February 26, 2015
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Conimicut asked how to spend $100K
Warwick Beacon
IDEAS FOR CONIMICUT: Conimicut Village residents and businesses will be asked for their suggestions for the expenditure of $100,000 in federal funding at a community meeting tonight. Signage and lights are projects that have been funded by prior grants.

The sky’s the limit.

Ginny Barham won’t tell you that, although that’s how she hopes people will approach tonight’s discussion on plans for Conimicut. This is the year the village will receive a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Barham, president of the Conimicut Village Association, wants to hear the ideas of village residents and businesses about how the money should be spent but she doesn’t want people to limit their thinking to $100,000.

“What we’re trying to do is not limit ourselves to what’s eligible under the grant,” she said.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the American Shields Post. Those attending will be broken into groups that, after an overview of the process, will brainstorm ideas to be shared with everyone later. Linda Davey, a member of the village association, will facilitate the meeting.

The best proposals will be worked into a master plan by the Cecil Group, which the city has retained for the purpose.

According to Community Development program coordinator Kevin Sullivan, Cecil will review proposals and look at what’s doable and makes sense. He expects a plan will be finalized by February or March.

“The plan is dependent upon community input. It’s their plan. That’s why we want to hear from them,” he said.

CDBG funding has had a dramatic impact on the village over the years.

Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon remembers the nascent years of the village association and its founding president, the Rev. William Lover, pastor of Woodbury Union Church. Federal funds enabled the installation of period streetlights. Later improvements included the planting of ornamental trees that transform West Shore Road into a white way of white spring blossoms and grants for businesses for façade improvements. Most recently, CDBG funds were used to build the bay overlook at the end of Beach Avenue.

“We’ve come a long way since we’ve first done this in the ’80s,” Solomon said. “It’s been a constant evolution of improvement.”

As a result of the 2010 Census, some areas of the village, once eligible for CDBG projects, are no longer. Eligibility is linked to income, with lower income census tracts eligible for funds.

Barham said that shouldn’t exclude suggestions for improvements, as there are other potential sources of funds.

And what are some of the ideas Barham has heard?

She’s not saying. She doesn’t want to crimp anyone’s creative thinking.

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