said that CDBG funds from previous years had paid for the infrastructure design on Bungalow Street, and that this would move this project along into actual construction. 

“Bungalow had been identified years ago as an area of need in the community,” said Johnson.

She said that she had hoped Bungalow Street would be completed with one grant cycle, but then she saw the estimated cost and decided it should be a phased project. 

She said that the food pantry was also the only organization to respond to a social service Request for Proposal as part of the grant application. Select Board member Joseph Deedy estimated that the food pantry will need a lot of work done, and could require upwards of $200,000 from the grant funds. 

She noted that there will be no housing funding in this year’s grant, but that money from the FY19 and FY20 CDBG grants is still available. She invited any Southwick residents who are interested in doing housing rehabilitation to apply, though she said the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly slowed down the housing rehabilitation market. 

Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said that Southwick is a non-entitlement community, meaning that it does not receive CDBG funds automatically every year, and must competitively apply for it. Larger communities like Springfield get block grant funding every year without the need to apply. 

Johnson said that normally she would have come before the Select Board during the winter, as CDBG applications are typically due in March. This year, however, they were due in September.

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