Belhaven applies for a grant

Published 8:36 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Staff Writer

BELHAVEN — The Town Council, during its meeting last week, gave its OK for the town to apply for an economic-recovery grant.
During a public hearing concerning seeking the grant to help pay for improvements to the West Pantego Street-Harbinger Street area, Bill Atkins, a representative of The Wooten Co., discussed the grant process. According to Atkins, North Carolina has received approximately $21 million from the federal economic-recovery fund to be distributed in the form of economic-recovery grants.
“Economic grants will be available to those communities that submitted recovery grants in June 2009 but were not funded,” Atkins said, adding that Belhaven is eligible for such grants. “These are $500,000 grants with no local participation, and must match the project category or previously submitted grant, which in this case targets substandard housing in West Pantego/Harbinger Street area.”
Atkins said area that most need help will have priority when it comes to being awarded grants.
“Basically, what we have is a block grant that will improve housing on the western part of town,” Mayor Adam O’Neal said.
Andrew Fisher, a Water Street resident, wanted to know what kinds of repairs are to be made on houses that are designated for demolition and in line to be replaced.
“Are we talking about new houses? Are we talking about new roofs?” he asked.
Atkins replied that four substandard houses will be demolished and replaced with new structures.
O’Neal said the town is not required to spend any of its money on the project.
To qualify for the project, a house must be occupied and need specific repairs.
“I’d like to make a statement,” O’Neal said. “We had a situation in town for years and years when grants would come through here and everyone had concerns about how people got picked, about how houses got raised, about how homes got raised when they weren’t even occupied. … So, there’s been a lot of concern about that in the past.
“And Mr. Atkins will tell you he had some concern about how these houses were picked, and if there was some methodology to it. And in actuality, these four homes were the only homes that qualified in this block grant. We appreciate the concern citizens have shown, and I want to assure the citizens that the Belhaven Town Council will not put up with favoritism. Those days are over.”
O’Neal thanked Atkins for proceeding with the project in a proper and ethical way.
Councilman Steve W. Carawan made the motion to approve the submission of the grant application. The motion was seconded by Councilman Robert L. Stanley. The grant application was submitted Thursday for consideration.