Grant funding will pay for downtown projects

Published 7:15 pm Monday, November 20, 2017

Washington’s City Council, during its Nov. 6 meeting, authorized the mayor and the city’s chief financial officer to sign contract documents related to a $50,000 grant for downtown revitalization projects.

After submitting an application in September, the city received the grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The projects include improvements to building facades, sidewalk and other pedestrian-related improvements and landscaping in the central business district.

The city plans to allocate $40,000 to its façade improvement program and $10,000 for landscaping.

The façade improvements include secondary entrances. Possible candidates for such improvements include the former Pamlico Provisions building, the building housing Scoops, the former Little Shoppes of Washington building and other buildings with rear facades facing the waterfront. Some of the landscaping work includes Stewart Parkway.

The grant agreement expires July 1, 2019, unless terminated earlier under terms specified in the agreement. The city receives the money within 30 days of the Department of Commerce receiving the signed agreement.

The city’s façade improvement program could be in for changes. Last year, City Manager Bobby Roberson said he wanted to study the program, possibly modifying it so the city gets “more bang for its buck.”

The program improves exteriors of buildings in downtown Washington. It provides funds to help replace awnings, replace windows, repaint bricks and make other aesthetic upgrades. At one time, the program paid for roof repairs and landscaping. Property owners/business owners applied for grants. Applications were reviewed, and grant recipients selected. Grant recipients were required to contribute money toward their projects. The city would pay up to $2,000 for a project.

Sometimes the program’s funds would be depleted and the city would provide more money.

About a year ago, Roberson said one option to fund the program could be establishing a municipal service district in the downtown area. The majority of municipalities in North Carolina that have Main Street programs (designed to bring economic development to central business districts) have MSDs, according to Roberson. Downtown property owners and business owners would have to buy into the advantages of having an MSD for it to be successful, he said.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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