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$1.9M in block grants awarded to 2 towns


Berkshire Eagle 07/10/2011, Page A01

$1.9M in block grants awarded to 2 towns

By Ned Oliver

Berkshire Eagle Staff

Gov. Deval Patrick has awarded $1.9 million in community development block grants to fund housing and infrastructure projects in North Adams and Becket.

Officials said they were elated by news that they are receiving the aid.

“For us, it’s a windfall and a wonderful opportunity,” said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.

The state’s block grant program targets revitalization pro jects that help meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities.

North Adams received a $1 million grant, which is earmarked for improvements to the municipal skating rink, continued work on the conv ersion of the old National Guard Armory into a community center and the demolition of two blighted properties.

Mike Nuvallie, the city’s community development director, said the skating rink’s parking lot will be completely repaved.

“The parking lot is old, it’s beat, it’s tattered. It’s time to redo it,” he said.

Nuvallie said the grant will also allow the city to move into stage six of re-developing the armory, which should allow the city to hold a soft opening of the building’s gym later this summer.

Becket was awarded $900,000 that will fund the rehabilitation of seven low-income housing units, the reconstruction of crumbling side walks in North Becket Village and a study regarding the development of affordable housing units for the town’s senior citizens.

“Currently Becket doesn’t have any affordable housing,” said Patricia Mullins, a senior planner at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. “I think the major issue is that there is an elderly population that would prefer, as they age, to be able to stay in their own community, and there isn’t enough safe and affordable housing to support that.”

Becket Town Administrator Craig J. Kleman said the town has been eyeing the projects targeted by the grant for years. “[This funding] is exciting,” he said. “These are things that need to be completed.”
Lee and Adams also applied for grants this year, but weren’t included in this year’ s awards.
In all, Massachusetts distributed $28 million in block grants, which are given to the states by the federal government.